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Craig man to perform with Steamboat Springs Orchestra

Bridget Manley

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Orchestra holiday concert

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Moffat County High School

Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for youths

— Jim Simpson clearly remembers his first public musical performance.

Simpson was 10 years old, attending elementary school in Craig. His principal called him to the office and told him to get his horn.

The day was Nov. 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

As students and teachers gathered around the flag pole on the school’s front lawn, he played Taps in remembrance of the fallen president while drivers moving slowly down Yampa Avenue saluted the flag lowered at half mast.

Since that day, Simpson has had numerous other opportunities to put his musical skills to work, often at more joyful events. At 7 p.m. Friday at the Moffat County High School, Simpson and four other Moffat County residents will perform a medley of holiday arrangements with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra.

For more than 10 years, Simpson has performed in the group, which recently began attempting more complex musical compositions.

When the orchestra formed in 1990, it was composed of local musicians who kept the performances simple, said Jody Patten, marketing director for the Steamboat Springs Orchestra.

In recent years, the orchestra has tackled more complex works, including the Mozart’s “Jupiter” and Beethoven’s Seventh, Patten said.

At its holiday concert, the orchestra will perform a selection of classical pieces including music from “The Nutcracker” and “Variations on a Rococco Theme” by Tchaikovsky. The orchestra will also play more contemporary peices including “Deck the Halls,” “Christmas Festival,” “Stille Nacht,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Christmas Angels Sing-a-long.”

The orchestra consists of nearly 50 musicians. With the exception of an occasional tuba or oboe player brought in to fill a part, the orchestra relies on talent from Craig and Steamboat Springs. The chance to see people they know perform well-known pieces resonates with audiences, Patten said.

Simpson is among those familiar faces. Born and raised near Craig, he works and lives on the family ranch.

Simpson has played in several performances, including the MCHS production of “Oklahoma!” this year.

Somewhere between caring for stock and tending to ranch business, Simpson finds time to practice at least an hour and a half every day.

He doesn’t practice only one instrument. Throughout the years, he’s taught himself to play trumpet, French horn, viola and classical guitar.

Simpson also is a member of the Craig Concert Association and has helped organize the local talent concert for seven years.

“I’ve played in the silly thing since its first inception (in the 1970s),” he said.

This year, Craig businesses have purchased holiday concert tickets to be donated for Craig students.

Introducing children to different music venues is an important purpose the orchestra serves in the community, Simpson said.

“I think it’s important for kids to know there’s other kinds of instruments” besides band instruments, he said.


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