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