(Last Updated On: January 30, 2017)

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.

Conductor Carl Topilow (in white) jokes around with the audience as one of his guest conductors plays to the audience by putting her lipstick on before striking up the band.

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.

Summer highlights

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.”

The passion of the musicians comes through the NRO.

The passion of the musicians comes through the NRO.

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.

Free concerts

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.

Check out the NRO before time runs out.

Check out the NRO before time runs out.

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.

FIreworks right after the concert. Photo by Carl Scofield.

Fireworks right after the concert. Photo by Carl Scofield.

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.



About The Author

Kimberly Nicoletti always knew she was meant to escape gray Chicago winters and spend her days skiing the Colorado Rockies. So, two months after she turned 18, she moved to Breckenridge to be a ski bum "for a season," assuring her parent's she'd return to Illinois to finish college. But, the ski bum life stuck. After three years of full-time skiing in Summit County, she decided to finish her degree at CU-Boulder in Creative Writing (granted, she took a semester off to ski). Once free of classes, she took yet another year off to ski in Summit (do you see a pattern here?). Then, she moved back to Boulder to earn her master's degree in Somatic Psychology/Dance Therapy. Upon graduation, she spent a winter teaching skiing at Mammoth Mountain. (Surely you see the pattern now.) In 2002, she moved back to Summit full time, to work at the Summit Daily as the arts and entertainment editor. She stayed with the company for 10 years, enjoying Summit's great events and later working as the managing editor of magazines covering the High Country. She still revolves her life around adventure and creativity, taking time to travel, ski, paddleboard, dance, ice skate, play with her dogs, learn new things and generally enjoy life. She's highly addicted to powder skiing and keeps her winter mornings commitment-free so she can indulge in "deep play" when Mother Nature cooperates. Off the mountain, she's a freelance writer and editor and teaches fitness and mind/body classes throughout Summit County.

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