By Jeffrey V. Smith
For 39 years, the Estes Park Music Festival has transformed its small Colorado hometown from an attraction for mountain adventure into a destination for musical exploration. The music festival, featuring Colorado’s finest musicians, provides community members elevated cultural events without having to leave town while bringing an economic benefit to the community. It also helps expose children, who are admitted free, to classical music.
This season, the festival presents more than two dozen concerts on Sundays from October to April along with three major orchestral concerts during the summer in the Stanley Hotel Concert Hall. Like the past several years, national and international award winning artists have also been included in the schedule. Many favorites from past seasons return this year, while “new experiences await.” Two of the concerts, including Nov. 2, are free.
“The festival exposes our community to a wide variety of music, musicians and compositions from artists throughout the world, many of whom have performed at prestigious venues and before distinguished audiences,” Director of Programs and Development Nancy Stevens said. “It is one of the goals of the music festival to provide a varied series that will peak the interest of the diversity of music lovers. We also like to present experiences in music to help the audience grow and appreciate the fabulous talent available.” Stevens works with Peterbark Productions in Boulder to program the series which features new groups and soloists and the return of audience favorites.
The popular music series began in 1977 when Boulder’s newly-formed Colorado Chamber Orchestra provided several concerts in Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland and Estes Park. Each succeeding season, Estes Park volunteers continued to organize a series with music provided by what is now known as the Colorado Music Festival.
Three million tourists a year pass through the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. By continuing to present the Colorado Music Festival and the Winter Series at the Stanley Hotel, festival organizers hope to introduce the sounds of classical, pop and patriotic music to the diverse community and tourist population.
For more than 20 years, The Stanley Hotel has partnered with the series by providing the hotel’s historic Concert Hall. According to Stevens, the acoustics are “unequaled” in Colorado
for a hall its size. “Every concert series needs an excellent venue and the beautiful Stanley Hotel is the perfect mountain setting for an hour of wonderful relaxing Sunday afternoon entertainment,” she said. The director, who is “grateful” to the hotel’s management and staff for “their incredible support and generosity,” also believes the Concert Hall, which boasts dramatic high ceilings, large windows and a ghost or two, adds an “extra ingredient” of history and adventure.
The concert series attracts a mostly local audience, but, according to Stevens, one in five concert attendees lives outside the immediate Estes Park area. They come from places like Denver, Lyons, Loveland, Fort Collins, Longmont and Boulder and audiences also include tourists visiting from the United States and abroad.
Stevens explained two thirds of the nonprofit’s funding comes from ticket sales while the rest is raised from individual contributions, special events and grants. “Our programs are made possible by donations from individual contributors,” she said. “We welcome gifts in any amount.”
Donations, which can be made online at the festival’s Website and through Colorado Gives or sent to their Estes Park business office (P.O. Box 4290, Estes Park, CO 80517), can be tax deductible. Additionally, each concert has sponsorship, which costs just $200. “This money goes toward general operating costs and increasing compensation for our artists. We are dedicated to providing our talented musicians a fair compensation for their efforts,” Stevens added.
Thanks to the continued support the series already receives, ticket prices remain inexpensive at $10 a concert, or blocks of 10 concerts for $80, with children admitted at no cost. Music Festival attendees also receive a 20 percent discount for brunch or dinner on the day of the concert at Stanley Hotel Cascade Restaurant.
“We have become as much a part of the atmosphere around Estes as the snow-capped Rockies. The Estes Park Music Festival is pleased to present a unique family, community and diverse tourist attraction for the town of Estes Park that is affordable and available year round,” Stevens said.
November’s concerts kick off with a free event, Nov. 2, featuring the United States Air Force Academy Band, Rampart Winds. On Nov. 9, Cantabile Singers choir performs and on Nov. 16, Jorgenson and Bryant perform on violin and piano. The final two concerts of the months are Nov. 23 with William Westney on piano and Nov. 30 with steel drum ensemble Pan Nation. All concerts begin at 2 p.m.
Concerts in December include the Jubilate Sacred Singers chorus, Dec. 7; Windy Peak jazz and classical ensemble, Dec. 14; Sorcha Barr and Sara Corry on flute and harp, Dec. 21; and the jazz of Paul Shinn Trio on Dec. 28.
Other concerts in the season include Lamont Saxophone Quartet, Trio Cordilleras, Sandra Wong and the Thyme Quartet, Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Lark Powers, Boulder Bassoon Quartet, Giddy Up Kitty a season finale with the Estes Valley Chamber Singers and many more. A second free concert takes place April 4 featuring Peggy Lyon on piano and Gregory Dufford on clarinet.
Learn more and see the entire calendar of concerts visit http://www.estesparkmusicfestival.org, call 970-586-9519 or e-mail info@EstesParkMusicFestival.org. The festival’s Business Office is located at Hobert Office Services, 1140-A Manford Ave. in Estes Park.
Originally published in the November 2014 issue of MMAC Monthly