Performers aim to bridge the gap between cultures with music in Rifle |

Performers aim to bridge the gap between cultures with music in Rifle

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jennifer Carr

RIFLE, Colorado ” Jennifer Carr answered the phone singing.

The more you talk to her, the more that makes complete sense.

“I just burst into song,” she said ” no matter if she’s in the car, shower or at the piano alone. During a trip to California, the mezzo-soprano belted out “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” on a trolley at the top of her lungs.

“That’s what happens when you have a little too much wine with lunch,” she joked, sounding like a bright ball of energy.

What a nice vibe on which to end this year’s St. Mary Performance Series.

On Tuesday, Carr will join local pianist Linda Jenks for a free night of fiery Latin tunes.

“Music in the Spanish Tradition” will feature songs from Spain, Mexico and Colombia. There will be upbeat folk pieces, a few classical numbers and several songs ubiquitous in Latin culture. The show is meant to bridge the gap between the Anglo and Hispanic worlds in the area. Carr sounded pretty optimistic about this lofty aspiration.

“It’s a great thing,” she said, of music. “It can bring people together.”

And she would know. It’s been her whole world. A singer since she was a pup in Texas, she became interested in opera in high school. After getting music degrees from West Texas State University and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, she worked at the Fort Worth Opera Company. Being a young, single gal, she moved to New York, where she did all kinds of professional singing (Those were her “Sex and the City” days, she joked). Eventually, she hooked up with the Aspen Music Festival and returned to the valley every summer to sing. In 1988, she decided to stay.

For 10 years, she lived a musical existence in Redstone. Around these parts, she led high school, middle school and church choirs and taught classes, as well. She got married, had a son and eventually left to teach college in Durango. After a year, she left there, too, and moved back to Texas to instruct at Texas Christian University.

Now, she still lives in Fort Worth with her new husband (and old high school sweetheart), Matt Ohmes.

Somewhere, between all this, she studied with the famous singer Victoria De Los Angeles in Spain (in Carr’s words, “There’s nothing like being in Barcelona, let me tell ya.”). She sang in Carnegie Hall with Luciano Pavorotti (who she called “extraordinary”). Perhaps most indelible on her life, now, she met Jenks during her valley days.

The pair have now been playing together for about 20 years.

“We just click,” said Carr. “The joy of performing is finding someone you perform with and you connect with.”

And that’s Jenks for her. They’re both “crazy, fun ladies,” she said, who’ve been performing together so long, they don’t even call it that anymore. Each show includes so much spoken history, so much background and banter, they dub it an “informance.”

Whatever you want to call it, Carr could hardly contain how excited she was about Tuesday.

“I can’t imagine my life without music,” she said.

But you probably already guessed that much.

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

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