Saturday, August 20, 2005
Judging from the mediocre attendance at the Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory concerts at St. Paul's Church this summer, it would appear that many Steamboat residents are unaware of the exceptional quality of the classical and jazz musicians who have performed there for the past six weeks. RMSC has just finished its third season in Steamboat but has gone unrecognized by the media or public for its significant contributions to our cultural scene.
Eclipsed by the more glamorous, highly publicized -- and sometimes high-priced -- concerts at Strings in the Mountains, RMSC has presented a variety of string (including harp and piano) offerings with no admission charge. Recent faculty performances by the talented jazz musicians James Giles (bass) and Russ Schmidt (piano) were appreciated by the fewer than 100 people who attended. A performance of Erno Dohnanyi's modern piano quintet a few nights ago caused the small audience to erupt into applause even before the second movement began.
In the late 1980s, John Sant'-Ambrogio brought Strings in the Mountains to Steamboat. His original intent was to provide a music camp/school for students learning string instruments. The camp's teachers and their students then would give public performances for the enjoyment of the town. Strings since has evolved to emphazise very high quality concerts often with celebrity performers.
RMSC has followed Sant'Amb-rogio's earlier model of the camp/school. We townspeople should be very grateful for both of these institutions, but I fear that without greater support for RMSC, we may lose it and its talented director, Ernst Richardson, who is also the director of our local orchestra. My hat goes off to Richardson and his greatly gifted and highly dedicated staff.