The sounds of spring | SteamboatToday.com

The sounds of spring

Orchestra celebrates season with performance

Allison Plean

Ernest Richardson, conductor for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra’s spring concert, uses his advanced training in tae kwon do to help musicians prepare for the physical demands of music making.

The orchestra’s performance this weekend will showcase those skills.

¤ “The Sounds of Spring” concerts by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra

¤ 7.pm. today and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday

¤ Tonight’s show is at Moffat County High School; Saturday and Sunday’s shows are at Steamboat Christian Center on East U.S. Highway 40

¤ $10 for adults; $5 for senior citizens and students; and $1 for children 12 and younger

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¤ 879-9008, ext.107

“We use our entire physical structure to play our instruments but are not trained that way,” said Richardson, a 13-year resident conductor for the Omaha Symphony who has flown to Steamboat to rehearse during the weekends. “Even though I have played all my life, this awareness only came to me when I started studying tae kwon do.”

Richardson relates the importance of needing to warm up for a performance to stretching before going into a sparring match.

“Most musicians grow up to be anti-athletes — they think of themselves as either sitting down or standing up to play an instrument,” Richardson said.

“Our musicians are learning to use their bodies in the same way that athletes do.”

John Sant’Am–brogio has been exercising his musical talents for 46 years. He spent nine years in the Boston Symphony and 37 years as the principal cellist in the St. Louis Symphony.

He retired eight months ago but said that he is working harder than ever before.

Sant’Ambrogio is the principal cellist of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra. He also founded Strings in the Mountains 20 years ago.

He said the beauty of working with the Steamboat orchestra is the enthusiasm of its members.

“They’re not getting paid and are doing it for the love of it,” Sant’Ambrogio said. “It’s a gift for the city.”

Many of them are trained professional musicians.

Sant’Ambrogio also is amazed by the large age gap among the orchestra’s 50 members. Among 80-year-old musicians “there’s going to be a 13-year-old boy in the viola section, and leading the violin section as a principal second is a 14-year-old girl,” he said.

Although he has played music three times as long as some of the youngest orchestra members have been alive, Sant’Ambrogio said experience is not necessary for the success of the orchestra. The orchestra received standing ovations after all three movements during its February performances.

“It’s not important to become a professional musician, but it is important to enjoy the music,” Sant’Ambrogio said. “And the enthusiasm makes up for the expertise.”

The spring program will include “Divertissement 20-minute intermission” by Jacques Ibert; “Wakinyan Tanka” by Matthew Naughtin; “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius; and “Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun” by Claude Debussy.

Richardson thinks Debussy’s piece is the most sensuous, beautiful piece ever written for orchestra.

“This piece kind of shook the world,” Richardson said.

The program Richardson chose for “The Sounds of Spring” concert is forcing the orchestra to confront music that is extremely challenging.

“The music is so compelling that it inspires them to do the kind of work that requires them to grow,” he said.

¤ “The Sounds of Spring” concerts by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra

¤ 7.pm. today and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday

¤ Tonight’s show is at Moffat County High School; Saturday and Sunday’s shows are at Steamboat Christian Center on East U.S. Highway 40

¤ $10 for adults; $5 for senior citizens and students; and $1 for children 12 and younger

¤ 879-9008, ext.107