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Three bring classics to local CMC stages

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Call it magic, fireworks or that “je ne sais quoi.” Though each used her own words, the members of Opus 40 unknowingly agreed on one thing. The point of their work is something beautiful and powerful ” that they can’t quite name.

“I like the spark,” said pianist Debra Ayers. “Keep the spark and the life in music. That adds a little spontaneity to it.”

Tonight and tomorrow, Ayers joins violinist Jennifer Memoli and French hornist Alyssa Coffey as they deliver a mixture of historical and modern-day classic pieces to Garfield County.



During recent phone interviews, each woman had a collection of different thoughts, stories and ideas. Somehow, the words all fit together.

“It’s great fun for me, because it always allows me to work with all kinds of people,” Ayers said of her love for chamber music. “It’s a big world out there, and there’s a lot of music to be discovered.”



Saying she was a musician since childhood, Ayers was friendly and jokingly coy when asked for her age. Though her parents weren’t musical, she said, she knew her fate early on.

“It’s something I begged to be able to do,” she said. “I was exposed to it by friends and relatives. I knew it was something I needed to do.”

From her home in Winter Park, Fla., she recounted her years of musical experience, many of them spent in Colorado. For a decade and a half, she worked for the Aspen Music Festival before moving on to Colorado Mountain College. There, she developed the Jim Calaway Music series.

She didn’t go deep into the past, concentrating instead on her present work and just how excited she is to be bringing it to the Western Slope.

“I love it, because it allows me to come to a place and people I love, and to do what I do best: music,” she said.

It’s chamber pieces, as opposed to the orchestral variety, that really get to her. Since she started with Opus 40 a year ago, her piano sounds aren’t swallowed up by the musicians around her. No, she’s an integral part of the whole thing. To her, that feels just as it should.

“I’ll admit it,” she laughed, “I have an ego too.”

Bubbly and open, Coffey, 36, said she felt a similar sense of inclusion with the group. A freelance horn player, she grew up being one of the only women she knew playing the instrument. Though she’s been in numerous orchestras, when she was offered a chance to fill in for Opus 40’s usual hornist, John Aubrey, she just couldn’t say no.

Horn players, she explained, don’t have much “really meaty, wonderful chamber music” written for them. One of Opus 40’s planned pieces, Brahms’ “Horn Trio,” might be her favorite exception.

“It’s maybe the single most important piece of chamber music for the horn,” she said.

Having just arrived at a Denver hotel, the Boston-area resident was still chipper and excited. She described the horn as “heroic,” a “chameleon-like” instrument, with the ability to be subtle or brassy, and, hopefully, meaningful.

“It’s so not work,” she said. “It’s this other, wonderful thing, where I get to touch people’s lives. I just feel lucky I get to do that.”

Hours later, Memoli, 36, echoed Coffey’s emotion about their career choice.

“I’m amazed when it affects other people,” she said. “I’m so humbled by it.”

As she talked from Wareham, Mass., she was getting ready to travel for the Colorado tour. Though she didn’t mention it, she’s played across the globe, with artists such as Luciano Pavarotti and Tony Bennett, and countless orchestras and symphonies. To her, it seems, music is just this personal, important thing, and if it touches others, well, that’s awesome, too.

“I do it because it’s a rewarding experience,” she said. “It gives me that feeling, a feeling that can’t be described in words.”

Whatever you want to call it, it’s exactly what everyone in Opus 40 is hoping to bring west.

In Ayer’s words: “We have to do that. I think it’s important to give back and share you what know.”

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

ssieg@postindependent.com

Glenwood Springs CO Colorado


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