Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra stages spring concert
April 20, 2017
If You Go …
What: Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra Spring Concert
Where: Edlis Neeson Hall, Bucksbaum Campus, Aspen
When: Sunday, April 23, 1:30 p.m.
How much: Free
More info: RFYO.org
Now in its sixth year, the Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra will take the stage for its spring concert at Edlis Neeson Hall on the Aspen Music School's Bucksbaum Campus on Sunday. An independent nonprofit, the program is one of few opportunities for young people to play classical music together in the valley. The orchestra showcases the talents of 50 local students — ages 6 to 18 — playing violin, viola, cello and bass. For the first time, the orchestra also includes winds and brass sections this spring.
Kids come to the symphony from Aspen and throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, and from as far as Grand Mesa and Parachute. The nonprofit was originally founded to fill the void in classical music instruction in local public schools, where there is currently no string music instruction during the school day.
"We play a mix of classical music and traditional music," said cellist and Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra mentor Sarah Graf. "We always have a fiddle tune. We keep it varied."
This year the fiddle number is the program opener, "Devil's Dream," which is to be performed by the nine-member Preparatory section of the orchestra — made up of violin and cello players as young as 6.
The spring concert is broken down into three sections. After the Preparatory kids play, the Sinfonia — made up of fourth- to seventh-graders — perform three pieces. The most advanced group, made up mostly of high schoolers, closes with three works. All three groups will join together to perform Sibelius' "Finlandia."
The instructional team chooses the pieces at the beginning of the semester, giving the orchestra a full three to four months to perfect them.
They practice twice a week throughout the school year under the direction of Bill Capps (also the Aspen Country Day School music director) and with the help of four mentors: Graf, violinists Brittni Brown and Ross Kribbs and viola player Nancy Thomas.
"Between the five of us, we have a wide range of backgrounds," Kribbs said. "We're all capable classical players, some have conservatory experiences, we have an age range. We have different connections with the kids and different musical frames of reference. It works rally well."
And while the spring concerts in Carbondale and Aspen — free and open to the public — are the culmination of a semester's worth of work for the kids, Capps and the mentors maintain a low pressure environment in which the kids can simply enjoy learning and playing together.
"We try to keep it festive and fun," said Graf.
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