About 45 Alpine Orchestra musicians will perform their Brahms- inspired spring concert Friday in Leadville, Saturday in Salida and Sunday in Buena Vista.
The show, called “Brahmissimo!,” will feature various arrangements composed or inspired by Johannes Brahms.
The orchestra features musicians from all over the state, including five musicians who are still in either middle school or high school.
Conductor Beth Steele, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who directed Army bands in the U.S. and Europe and now lives in Breckenridge, said, “For every concert I pick music the orchestra hasn’t played.
“My mom is a pianist; she played a lot of Brahms. I thought it would be fun to do an all-Brahms show.”
Mary Hollman, a violinist and violist from Buena Vista, said the nice thing about performing music composed by Brahms is the melody is buried, and “we have to listen to one another.”
She said Steele is such a good conductor that she encourages people to listen to one another.
“If a conductor is good enough, all they have to do is start you off, then they could just walk off stage,” she said.
The other musicians said they hoped Steele wouldn’t walk off stage after starting them off, even if it appears it would be OK.
Steele said she is always impressed by the dedication of the musicians.
She said she is consistently asking them to challenge themselves, and time and again they step up to the challenge.
Brenda Covert, a flutist from Mesa Antero, said that could be attributed to Steele’s style of conducting and the way she gives criticism without making performers defensive.
“If Beth says, ‘You need to practice for 20 minutes, and you need to practice for 10,’ there’s no complaining. People just do it.
“I’ve never seen a conductor do that before,” she said.
Steele said she thinks it is important for people to have fun and learn when performing in the Alpine Orchestra.
About a year ago, the orchestra was faced with another learning experience, welcoming a new young percussionist onto the team, Molly McMurry, an eighth-grader at McGinnis Middle School in Buena Vista.
“They (the orchestra) didn’t have a percussionist, so my band director suggested me and my friend,” McMurry said.
She said when she was younger her parents listened to a lot of ’80s rock music, which influenced her love of drums, but her mom didn’t want to buy her a drum kit. However, she said her mom did agree to get her a djembe, a type of African drum, and that was where she began.
She said in fourth grade she began taking lessons, and she now owns an electronic drum set that she practices on at home.
McMurry has played a total of three shows with the orchestra but said that she doesn’t see herself playing music professionally.
“I want to work on my family’s ranch,” she said.
Bill Reeves, a Salida trombone player, said that in orchestra it tends to be difficult to find a student orchestra or find a band program that caters to string players, and Alpine Orchestra opens up opportunities for young orchestra performers.
“No matter the color of your skin or how old you are, playing music is a wonderful way to connect,” Hollman said.
She and Covert agreed that music is a universal language, and no “predetermined skepticisms” about people inhibit individuals from playing music together.
“It’s a wonderful thing to do with others,” Hollman said.
Reeves said, “The most fascinating thing is I can go to the middle of Europe, go to Italy, with my trombone, not speak the language and find people who play, and we can all play together.”
He said he had previously drifted from the orchestra, but “for some people, music is like grieving – you have to do it.”
The orchestra will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Old Church on Harrison Street in Leadville, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Salida SteamPlant, 220 W. Sackett Ave., and 3 p.m. Sunday at Clearview Community Church, 457 Rodeo Road in Buena Vista.
Admission is free, but donations to the nonprofit orchestra will be accepted.
For more information about the orchestra, visit alpineorchestra.org.