04/01/2009 01:00 ● Published by Nora Parker
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by Nora ParkerPatrons of the arts lining up outside the Strings Music Pavillion. Photo courtesy of Corey KopischkePulling all the StringsStrings Music Festival gets nedirector Andrés Cárdenes and his wife, Monique Mead, took the helm as the nemusic directors of the Strings Music Festival last winter. The pair, who has been involved in the festival for years, promises to add its own flair to the 21-year-old festival. Monique has devoted much of her music career to getting youth excited about classical music. With her charm and enthusiasm, she is packaged just right for what is likely to be a challenging job. “Young people are just as important in the classical music world here as in Europe,” she says. “I try to understand what’s hot for kids in a certain area and key in on it.” She tells the story of hoshe developed a program in San Diego that focused on baseball – a favorite sport there. She took the famous riff from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – the one that goes “Dada-da-DUM” – and pretended it was a baseball. Then she focused on what might be done with that ball; throit around to different players or musicians, or get a feballs going at the same time by having musicians echo the riff. “People get it through things like that,” she says. “We have to make it accessible.” Andrés and Monique plan to lighten up some of the festival’s classical offerings. One example: the Wednesday Night Lite program will be shortened and start earlier to make it more accessible. “This music will be enticing and stimulating, but nothing heavy,” she says. “Think of it as hors d’oeuvres vs. the main course, which will be showcased on Saturday evenings. “Andrés is a genius for programming,” she adds. “He always has a wonderful mix and interesting flavors.” Andrés, who has been involved with the festival for 15 years, originally hails from Cuba. He is the artistic director and conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra and is the concert master of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He’ll bring some “Latino-Americano multicultural elements” to the programming, and audiences may hear a fetangos along the way, Monique says. “We’re going to bring in the chutneys and garnishes and other things that you wouldn’t expect on a classical program,” she says. NeStrings Music Festival directors Andres Cardenes and his wife, Monique Mead. Photo courtesy of Ken Wright Saturday concerts include heavyhitters playing with the Strings Festival Orchestra. Opening night (Saturday, June 27) features guest violinist Elmar Oliveira, a 2009 Grammy nominee. He’s followed by pianist Jon Kimura Parker on Saturday, July 11, playing Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano, inspired by Italian painter Botticelli. Much of July’s program follows the promised Latino-Americano flavor. On Saturday, July 18, Mexico’s Cuarteto Latinoamerico takes the stage, followed the following Saturday by the Gryphon Trio (piano), whose latest CD, Tango Nuevo, features compositions by Piazzolla and Argentinian Alberto Ginastera.
Hard Times, Creative Solutions That's the effect of the economicdownturn on our town's artsorganizations? "Unfortunately, the arts organizationsare the proverbial canary in the coal minein tough economic times," says Betsey Jay,executive director of the Yampa ValleyCommunity Foundation."People typically continue tobe generous donors, but theytend to shift to more immediatehuman needs." City funding cuts andfewer private donations havealready caused major changesfor the Steamboat Springs Perry-Mansfield is promoting its summer camp program by displaying this fine art poster at the Chamber Resort Association, concierge desks and other high-traffic locations throughout town. Photo courtesy of Perry-Mansfield.Arts Council. From a high ofabout $50,000, city fundingwas cut to $16,000 during thelast budget cycle, according toKelly Anzalone, president ofthe arts council board ofdirectors. Private donationsand grant funds have alsodiminished. "Clever solutions?That's really the problem,"Kelly says. "We've obviouslyhad to cut back on our staffingand services, and we're workingon hoto solve it." For the moment, the focuswill be on performing arts andthe annual Art in the Parkfestival, which takes placeSaturday and Sunday, July 11-12. Kelly mentions a filmseries, as well as music andtheater performances as possibilities.The annual Cabaretfundraiser will also continueto be a strong event, he adds. Times are also tight atEmerald City Opera, saysfounder and artistic directorKeri Rusthoi. The opera company stagesone major production a year during thesummer. This year's is The Elixir of Love byGaetano Donizetti, Saturday, Aug. 8,Thursday, Aug. 13, and Saturday, Aug. 15. According to Keri, the solution ischamber opera � in a smaller, more intimatesetting. The orchestra will includeabout 13 musicians instead of 30; therewon't be a fancy set imported from NewYork; and most importantly, the annualperformance won't take place at theSteamboat Springs High School's auditorium.Instead it will be staged at the JulieHarris Theatre at the Perry-MansfieldPerforming Arts Camp. "The opera isbeing set in the 1800s in the Old West, sothe Julie Harris Theatre definitely worksfor that," she says. By expanding to threeshows instead of two, the organizationexpects to sell the same number of tickets.A bonus is that alcohol can be served, arevenue stream not availableat the high school. Perry-Mansfield executive directorJune Lindenmayer adds thatit, too, is exploring creativesolutions to keep its summerperforming arts program aliveand well. "The primary thingwe're doing is cross-marketingto the winter tourists,"June says. Nestrategiesinclude an ad at the YampaValley Regional Airport, adowntown windodisplay,framed "art" posters atconcierge desks in condosand at the Chamber's office,and making a bigger splash atthe Winter Carnival's parade.She adds that the organizationis within striking distanceof its 100th anniversaryand has made it throughplenty of tough times inthe past. Perhaps the valley's mostsuccessful and fiscally healthyarts organization is theStrings Music Festival. But itisn't immune, either. "It'saffecting us like everyoneelse," says executive directorKay Claggett. The organization'sapproach is to squeezethe operating budget andleave the performance budgetalone. "We approached it alittle differently and decided what weweren't going to cut," Kay says. "Andthat's our quality, who we're bringing in.That has stayed sacred to us."A Creative Solution - Center for Visual Arts gets resourceful The winner for the most creativesolution to the economic downturn'spressure on the arts community goes tothe Center for Visual Arts. When LindaLaughlin learned her position as visual artsdirector � as well as that of her assistantGabrielle Savage � was being eliminatedas part of the budget cuts and the refocusat the Steamboat Springs Arts Council,she concocted a plan. The Center for Visual Arts will be avenue for lesser-known communityartists, and will also serve as a center forother visual arts projects and activities,Linda says. The space is located on NinthStreet next to Off the Beaten Path. "There are many wonderful artistswho are represented by the commercialgalleries in town," Linda says. With her position at the Steamboat Springs Art Council eliminated, Linda Laughlin created a nevenue for local artists to shotheir work. Photo courtesy of Ken Wright. "But thereare so many more artists in town lookingfor opportunities to shotheir work in asetting like this." The artists to whomLinda is referring are those who don'tnecessarily have a body of work extensiveenough to warrant a solo or even groupshow. "Because we're a nonprofit gallery,our goal is to represent artists who are notrepresented by the other galleries intown," she says. "This is a more affordableopportunity for them." The typical business model for agallery involves a commission structure,and a commercial gallery might keep asmuch as 40 percent of the proceeds froma sale of a piece of art. Linda plans to keeponly 10 percent of the proceeds from salesof the work of community artists. Hercommitment is to hang every piece ofcommunity-produced art that the communitycan offer her to hang. "We absolutely need to receive donationsto make this work, there's no doubtabout it," she says. "But I'm really intothe $10 and $20 donations � I guess I'dcall it the Obama method." While showing community art is themajor goal, there are minor goals as well.Linda wants to shomore established artists who have enough work for a smallshow. These are emerging artists withmaybe six or eight pieces to show, whoneed a chunk of space in a gallery, butaren't ready for a solo show. Another goal addresses the dearth ofteen hang-out options. An after-hours artcenter/retreat for high school kids interestedin the arts is in the planning stages,with Linda envisioning everything fromdrafting tables to lounge space. A final goal is to help people findhomes for unloved art. The "Art RecyclingLoft" is a program allowing people to bringin art they no longer want and put it onconsignment. Linda also envisions a highendgift store with art-oriented books,jewelry and similar items. "This is mything in Steamboat," she says. "I reallywant to support community visual arts."