Steamboat Symphony Orchestra program starts 10th year with new ensembles |

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra program starts 10th year with new ensembles

Nicole Inglis

— When the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra piloted its new teen and adult string ensemble in the spring, an overwhelming number of tall six-stringed instruments appeared out of the woodwork.

Of the 25 students, nine were cellists — most of whom Bruce Dean never even knew played the instrument.

Led by Dean, the group will branch off and form its own new cello choir as a part of the orchestra's revamped community outreach effort.

"The cello choir is a traditional thing," Dean said. "It's really cool because the cello sounds very low but it also has this middle and high range. It's pretty close to the human voice range, and I think that's why a lot of people really love it."

The cello choir, which begins Monday and costs $105 for the four-week session, is just one of three parts of the orchestra's community outreach program that began 10 years ago with the Youth Orchestra.

Directed by Bonnie Murray, the Youth Orchestra provides musical development and mentoring for young musicians up to high school age.

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However, orchestra board member and outreach coordinator Janice Poirot said the orchestra's mission to provide community enrichment shouldn't end with high school.

"It was recognized that the orchestra wants to meet the educational needs of the community's youth, but also the needs of the adult, nonprofessional musician," Poirot said.

That led to the creation of the String Ensemble, and subsequently the Cello Choir, where teens and adults can practice and rehearse with professional musicians.

String Ensemble director Teresa Steffen said the two new programs could bring new life to the classical community in Steamboat.

"I talk to so many adults who 'used to play' but haven't had an outlet here in Steamboat," she said. "Well, here it is."

Many younger students play mostly on their own, while many adults are simply looking for a reason to play again. The combination of teens, adults and professional musicians offers a unique opportunity, Steffen said.

"We can all learn from each other, regardless of age," she said. "Some of the students have more technical training than the adults, but the adults have more group experience. Being in an ensemble together allows everyone to learn from those around them."

The String Ensemble and Youth Orchestra will begin in October, and all three ensembles will work toward a combined concert Dec. 1.

"It's good to be able to express yourself," Dean said about the two new ensembles. "There's obviously adults and kids who want to play music, and it's always fun to have people to play with and goals and concerts ahead to look forward to and work toward."

For Poirot, who has watched the lives of her two teenage children become enriched by involvement in music, there is no question that the youth program is a vital part of the orchestra's mission.

"I would say allowing — especially youth, but all in our community whatever their background — the opportunity to lean and to love to play a classical instrument can be life transforming," Poirot said. "The sooner that youth are nurtured in music, they will transform our society."

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra community ensembles

Youth Orchestra

■ For ages 8 to high school

■ Rehearsals begin Oct. 4

■ Tuition is $165 for nine weeks

String Ensemble

■ For teens and adults

■ Rehearsals begin Oct. 18

■ Tuition is $165 for seven weeks

Cello Choir

■ For teens and adults

■ Rehearsals begin Monday

■ Tuition is $105 for four weeks