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All-Mozart concerts filled with familiar favorites for flute

Carrie Click
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jane Kuenzel
ALL |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Carlos Elias wants to dispel a common misconception.

“If you didn’t grow up with classical music, you might think, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to like it,'” said Elias, the conductor and artistic director of Symphony in the Valley. “But just like me, I love all sorts of music. I love jazz … everything. So I always encourage people to give classical music a try. You’ll be surprised.”

Symphony in Valley, the Roaring Fork Valley region’s community orchestra, is giving music lovers two opportunities to do just that this weekend at “Mozart in the Spotlight.” The orchestra plays at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Rifle, and 4 p.m. on Sunday in Glenwood Springs.



An all-Mozart affair

For this weekend’s fare, Elias chose an all-Mozart program.



“Mozart is one of my favorite composers,” he said. “Dying at 35, it’s amazing what the guy accomplished. I wonder what he would have achieved had he lived twice as long.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Austria in 1756. A child prodigy, he wrote his first symphony at 8 years old. In his short lifetime, he produced more than 600 pieces of music.

Elias selected Mozart’s “Overture” to the opera “The Magic Flute,” “Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in G Major,” and the “Linz Symphony” for this weekend’s performances.

“Every music student in middle and high school knows these pieces,” said Jane Kuenzel, who is performing the concerto’s flute solo. “They’re quite familiar.”

Elias said this is the first time he has chosen Mozart works exclusively for a Symphony in the Valley performance.

“This program is challenging for the orchestra,” he said. “The music sounds simple, but it’s not. It requires graceful and clean technique, and the orchestra is rising to the challenge. They’re working hard. It’s making them better players.”

Spotlight on the flute

Two of the three music pieces this weekend reference the flute, which is somewhat unique for Mozart’s works, according to flutist Jane Kuenzel.

“I’ve always had the impression he didn’t like the flute,” said Kuenzel, who studied at the Juilliard School before performing with orchestras from California to South Carolina. She’s now principal flutist for the Grand Junction Symphony.

Part of the reason for Mozart’s dislike of the flute was that during the 18th Century, the instrument we know today as the flute didn’t yet exist.

“Its predecessor was what’s called a wooden transverse flute,” Kuenzel said. “It didn’t have the same key system, and it was difficult to play well and keep in tune; therefore, Mozart didn’t like it. I believe he only wrote one flute concerto.”

Although the first piece in this weekend’s concerts comes from Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute,” the music has very little solo flute playing in it, Elias added.

A true community orchestra

The full-bodied sound of Mozart played live by an all-volunteer community orchestra is somewhat of a rare phenomenon. However, since 1993, the 45-plus members of Symphony in the Valley have been providing live music concerts throughout the Roaring Fork and upper Colorado River valleys.

Musicians come from as far as Grand Junction and Avon, though most are based in the Aspen-to-Parachute corridor. Prior to performances, the orchestra rehearses for about six weeks on Wednesday evenings.

Conductor Carlos Elias drives from his home in Grand Junction to the symphony’s weekly rehearsals at Glenwood Springs High School. Besides his work with Symphony in the Valley, he is Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster and directs the strings and orchestra programs at Colorado Mesa University.

“What I most enjoy about Symphony in the Valley is the community aspect,” Elias said. “Everyone is here because they love doing it. None of them does it for the money; there is none. They do it because they love what they do.”


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