BCO’s 14th season, named after our beloved mountains, is a return to our roots and highlights some of the best pieces of the classical period and beyond, with exciting concerti, chamber concerts, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Our season begins in October, with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante (featuring violinist Sharon Park and violist Andrew Krimm) and his Symphony No. 29. We’ll continue with another concerto in November, with pianist Mina Gajic and violinist Zachary Carrettin of the Boulder Bach Festival joining us for Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Piano.

We’ll step away from the classical period briefly in December to present Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar (featuring Chaconne Klaverenga), and De Frumeri’s Pastoral Suite, Op. 13 (featuring our own Cobus du Toit on flute). While Rodrigo’s piece is well known, Swedish composer de Frumerie is not a household name, and Maestro Saless and du Toit are excited to present this work to the Boulder community.

Mini Chamber Concerts in January and March will feature Coleman Itzkoff on cello, Alin Melik-Adamyan on piano, and the Altius Quartet, the University of Colorado Boulder’s Fellowship String Quartet.

Vocal music will not be neglected this season: soprano Christie Conover will join us to perform Beethoven’s Egmont Incidental Suite in February, while in March, we will once again collaborate with the Boulder Chorale, this time to perform Mozart’s Reqiuem.

We hope you will join us for this exciting season of concerti, familiar favorites, and novelties. Get your season pass today!

Behind the Non-Profit: Jodi Martin of Out Boulder County

Out Boulder County educates, advocates and provides services, programs and support for Boulder County's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities.  They are a truly community-driven organization, with over 150 active colunteers.  Throughout the year, they host events, bring together diverse communities, and help frequently marginalized people find the support, resources, and community they need.

Jodi McCall is the President of their Board of Directors, and is a founding Partner of Martin Law Office LLC, where she focuses on legal matters impacting the LGBTQ community, their allies, and individuals impacted by HIV. Read on to learn more about her work with the LGBTQ community in the Boulder area, and what message she finds in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony!

What music do you like to listen to?

I prefer music with a meaning – I pay attention to the lyrics and interpret the music through that lens. You can also go beyond the lyrics, though, and just hear the music, and you can really get a sense of meaning. I like the Indigo Girls, some country music, and symphonies. I just went to the CU Symphony and Indigo Girls concer. We sat near the top, and could look out over entire hall. It's a pretty diverse group of people from Boulder, and with the Indigo Girls, there were lots of LGBTQ people. It was such a diverse community: plenty of same-sex couples, single folks, straight folks. Everyone was singing, lip synching, moving in their seat. Everyone was smiling, happy, and in the moment. Music is a way to come back and feel grounded, and to express who you are.

What’s your favorite piece by Beethoven?

I love the 5th. It just draws you in with the powerful start – dun dun dun DUNNNNNN. When they start it, it stops you, and you start paying attention. I also like that the 5th and 9th symphonies are part of daily life – you hear them in church, in movies, in commercials and different contexts.

What message do you take from the Ode to Joy?

 It’s this message that we all belong, not just some, but all of us. So many different voices are involved, from instruments to vocalists. Our music is more powerful when all the voices of the multitude come together, and together we’re stronger.

How does that apply to the present day?

There's a reference in the words to "what custom has kept apart." In Beethoven's time period, he was probably referring to classes, but in the context of the Unity Concert, it rings true for the LGBTQ community. Custom has kept many in the closet, and kept families from being recognized. By finding joy in ourselves, and being out and proud, we've moved our world forward. While we still have many struggles, I think the piece touches on the fact that everything isn't perfect, but the magic of our joy is that we're able to continue moving forward through finding our own voices and uniting in joy.

What about Out Boulder? How does music relate to your community there?

Music has a deep connection for many people and many groups. For the LGBTQ community, the music connection runs deep. Many people have used music as an outlet for emotions, identity, and their voices. You can look at known musicians who have performed both in and out of the closet. I think musicians who are both known and unknown – for example, a kid who comes home from school - they're writing lyrics as a way to express themselves and give themselves a voice. Even if it's unknown to the world, it's a way to express themselves.

Our community has historically found music venues, like gay dance clubs, to be safe spaces. It's a place to express yourself without fear of judgement. There's not a pride fest that's complete without a dance party. Whether you're still in the closet or out and proud, when you can walk into a dance party, you're in a safe space. Ideally, it's a place where you can just be you, and feel safe. Music is a huge part for our community.


We are delighted to partner with Out Boulder County for our Unity Concert. Please join us, May 5 at Macky Auditorium to celebrate unity and joy.

A Message from the Board

To the Community:

Performing classical music is labor of love. The music director and board members involved with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra do not stand to profit from classical music in any monetary way. In fact, the opposite is the case. We invest our own time, effort, talents, and monetary resources into classical music and its performances because we believe in the importance and power of classical music. 

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on the importance of the arts. Public support of funding of classical music, and the arts in general, has been decreasing exponentially over the last several decades. Organizations like ours have increasingly been forced to look towards private donations and corporations to help fund our mission to educate and expand the cultural fabric of our city. Please note that ticket sales account for a small portion of our operating budget and individual and corporate donations are necessary to survive and thrive as a nonprofit.

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra understands your concerns in the matter of corporate sponsorship, and we appreciate your point of view.  As a small, non-profit arts organization, we accept donations in the spirit of equal opportunity, as do other organizations in our community.  Moreover, as a 501(c)(3) public charity organization, we do not take political positions nor lobby for political candidates. Our nonprofit mission is to promote classical music and that remains our goal for this concert and beyond.

The donations we received for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 are being used to fund free tickets for Boulder Valley School District, Jefferson County School District, and St. Vrain Valley School District students to attend these performances. Students have responded eagerly to our offer, and we must honor our commitment to them.

We understand corporate donations may present difficult and controversial issues, but we viewed the acceptance of funds as way of ensuring that some good can come from otherwise divisive issues surrounding corporate stewardship. As a Board, we are committed to bringing the community together for these three Beethoven performances and in the future.

If any individual donors, or a collection of individual donors, or any other organization would like to come forward in the spirit of the community to match the donation we have received to pay for student tickets, we are happy to accept such donations to allow future student ticket sponsorships to our next endeavors.

Thank you for your input, concerns, and connection to the Orchestra. We truly hope you all will come to witness the power, beauty, and grandeur of this 9th Symphony.

The Board of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra

Behind the Non-Profit: Julie Van Domelen of EFAA

Boulder's Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) helps vulnerable people in our community by providing food, housing, and resources to address homelessness, unemployment, and the many misfortunes that can happen to anyone. That's why we're proud to present our Beethoven 9 Unity Concert on May 5 to benefit EFAA and other local non-profits.
Read on to find out what Julie Van Domelen thinks about music and her work as Executive Director of EFAA!

Julie comes to Boulder after 20 years of traveling and living internationally while working for the World Bank. She managed multi-million dollar funding to governments and community-based organizations in Latin America and Africa, and was one of the core team that led the World Bank to increase its support for interventions to reach the poorest households and communities to improve basic services and reduce vulnerability. Her international experience broadened her taste in music, and she loves Latin American and African music. One of her dreams would be to hear the kora (the West African lute) played with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra. She finds it to be a "hauntingly beautiful instrument."

Julie runs an organization that works with people in crisis. For these people, and for the case managers who help them find resources and get through, music can have a powerful effect. Julie believes that "EFAA serves many different facets of the Boulder community. For families struggling to make ends meet, music can be uplifting, energizing, and accessible." 

Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is one of those pieces. The tune has been used for everything from church hymns, to the U.N. Anthem, to protests, to Die Hard. In almost every case, it's used to symbolize the best of human nature, and to bring people together in joy. Julie makes room for other interpretations, but also has a personal take on it: "Like most great pieces of music, the meaning is in the ear of the beholder. To me it speaks of the triumph of the human spirit."

Julie and EFAA know something about the triumph of the human spirit. Please join us May 5 at Macky to support them and their important work in the community.


Behind the Non-Profit: Alejandra Garza of the ACLU

Alejandra Garza has a full-time job as the Field Director for the ACLU of Colorado, where she brings together organizations and individuals to build advocacy, education, and mobilization campaigns, but she still makes time for music. Read on to learn how music shapes her life and work, and to learn more about the work of the ACLU of Colorado, one of the four local non-profits that will benefit from our Unity Concert on May 5, 2017.

Alejandra listens to lots of different music, and she finds that the power of music resonates with her work: "Music can give voice to an oppressed community. It can also convey hope and victory. Growing up in Houston in the 80's  and 90's I was exposed to a wonderful melting pot of music- mariachi music, old-school rap, George Strait and other country classics, The Smiths and classical music from the local NPR station that only aired news four hours a day at that time. But my favorite song of all time is "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen."

David Bowie and Queen might have written her favorite song, but "Ode to Joy" is her favorite piece by Beethoven. According to Alejandra, "As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, this song reminds me of going to Catholic Mass as a child. There's a popular version of this song with Spanish lyrics that we'd sing as a community. It fills a room and makes your heart sing."

Part of the power of the "Ode to Joy" comes from the message that Alejandra finds in it, and the way that it resonates with her work: "Hope can soar above any temporary obstacles we may face.

The ACLU of Colorado works to overcome obstacles faced by Coloradans. They advocate on behalf of people whose rights have been violated, educate people about their civil liberties, and help keep the public informed about public policy. In doing so, they champion the rights of all people, and work to protect, defend, and extend the civil rights and civil liberties. 

The power of music to bring people together and to give them hope makes this Unity Concert special to Alejandra. The concert will benefit the ACLU of Colorado (along with three other local non-profits). "What a wonderful way to unite as a community in the true spirit of this beautiful piece! With so many communities facing challenges and prejudice, it is up to us to stand together and look out for each other. We will resist. We will succeed."

Join the Boulder Chamber Orchestra and Boulder Chorale in their stirring performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 on
May 5, 6, and 7!

The May 5 performance at Macky will benefit Out Boulder County, Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), and the local chapter of the ACLU. Audience members will determine the proportions of the donation and can abstain if they want.

Behind the Music: Jason Baldwin

What's your favorite piece by Beethoven? Why?

Beethoven wrote so many great pieces, it's hard to choose just one...  I have always loved his Fifth Symphony.  How can you not?  I remember hearing it when I was younger in my family's living room.  His Missa Solemnes was one of the first tenor solo jobs for me here in CO, so that will always have a fond spot in my memory, but my favorite is the Ninth Symphony.  Other than Handel's Messiah, it is the piece I have performed most.  My favorite part is in the middle of the fourth movement. The orchestra plays an expansion on the main motifs that slowly consolidates into a repeated unison F#, and then the chorus comes in with the main theme.  There is nothing like it!  Since the soloists are not singing during the climactic moment, I always watch the audience. I get chills from this moment every time, and what makes it even more powerful is seeing the faces of the audience.

What's your favorite repertoire to sing?

I just love to sing.  I cut my teeth on musical theatre rep in high school, and slowly moved toward classical and opera as I learned how to control my instrument.  I still love singing musical theatre though.

Is that different from what you like to listen to? What do you listen to in your non-working time?

Truthfully, I listen to NPR in the car.  I feel sometimes that being in the arts lets me live in my own fantasy world.  NPR often times gives me grounding, and lets me know what is going on in the world.  If I am working outside, let's say, I have a great file of 80's pop hits that always seems to help me get the job done.

What message do you take from the Ode to Joy?

If Beethoven had not adapted this text to this music, I don't know if anyone could.  I think that there is an inner need for everyone to experience joy.  As I have watched the reactions of thousands of audience members to this piece, it is clear to me that the Beethoven 9th is the bringer of joy to so many people, if only for a few moments.

How do you feel about the Unity Concert aspect of BCO? (10% of net ticket proceeds from the Boulder Concert will benefit Out Boulder County, Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), and the local chapter of the ACLU. Audience members will determine the proportions of the donation and can abstain if they want.)

I think this is a wonderful idea, and fits with the Ode to Joy completely.  As a performer, it gives me a deeper sense of worth to be part of this great idea.  Thanks!


Come hear Jason Baldwin on May 5, 6, and 7!




Behind the Music: Malcolm Ulbrick

What's your favorite piece by Beethoven? Why?

I love his Choral works, especially the 9th and the Missa Solemnis, mainly because I love how he integrates the voice as an instrument so fluidly and passionately.  I also enjoy his Piano sonatas, mainly because I can't play worth a darn and they're captivating to me a listener.

What's your favorite repertoire to sing?

Really anything that appeals to me and speaks to my heart.  I'm fond of Mozart but I love to sing Handel and other Baroque composers as well.  I've been equally moved by hearing and performing Schubert lieder and Rodger's and Hammerstein show tunes (particularly Carousel).  

Is that different from what you like to listen to? What do you listen to in your non-working time?

Absolutely,  I enjoy listening to a variety of classical instrumental works because I'm always hearing something that's new and profound to me.  But I have a serious soft spot for classic rock and roll, 60s, 70s and 80s, particularly bands like Journey, Boston, Yes, ELO, and Tom Petty.  Great song writings, powerful music, and sincere text still gets the job done as it has for centuries.  If I wasn't on stage singing classical then I would seriously try to be a Rock Star :-) 

What message do you take from the Ode to Joy?

For me it's a pure and raw celebration of brotherhood and unity, an overwhelmingly hopeful anthem that emerges from a chaotic stew of notes.  It's a reminder that in the complex and daunting tapestry of life, clarity and a way forward is often profoundly simple and direct (perhaps this was the revelation in Beethoven's mind as he composed it.)  It's no wonder that the 9th has been adopted by so many to represent this Joyous, unifying, victorious quality.

How do you feel about the Unity Concert? (10% of net ticket proceeds from the Boulder Concert will benefit Out Boulder County, Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), and the local chapter of the ACLU. Audience members will determine the proportions of the donation and can abstain if they want.)

This is very much in the spirit of the Arts and of the 9th.  That music, a performance, can lead to action and empowerment beyond those who are witness to its performance demonstrates the transcendent and altruistic power of the arts that is too often not followed through upon (mainly because the dire state of funding and support for the arts forces a hand to mouth existence among organizations that are already spread thin).  The future of the arts lies in cross-cultural and cross-disciplined support like this, and we are fortunate enough to have such strong support within our community and foresight of local organizations to make this happen here and now. 

How do you feel about being featured as a Barihunk? (For those wondering, Malcolm was featured last year - )

I love it!  I make sacrifices for the art form and routinely have shirtless scenes in shows (not that I mind it :-) It's nice to have the promotion and support of Barihunks, for both myself and many other established and aspiring singers.  It's just another example of artists supporting one another, and having fun while we're at it.

Come see this Barihunk in action on May 5, 6, and 7!


Behind the Music: Rebecca Robinson

Rebecca Robinson grew up in a musical family in New York. Her parents were both professional musicians, and she began singing in the Metropolitan Opera’s children chorus at the age of 7, on stage with stars such as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Renée Fleming. Her godmother was also an opera singer, and Rebecca would play “diva dress-up” in her boas and big hats on weekend visits.

This background in the arts gave Rebecca a realistic vision of what a musical career could look like. She knew her parents’ success story was an anomaly; that they were “unicorns” in a field that has very few successes. Her parents were very understanding of the patience, tumult, and struggles that come along with a musical career, when she went to graduate school for vocal performance, when she performed full-time, and when she eased back musically to develop her career in marketing and advertising.

Rebecca addressed this recent transition, saying that having a steady job and stability has allowed her to rediscover her passion for performance. Not having to worry about the bills being paid by each gig means that she can now pursue projects for the joy of performing, like recent concerts of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with the Lynn Philharmonia (Boca Raton, FL). Rebecca has also realized that her support of the arts might take a different form than just performance, and is a regular contributor to Classical Public Radio.

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra’s Unity Concert is a natural extension of Rebecca’s career and philanthropy. Colorado has an active and engaged non-profit community, and Rebecca loves the idea of mixing the music and the social justice worlds. She sees it as an occasion for mutual exposure: people who might not go see a classical music concert will come to support their cause, and will hopefully be pleasantly surprised, while classical music patrons will learn about different organizations and their missions.

Drawing people together is central to Rebecca’s interpretation of the “Ode to Joy.” She finds that “the whole purpose of the ‘Ode to Joy’ is to unify people. It embodies that spirit, with people gathered in one place to celebrate goodness, love, and brotherhood. These themes are present throughout the piece, but perhaps not as obviously. Then you get to the ‘Ode to Joy’ and it’s a victory lap. To end a concert in such a way is the cherry on top – the culmination of all those ideals – and is so inspiring.”

Join Rebecca and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra at performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
May 5, 6, and 7!

Beethoven 9: Homage to Brotherhood

A conductor considering directing Beethoven’s 9th symphony can be compared to a chaplain planning a visit to the Vatican or a Muslim cleric visiting Mecca! It is a daunting task and a musical pilgrimage that every conductor must attempt at least once but hopefully many times in his or her career—a cleansing act of utmost beauty and spirituality.

Much of Beethoven’s message contained in Ode to Joy is a direct result of his time and place in history. Though he was born a commoner, Beethoven's musical skills and the power of his compositions allowed him to mingle among the upper crust. He held this class separation in particular disdain and was rebellious and disrespectful toward authority. From his young days witnessing political and cultural events like the French Revolution, Beethoven developed strong beliefs and principles aimed at the common good of mankind.  Regarding the French Revolution, for example, he was thrilled to hear that Napoleon, supposedly an enlightened ruler, might come from France to free central and western Europe from the bonds of hereditary rule—so thrillled, in fact, that he originally dedicated his 3rd symphony to him. But when he heard news that Napoleon had renamed himself “His Imperial Majesty Napoleon the First, Emperor of the French,” Beethoven became violently angry, and ultimately renamed the symphony “Eroica,” or “Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”

In the end, Beethoven’s politics were the same that ended the stranglehold that the church and kings had on Europe for so many centuries, the same politics that framed the great documents that created the United States of America—the politics of freedom and democracy. His symphonies from the very first to the very last provided a landscape of ever-lasting struggle for progressive ideas, breaking rules and ignoring authorities as well as achieving peace, beauty, and meaning. This great task was beautifully accomplished through nine symphonies, seventeen string quartets, and thirty-two piano sonatas that changed the history of music for good.

One knows the 9th best by its monumental last movement based on Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy.”  In this movement Beethoven sets the scene for a journey never traveled before. It is a scene characterized by rejection of the old ways of doing things and a proposal for starting fresh and new—a stage on which to appeal to humanity to forget hatred and bigotry and to embrace love, brotherhood, and belief in the goodness of humanity. 

Musically, Beethoven sets this stage by revisiting the thematic material from the previous movements of the 9th, one at a time, and rejecting it using the powerful musical oration technique of recitative—a human-like monologue written for the lower strings, as if God himself/herself was the messenger.

While the grand journey to this musical utopia is famously outlined in the final movement of the symphony, the other movements are critically important, too, in that they hold the overall structure of the monument like pillars to an ancient city. In my opinion, Beethoven actually starts the symphony with a different, darker version of the idea embodied in the Finale! The opening motif of three sets of descending notes in 4ths and 5ths provides what for me is the imagery of a burial! The burial of everything in the past. These descending figures played by the strings provide incredible imagery of this event set in front of a gradual sunrise presented by the winds in the background. This interpretation perhaps can be best supported by the coda at the end of the movement, which in reality is a hasty funeral march! The first movement therefore represents what Beethoven had been set to do in the final movement already: Bury the old ideas and move on! 

But how do we move on? Where to go next? 

Perhaps the answer lies in reexamining the past. Look at what made Beethoven who he was at the age of 55. This could provide the road map to the next two movements—the inner movements. The second movement  of the symphony, the Scherzo, is perhaps a reminiscing of his moments of young carefree joy and uneasy happiness marked by intense awkwardness, reminding us of a child brought up in poverty who really never had a childhood—a happiness he wished to have had but never really got to know.

The third movement represents the brighter extreme of his life, exemplifying the hope, love, peace, and serenity that may have existed at times during his adulthood, yielding good memories of friendship, youth, health, and romance. These, in turn, rendered Beethoven a lover of humanity and equality, one who is now inscribed in this immortal way of speaking to humanity forever. MUSIC!

Interpreting what Beethoven might have had in his mind to create such an everlasting masterpiece is a privilege that one musician can convey to all those who experience the fulfillment of life through the arts, especially music. In my humble interpretation, Beethoven’s 9th is a seamless cycle made of ridding the world of the old and starting fresh. Just like nature itself.


- Bahman Saless


Join us for Beethoven 9 - May 5, 6, & 7 to celebrate brotherhood and unity. 

Behind the Music: Chloe Trevor

When did you know you wanted to be a star violinist? 

Honestly, I never came to a decision that I would be a professional violinist, I just somehow always knew that I would be. In preschool when they asked us to draw pictures of what we wanted to be when we grew up I would always draw a violinist. When I was 10 I had my first concerto performance with an orchestra, and I remember being on stage, looking into the audience and thinking “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”. I’ve been chasing after that dream ever since.

Tell us about your first performance....

I don’t remember a lot about it since I was around 4 or 5 years old, but it was a violin recital at the Meadows School of Music at SMU, and my dad gave me a gorgeous wooden box with a card from him inside. I still have that box on my bedside table.

What is your favorite place to perform?

Wherever my fans are! :)

Do you have an all time favorite piece? 

It tends to change from time to time, but Shostakovich’s 1st Violin Concerto and Prokofiev’s 1st Violin Sonata have stayed at the top of my list pretty consistently for a number of years.

How many hours a day do you spend practicing? 

Anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours - it just depends on what I have coming up and how busy my schedule is.

What do you do when you are not performing? For Fun? 

Explore towns looking for interesting and cozy coffee shops, experiment with brewing coffee in my Chemex at home, work on calligraphy and hand-lettering in my bullet journal, or spend time with friends. Usually in coffee shops. (I really like coffee.)

Favorite Movie? 

The Last Unicorn

Favorite Food? 

Macaroni and Cheese

Favorite non-classical song or piece of music? 

“Take On Me” by a-ha and “Clocks” by Coldplay


Come see Chloe Trevor perform live

March 4th at Grace Lutheran Church 7:30 PM

Keeping Music in Our Hearts

Along with Valentine's Day, February marks American Heart Month , a time for us all to pause and recommit to the lifestyle changes that lead to a lifetime of heart health.   We all know we should be exercising and eating right but don't forget your daily dose or Beethoven, Bach and Verdi as several research studies suggest that music not only touches our hearts, it may help it function.

In 2015, a group of researchers at Oxford University presented the results of 20 years of studying the effects of music on the cardiovascular system.  The research team was made up of both conservatory trained musicians and biophysicists.  The results of this study suggest that listening to classical music pieces containing a ten second rhythm led to a fall in blood pressure and a heart rate reduction.  Researchers postulated that the ten second rhythm flawlessly coincided with the human nervous system's regulation of blood pressure and heart rate to accommodate the activities and stress and life, which in healthy individuals occurs every ten seconds.  Some examples of this rhythm can be found in Beethoven Symphony No. 9 adagio, and many works by Guiseppe Verdi.

Researchers at the University of San Diego conducted a study in 2004 in which students were asked to complete a challenging three minute mental arithmetic task and then randomly assigned to sit in silence and listen to classical, jazz or pop music.  Participants who listened to classical music had significantly lower post-task systolic blood pressure levels (M = 2.1 mmHg above pre-stress baseline) than did participants who heard no music (M = 10.8 mmHg). Other musical styles did not produce significantly better recovery than silence.   The results of this study suggest that listening to classical music may serve to promote cardiac recovery from stress.


The health benefits of classical music may extend beyond heart health as well.  Studies have linked classical music to reduced stress, improved sleep, and even improved IQ.  With all of these unseen benefits, classical music not only warms our heart, but may bring us improved well being.

As we look to American Heart Month, and ways to enhance our heart health, please consider joining the Boulder Chamber Orchestra for a unique evening of music and community on March 4th.  A favorite of BCO, guest artist Chloe Trevor will be performing a set of beautiful duets with pianist Jonathan Tsay. 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Jeana Drayson-Steinbach
Family Nurse Practitioner
Board Member, Boulder Chamber Orchestra


Steve Jobs, Dr. Seuss, Cesar Chavez, and a modern composer experiencing them all

Steve Jobs, Dr. Seuss, Cesar Chavez, and a modern composer experiencing them all....

Mention the term “classical music”, and most people think of Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart. Byzantine symphonies penned hundreds of years ago by eccentric men in wigs. As important as it is to celebrate origins, it is equally important to recognize each new generation of composers, and their contribution of building on classical music. Currently, a new generation of musicians are emerging who are dramatically altering the landscape of classical music by infusing it with cutting edge science and technology. Leading this revolution is a vibrant composer named David A Jaffe. 


In 1982, Jaffe released a symphony of imaginary plucked stringed instruments played by an electronic orchestra titled: "Silicon Valley Breakdown". This seminal piece of work attracted international attention, including tech visionary Steve Jobs.  When Jobs was fired from Apple a few years later, he quickly formed a new computer company called NeXT. Jobs turned to Jaffe to create music software for his upstart computer company. Jaffe and his partner developed the NeXT Music Kit, which digitized the sounds of musical instruments. In 1997, NeXT was purchased and merged into Apple. Pieces of NeXT Music Kit may live on today in the current Apple music software, Logic Pro X.

His ideas are fresh, bold, and exciting. Jaffe draws on contemporary resources for his sounds and ideas. Known for combining classical and jazz, he infuses projects with non traditional instruments such as mandolin and klezmer. As a hobby, he is a birder. Jaffe has been inspired to synthesize bird sounds with human voices. 1991’s “Songs of California”, an acapella cantata for twelve singers is based on the words of Cesar Chavez, John Muir and others. He thrives on digital innovation, and his inspiration continues to be found in unique and unlikely places. 

Jaffe’s most recent project, “How Did It Get So Late So Soon?” is an homage to a Dr. Seuss poem of the same name, published a year before his death.  Jaffe describes this concerto for violin and chamber orchestra as “a musing on time folding back on itself.” The twenty-minute concerto is the latest in a series of works exploring non-linear perception and connection.

The North American premier of “How Did It Get So Late So Soon?” will be performed by the Boulder Chamber Orchestra on November 11th in Broomfield, CO and November 12th in Boulder, CO. Music Director Bahman Saless conducting.


Behind The Music: The Principals

Our first mini chamber of the season is coming up in just a few short days! The performance aptly named “The Principals,” includes 5 of BCO’s principal musicians Annamaria Karacson (violin), Christine Short (violin), Lauren Spaulding (viola), Joseph Howe (cello), and Kevin Sylves (bass). The concert includes George Onslow’s String Quintet “The Bullet,” and Dvorak’s string Quintet No 2.

In true BCO style we thought it would be fun to get to know a little bit more about the people behind the instrument, so we sat down with 2 of the principals for a more “intimate” look.

Kevin Sylves (bass)

Kevin, how long have you been playing? 

I have been playing bass since 6th grade, for more than 25 years. I am also a "founding member" of BCO; I was there for the first rehearsal in 2004! 

That’s pretty incredible! How awesome to watch the organization grow over the last 13 years. Tell us what drew you to play the bass?

At the end of 3rd grade, the school music teacher held an assembly to demonstrate all the instruments of the orchestra that we could pick to play the next year. She played a few simple tunes on all the instruments, something like "twinkle, twinkle little star", but cello was her main instrument and she demonstrated by playing a movement from a Bach Cello Suite. I think I appreciated the step up in repertoire choice and was won over by the low sounds of the cello. The elementary school did not have any basses, but once I learned that an even lower and bigger instrument than the cello existed at the middle school, I had to play it!

What a neat story. I’m trying to imagine a little 3rd grader with a bass, my goodness it would be bigger than they are… I guess that’s why they didn’t have them!

 So what is your favorite classical piece to play and why?

I really enjoy playing a sonata by baroque composer Henry Eccles. I have been playing this piece on and off for 20 years; it was a real thrill to get to perform it with BCO a few years ago!

And what about your favorite composer?

My favorite composer is John Adams. I really enjoy his minimalist composition style, where he takes a short theme and repeats it, gradually changing it until it evolves into something completely new. Most of the time when I listen to music I am multitasking, but when the music of Adams is playing I just can't get anything else done; it demands my complete attention. 

So tell us more about you, what is your favorite food?

I have a massive sweet tooth; I love chocolate and pastries.

Oh my goodness me too! Sweets are my downfall. So we all know you are an amazing musician and you dedicate an insane amount of time to it, but tell us about your hobbies outside of music.

I really enjoy reading, skiing, and spending time with my husband and our dog. One of my favorite hobbies is playing board games and card games with friends. I have been playing the card game Android: Netrunner in tournaments around Colorado and recently finished in third place at a regional level tournament. 

Very Colorado of you Kevin! Thank you so much for taking time to let us get to know you today!

 Lauren Spaulding (viola)

 So Lauren, how long have you been playing the viola?

Since 9th grade of high school -- I was shoved into the back of the Viola section!!!

Why did you choose the viola?

I wasn't cool enough for the cello and the violin didn't have a warm enough sound.  I thought that the Viola was a good compromise :)

Oh my goodness I love your answer… tell me about your favorite classical piece.

My favorite classical work to play is Vaughan William's Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Talis. I love the sound density that the two orchestras create, but more so, the quartet and solo parts are probably some of the most beautiful writing out there!!

And what about your favorite composer….

I don't really have one as the experience seems to depend more on my mood or who I am playing with.

That makes sense. What about a non-classical piece?

I like playing along with the Muse albums for fun

 I feel like we are already getting a pretty awesome look into Lauren already, but tell memore about non music stuff, What’s your favorite food?

    Definitely Coffee! #Caffeine for the win

 Coffee is certainly a food group in my book!

 And maybe a favorite movie?

No one is ever too old to love the Lion King! :)

BEST EVER! Disney really outdid themselves with that classic. Just one last question, what do you do outside of music?

When there is time, I love exploring the outdoors! Hiking, camping, biking, Pokemon Go...

Thanks Lauren!

Come and meet these awesome musicians and the other principals this weekend!

From left: Joseph Howe, Lauren Spaulding, Kevin Sylves, Christine Shirt, and Annamaria Karacson.

From left: Joseph Howe, Lauren Spaulding, Kevin Sylves, Christine Shirt, and Annamaria Karacson.

Beethoven's Tenth

"Brahms has sprung, like Minerva, fully-armed from the head of the son of Cronus." - Robert Schumann

Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg in 1833, only 6 years after Beethoven’s death. Beethoven’s influence can still be felt today but in Germany following his death, Beethoven’s presence was still deafening.

Both Brahms and Beethoven started their musical careers early as young boys. Unlike Beethoven who was billed as child prodigy and forced to play for aristocrats and noblemen by age 7, 10-year-old Brahms found himself playing in taverns and houses of ill repute to earn money for his family.

Despite his young age and unsavory work environment, it’s said that young Brahms was composing new pieces by age 11. Sadly, few pieces remain as Brahms was notoriously hard on himself. It is believed that he destroyed destroyed much of what he wrote, deeming it unworthy.

This penchant for self-criticism was probably exacerbated by the fact that Brahms had the title of Beethoven’s successor bestowed upon him by one of the most famous composers and influential musical critics at the time.

At age 20, Brahms was introduced to Robert Schumann who was immediately amazed by Brahms talent. Schumann and his wife Clara were some of the most respected figures in the musical community and they took Brahms in. Schumann introduced Brahms to world and hailed him as the second coming of Beethoven. Brahms venerated Beethoven, like most of the composers of the time, and many of Brahms works could be called imitations of Beethoven’s pieces. But being called his successor was big pair of shoes to fill.

Soon after meeting the Schumann’s Brahms began working on his first symphony. He wouldn’t finish it for 21 years! Starts and stops. Changes in direction. Nothing was ever good enough. Brahms was 43 by the time he finished the piece.

Brahm’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor premiered on 4 November 1876. The similarities with Beethoven’s Ninth were so apparent that the piece was almost immediately dubbed “Beethoven’s Tenth.” Whether this was a commentary on Brahm’s conscious homage or a claim of plagiarism is open for interpretation. To one such comment on how similar his first symphony was to Beethoven’s ninth, Brahms replied “any ass can see that.”

From growing up a musician in the musical world Beethoven created, to the pressure of deemed the next great composer, to the accusation of plagiarism, Beethoven and his Ninth were the constant elephants in the room for Brahm.

That’s why we’ve called September 23 & 24 program featuring Brahm’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, “The Elephant in the Room.” It’s fitting that a season that ends with the “Ninth” begins with the “Tenth. ” Plagiarism? Homage? Decide for yourself.

A Message from the Board: Our Season Begins

It is finally here!  The Boulder Chamber Orchestra kicks off the 2016 – 2017 season!  This is our 13th year and it is appropriately called “Jinx”.

I am Chuck Graham, one of the BCO Board Members and I have been on the board since 2011.  I have loved every minute of those years and I hope to stay and contribute many more.

For a different perspective on each of the concerts this year, a different BCO Board Member will introduce each of the concerts on this season.  I am the lucky one that gets to introduce our first performance; one I have been looking forward to since it was planned.

Bahman created a great lineup for this season, and “The Elephant in the Room” is a snapshot of what awaits all of us this year.  This performance will feature two very different and exciting violin concertos and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C Minor.

For my introduction to the first concert I want to share with you what I am excited for with this concert.  Brahms is a master, and his first symphony reflects the genius he was; however, as a former violin student I am eager to see Yabing Tan perform Wieniawski’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra.

I was taken aback the first time I heard Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo.  I listened to it several times that day and I quickly purchased a recording of it; I listened to it constantly for weeks.  I don’t listen to it as frequently as I did back then, but when I do listen to it is still as magical as the first time I heard it.  When it plays I feel light.  My worries are lifted, and my body and feet want to move.  It always touches a place inside me and makes me happy.  As much as I enjoy it I have never been fortunate enough to see it performed live.  I am very excited to hear this favorite piece of mine performed by Yabing Tan.

Wieniawski’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 strikes me very differently.  To me, it is much more somber than the light, happy Saint-Saëns.  This Wieniawski impacts my intellect much more than my emotions.  This piece technically challenging for a violinist.  The notes crosses back and forth over the bridge, and up and down the fingerboard rapidly and frequently.  It is amazing to listen to.  You can hear the genius of Wieniawski and the mastery of the violinist and it fills me with a sense of awe.  As with Saint-Saëns’ piece, I have not seen this performed live.  I am especially interested to see how Yabing Tan interprets this violin masterpiece.

Two master’s violin concertos, each appealing to a different aspect of the person.  And then Brahms great Symphony No. 1.  I can’t think of a better way to kick off the season.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this blog.  I hope to see all of you at the performance!

-Chuck Graham