Symphony in the Valley returns |

Symphony in the Valley returns

Stina SiegPost Independent Staff Glenwood Springs. CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS This holiday season, Symphony in the Valley is breaking from long-held tradition as it embraces a segment of society loved by many and misunderstood by perhaps even more.Musical theater actors.For the first time in 15 years, symphony fans will be treated to a program that offers both seasonal orchestra music and a one-act opera. Amahl and the Night Visitors, by Gian Carlo Menotti, tells the story of Amahl and his mother, who are forced to confront their inner demons after giving shelter to the Three Kings, bearing gifts for baby Jesus. When asked why she decided to add a little drama to this years show, artistic director and conductor, Wendy Larson, responded with a laugh.I wake up in the middle of the night, saying hey, wouldnt that be a great idea? she said.With a bit more seriousness, she said that she wanted to pay tribute to Menotti, who recently died. She also likes stretching her all-volunteer orchestra. This will be harder for them to play, she explained, but it will also be a gentle way to introduce the community to this type of theater. She went as far as to dub the piece, which is in English and runs just 45 minutes, everymans opera.Even if it was the first one youve seen, she said, youll have fun.For Paul Dankers, vocal director, who also plays Caspar, the piece is another chance to pursue his love of musical theater. As he spoke about the work, the excitement in his voice was palpable. He went into detail about his introduction to plays in rural Minnesota. He mentioned how he founded an acting company there originally for the sole purpose of performing a musical that he just couldnt get out of his head. He recalled traveling hours to cities to see performances, and how he had the same shows soundtrack running in his cd player for months. In short, he seemed to be saying, this is serious business.When the theater bug bites, it self-sustains, he said. You just make all kinds of sacrifices. You give up the rest of your life. Its just so consuming. And you do it happily and willingly.Maureen Jackson, who plays Amahls mother, echoed his sentiment. Even at age 3, she was telling people shed grow up to be a singer. She would end up going to school for the art, and would spend a few months banging on doors in New York, as she tried to break into the theater world.Now 33, married and doing theater whenever she can, she still feels its magic.Once your foot goes on stage, youre not you anymore, she said. Youre your character.In a world where Christmas decorations seem to go up shortly after Halloween, she also sees this production as a respite from all the holiday hype. Its more of a human tale, she said, about real people, finding their path to giving.This story really gets back to the theme, what the heart of Christmas is, she said.And though this show is unique, like every year, its message will be delivered by a varied group of local musicians from all walks of life. Richard Ornton, a trumpet player from Silt, was there at the ensembles beginning. When asked, he seemed unfazed by any of this years changes. Like always, he said, the draw of the orchestra is the same. Its that indescribable energy that just clicks between artists as they create sound bigger than all of their instruments or voices.The feeling you get from being in that group, he said, its just something you dont normally encounter in life.Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111ssieg@postindependent.comPost Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

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