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When it comes to summer in Steamboat, Strings Music Festival is the place to be for bringing world class performances and programs to town. If you’re under the impression it’s all classical, all the time, think again: Strings’ lineup spans a wide variety of music genres and has expanded to include comedic acts and collaborations with other local non-profits to create programming that is both world class and community oriented. On top of that, it’s not just about sold out shows and high-dollar tickets for entry: There’s also a lineup of regular free, outdoor events that often combine music from featured artists with activities like yoga and star gazing that are fun for the whole family. Whether it’s on the stage at the famous Strings Music Pavilion, on the grass at the Yampa River Botanic Park, or beneath the stars at Legacy Ranch, this summer will give you something to sing about.

We caught up with Program Director Katie Carroll to get the inside scoop on can’t-miss concerts and other events that have only just been announced for the 2023 summer season.

Can’t-miss classical.

From our classical subscription series there are two international artists I’m super excited about. The first is Anna Geniushene, the 2022 Cliburn Silver Medalist. If you’re not familiar, the Cliburn is like the Olympics of amateur piano playing and takes place only once every four years in Fort Worth, TX. Genuishene is a Russian pianist who won the competition when she was six months pregnant. I was shocked she was still traveling by plane, never mind competing! She is truly a phenomenon, and we are so excited to see her perform here in Steamboat.

Just after that, we are thrilled to be hosting Dublin Guitar Quartet. We are so excited for to finally host this unique ensemble that has devoted its career to performing contemporary music, which is so unique within its genre. With the help of eight and eleven-string guitars, the quartet has created an original catalog of arrangements by composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Arvo Part and Gyorgy Ligeti. Between Covid and securing their Visas, we have been trying to get them Stateside for six years, so it’s been a long time coming but worth the wait!

From cinema to sound.

We are very excited to be hosting a special film and music concert featuring the famous scores of John Williams, the most famous American film composer of all time. Conducted by Brett Mitchell, former Director of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, this all-star lineup of brass musicians will perform a totally original arrangement that has never been heard before and is unlikely to ever be heard again. This will feature a compilation of Williams’s famous scores from blockbuster films from Star Wars and Indiana Jones to Jurassic Park. This is music we all know and love, and totally unique to this performance here in Steamboat. We are over the moon excited about this one!

Just for laughs.

Strings has jumped into the comedy world! This summer we’re presenting readings and talks with David Sedaris on July 18 and the author and actor Fran Lebowitz on August 8. We are coordinating with Bud Warner Memorial Library and Off The Beaten Path bookstore who will sell books on site for author signings. Jennie Lay, Festival Director for Literary Sojourn and the Adult Programs Coordinator for Bud Werner Memorial Library, will interview Lebowitz, and we are so thrilled to have a member of our community on stage. Sedaris will do a reading and then take questions. We can’t wait to host these literary giants in Steamboat.

The band is back together again.

We’re super excited to have Grammy Award Winners Nickel Creek back on the Pavilion stage. The beloved Americana band took a break but now they’re back together and just released their first album since 2014. They are getting great reviews, so we’re thrilled to have them back in the Boat for this special reunion tour. Amos Lee is also returning on August 9, and will be performing music from a new tribute album featuring the music of Chet Baker, so expect that cool jazz element. This is the first time we’ve ever hosted an artist who is playing tribute to another musician in such an organic way, not in the form of covers, but with all original music. This will also be a great show.

Free to be you and me.

Strings is looking forward to celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Music on the Green and our quarter century-long partnership with Yampa River Botanic Park. We’re going to have an awesome gathering with a free special happy hour music show on August 23. We’ll have wine, beer, and food trucks for a special concert with local artist Jay Roemer. Other free programming this summer includes a partnership with Yampatika for Musical Stargazing at Legacy Ranch. This is a great one for families with kids. The first half of the program will be a short music concert and the second half will feature Colorado Mountain College Astronomy Professor Paul McCudden and a lecture about where things are in the sky. This is weather dependent, so keep your fingers crossed for clear skies!

We’re also starting a new partnership with Dusky Grouse, our team’s fave coffee shop. Our classical artists will be heading over for short musical demonstrations followed by a community conversation. This is a really exciting opportunity for locals to meet these nationally known touring ensembles and to pull back the curtain to learn whatever you want to know. Last but not least, we are going to continue our Wednesday morning yoga classes at the Festival Park behind the pavilion. These outdoor flow classes are set to music recordings from Strings artists. I personally find the water feature out there really soothing and we have a great view of the ski area. Classes run weekly from the end of June to the end of August and are by donation. Come rollout your mat with me and cheers to a great summer of music, comedy, and community. //stringsmusicfestival.com  

*All photography complements of Daniel Kelley, Strings Photographer