Holiday cheer

Steamboat orchestra to perform in Craig

Local musicians are ready to kick off the holiday season with the sounds of brass, strings and percussion.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra Holiday Concert 2005 is set for this weekend, and members will play in Craig at 7 p.m. Friday at Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane.

The program will include classical pieces and contemporary ones, including "The Night Before Christmas."

"The fun part is the audience sing along," Jim Simpson said. "Everybody gets a chance to sing along with a full orchestra, so that's fun."

He has been involved with the group since its beginning 12 years ago. Simpson will play the trumpet this weekend, but he also plays French horn, viola and classical guitar.

He is one of four Craig members playing in the orchestra this weekend. The others are cellist Mary Karen Solomon, violinist Sandra Kruczek and percussionist and pianist Gail Petch.

The orchestra includes about 50 members, some of whom travel from as far as Boulder and Littleton.

The conductor is Ernest Richardson, who flies in for rehearsals from Omaha, Neb., where he conducts the Omaha Symphony Orchestra. He has been with the group for about one year. The orchestra is busy rehearsing this week while Richardson is in town.

"I think the music Ernest Richardson shows how he's brought this orchestra to a higher level," Kruczek said. "I think people will be really surprised by what they hear."

This weekend's concert is one of three the group performs each year. It also puts on a Valentine's Day dance music show and spring concert around Easter.

Simpson said he's most excited for the group's performance of "Sleigh Ride." Richardson pulls a few children from the audience to help with percussion on the tune.

"It's fun to see Ernest try to direct them," Simpson said. "You just can't have a Christmas concert without 'Sleigh Ride.'"

The orchestra also has performances set for 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, both at the Steamboat Christian Center, 821 Doughtery Road, Steamboat Springs.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Kids younger than 12 get in free. Tickets are available at the Museum of Northwest Colorado, the Colorado North-western Community College bookstore and at the door.

Simpson said he's eager to be on stage and ring in the holiday season with some classical favorites. He said being in this orchestra is different from any other group in which he's played.

"It's kind of a whole different world really," Simpson said. "It gives you goosebumps."

Kruczek said she is excited to be a part of the audience's holidays through timeless music she thinks everyone will enjoy.

"It'll be such a nice kickoff to their Christmas," she said. "It's just snuggling in and letting the music transform their holiday season."

For more information about the Holiday Concert 2005, call Kruczek at 824-2243.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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