Fine-tuned fellowship

Sandra Kruczek can think of few things that are more beautiful than friends sharing the experience of music together.

Jim Simpson feels no stronger motivation than watching children blossom as they learn to appreciate music.

Local musicians Sandra Kruczek, Mary Karen Solomon and Jim Simpson and Hayden resident Katie Grobe will perform with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra in what is promised to be a lively, colorful and entertaining performance March 25 at Moffat County High School.

The last time that the orchestra scheduled a Craig performance Mother Nature limited attendance.

"Several years ago there was a concert here and at 25 minutes to 7, a blizzard blew in that would have knocked your socks off," Kruczek said. "We ended up playing for a handful of people."

This year, the orchestra is hopeful that residents of all ages will come out to enjoy a bit of culture, regardless of the weather.

"The music is so lively and so melodious and beautiful that people will be astonished when they hear it," Kruczek said. "The music is fast and upbeat."

Sometimes the thought of sitting through a classical music concert is more than many Craig residents are willing to entertain, Simpson said, but a full orchestra that is all acoustic with no amplification brings a new dynamic to the listening experience.

"This concert will offer a full, rich orchestra sound with lots of brass, strings and percussion that will be neat for people," Simpson said. "Strings add so much different color than winds and reeds."

Friday's concert will offer a mix of traditional classical music by Handle and Mozart, but will also feature more popular music such as "Hoe Down," by Aaron Copland often recognized as the theme song in the "Beef -- it's what's for dinner," commercials. Even though some of the popular tunes have been heard before, there's nothing like the real thing.

"It's so much fun to hear this live. Holy mackerel. Live music is so different and so much more vibrant than listening to a really good CD," Kruczek said. "There is an absolute positive interaction between the musicians themselves and the audience -- a real human connection."

Listening to music that might not be mainstream and hearing it in a different way helps listeners to build a level of appreciation for the time and effort that goes into a live performance. The Craig musicians travel to Steamboat Springs at least once per week and sometimes twice for a minimum of two hours of practice weekly.

The orchestra is an all-volunteer group that practices under the guidance of Ernest Richardson, the resident conductor for the Omaha Symphony, which takes the group to a new level Kruczek said.

"It's like we have a leader to say, 'Come with me and let me show you something more,'" Kruczek said of Richardson. "All of this relates to our ability to bring music to the communities that we live in and to encourage people in the community to play."

Simpson, who is a music teach-er and plays multiple instruments, enjoys the adventure of traveling through time to see how music has evolved and changed, which makes classical pieces so special to him.

"If you don't appreciate the old, it's very difficult to learn the new," he said.

"It amazes me how music all goes back to the basics -- all of the big names learned on the old original music and eventually perfected it to make their own unique sound."

Perhaps the most important lesson Simpson can teach is that becoming truly good at playing a musical instrument takes a lifetime of prac-tice.

"If you listen to the radio today, there is some stuff that's pretty complex," he said. "Kids come in (to my class) and want to learn how to play the modern stuff. You need about 10 years worth of experience to play such complicated notes."

Musicians who are interested in practicing and playing again in an orchestra should call Leland Miller at 871-9167.

For players interested in the Cedar Mountain Ensemble, call Sandra Kruczek at 824-2243 or Jim Simpson at 824-4138.

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