Maybe I shouldn’t admit this as a former arts and entertainment editor, but I really wasn’t into orchestral music. That was, until I encountered Breckenridge’s National Repertory Orchestra (NRO).
Now, I can hardly say enough about the group of young musicians, ages 18-28, who started in the 1960s as the Blue Jeans Symphony and have been meeting every summer in Breckenridge since 1993.
Though, “meeting” is somewhat of an understatement. These aren’t just any musicians who pack up a cello and head west (or east, as the case may be). No, these are about 90 of the finest musicians from around the world, hand-picked by conductor Carl Topilow from more than 800 players who audition for the honor to perform as the NRO.
So, it’s probably no wonder that these musicians are not only amazing, but also just a blast to watch. They exude passion, both on stage and off. They remind audiences what it is to absolutely love something so much you’re willing to spend your “summer vacation working your fingers to the bone,” learning, and then performing, an entire orchestral season in two months.
And, although they spend their summer “working,” Topilow ensures it’s fun for the musicians and audiences alike. He strives to present music that’s accessible to audiences who don’t know their Beethoven from their Bach.
The NRO pays tribute to this past February’s Olympians with its opening concert June 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center by presenting John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare.” The night includes a piece from Brahms, a harp piece by Reinhold Gliére, and Dvorák’s “Symphony No. 9 in E minor, opus 95.”
If you miss out on the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” June 14, the NRO opens its Peter and the Wolf performance with the piece at 11 a.m. The show caters to kids as well as adults, with Haydn’s “Piano Concerto in C Major,” Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and, of course, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”
For an elegant night on the town, don’t miss the NRO’s Reaching for the Gold fundraising dinner, concert and evening of dancing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts June 27.
Favorite film music, including James Bond, Harry Potter, Psycho, and Pirates of the Caribbean, takes center stage July 5 with the NRO’s Music of the Silver Screen show.
And, there’s much, much more, including straight-up classical music nights; check the NRO’s schedule for specifics.
June 17-19, the NRO offers a few free concerts, once again spreading the musicians’ love of music to the masses. From 4:30-5:30 p.m., workout at the Breckenridge Rec Center while the NRO plays chamber music in the foyer. They repeat the free concert July 15 at the same time.
June 18 and July 9, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., hit the Backstage Theater at 121 S. Ridge St. for a free chamber music event. Or check out the chamber music from 5-6 p.m. June 26, July 10, and July 17 at Breckenridge Associates Real Estate, 229 S. Main Street, where they’ll play outdoors on the front porch for folks seated on the lawn.
For a real taste of the orchestra, attend the NRO’s free concert at the Riverwalk Center at 7:30 p.m. June 18.
The NRO also celebrates Independence Day with a low-cost ($5, $10 or $15, depending upon seating) concert at 8:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center on July 4. Always a fun, patriotic concert, the show will put you in the mood for the fireworks, which will go off right after, weather permitting.
Don’t miss out
Breckenridge is truly fortunate to be the home of the NRO, a nonprofit, which prepares many of the nation’s most talented young musicians for their seats within professional orchestras and other musical careers.
Don’t miss out on the inspirational live music, beginning June 14 and ending July 30.
Check the NRO’s schedule for more information.