Inspire Duo Performs for "Eternal Color", Opening Night for Artist Melissa Carmon

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There are times in life when our dreams really do come true, and collaborating with artist Melissa Carmon to create an immersive musical and artistic experience was one of those rare moments. Melissa Carmon is an outstanding Colorado artist, and she debuted her “Stories of Saints from Antiquity” painting series at the charming Bolt Gallery in Fort Collins. The evening was an incredible success!

From Melissa:
”What can I say, Christen is an absolute dream to work with! She is not only an incredible musician, the whole process of coordinating the event was done with the utmost professionalism and polish. I had absolute assurance that everything would be ready on time, that every detail of the performance would be looked after, and that she knew exactly what she needed for the performance to be top quality. I am an artist, and Christen and Craig (co-founders of the Inspire Duo) performed throughout the opening evening at the gallery. Rave reviews poured in throughout the evening. To have live flute lent a unique beauty to the night and paired beautifully with piano. Their creativity combined with their expertise is truly impressive. The audience was captivated. Working with them is truly a pleasure!”

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Craig and I of Inspire Duo performed our unique in-the-moment musical improvisations for each one of Melissa’s 12 saint paintings. We rehearsed for the show in advance to get a feel for the general musical style and mood that we wanted for each painting, but our performance at the show was completely improvised.

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One by one, the paintings were projected on a screen behind the stage, and Melissa introduced each one along with the saint’s historical background and a snippet of poetry. Then we briefly explained how we planned to interpret the elements of the painting musically. The room was packed the entire evening, and the guests were able to enjoy the paintings, our music, and refreshments.

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Visitors had the opportunity to mingle around the room and socialize, or sit and watch our performance in the seating area at the front. We had both engaged listeners and people enjoying the music in the background as they socialized. The paintings themselves were inspired by live models, many of whom were able to attend that evening.

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If you’re an artist and interested in collaborating with Inspire Duo, contact Christen Stephens:

704-275-1855
music@christenstephens.com

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An Evening of Art and Jazz!

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You’re Invited!

…....To an evening of color, history, music and poetry!

Mark your calendar for Friday, February 1st for a very special event featuring our very own Inspire Duo and opening night for a new series of paintings by award-winning artist, Melissa Carmon.

Melissa Carmon will be presenting her newly completed “Eternal Color - Stories of Saints from Antiquity” at the Bolt Gallery in downtown Fort Collins. Each one of Melissa’s twelve paintings will be presented along with a poem and historical background about each saint. Craig and I, of Inspire Duo, will be performing our musical interpretation of each piece!

You don’t want to miss this!

Friday, February 1st 2019
6:00pm - 9:00pm

Bolt Gallery
144 S. Mason St.
Fort Collins, CO'

RSVP: Email me at music@christenstephens.com and I’ll count you in!

 
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Inspire Duo: Art and Music

Experience art on a whole new level!

Award-winning professional flutist, Christen Stephens, and professional pianist, Dr. Craig Woodward, will perform original musical improvisations inspired by each piece in the saints series. Each saint will have a pre-planned mood, but beyond that, each song will be one-of-a-kind and created entirely in the moment. This is a unique opportunity to hear this Denver-based duo in Fort Collins!   Listen to the Inspire Duo»


 
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Eternal Color: Stories of Saints from Antiquity

This series explores a diversity of temperaments through the medium of portraiture.  One of the inspirations behind the series is the question of what really endures. Each figure's story differs vastly, but each influenced the development of western history.    Preview the Saints Series»

Inspire Duo Will be Performing at Twenty Brew Taphouse!

 
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Craig and I at Inspire Duo are looking forward to expressing our musical creativity on May 20th at the Artists Being Artists event. We'll be improvising on the artwork being shown, and we'll also take suggestions from you, our friends! Artists Being Artists is a monthly showcase of local visual artists, musicians, poets, and more. The showcase happens every 3rd Sunday of the month at Twenty Brew Taphouse (in the back room). Come by and meet new folks, have some beer, and enjoy our exciting music!

Flute and Harp Duo Cocktail Hour Music at the Wellshire Event Center in Denver

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This fall, my flute and harp duo was hired to play for an elegant fall dinner for the Swiss American Friendship Society. Cocktails and dinner took place at the charming Wellshire Event Center in Denver, Colorado. The Wellshire Event Center is situated on a golf course and has a quaint German feel that isn't too common in Denver.

My flute and harp delighted the guests with a mix of elegant classical, jazz, and ballads as the guests enjoyed cocktails. The room was charmingly decorated with fall decor and candles. Many of the guests were excited to have the opportunity to hear a concert harp so close up, and the beautiful instrument added the the elegance of the room. The music of my flute soared over the harp as I played well-loved melodies.

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An Enchanted Evening

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I'm looking forward to playing cello and flute at this Boulder Symphony event. We're playing a really great mix of classic rock, holiday, jazz music and more!

An Enchanted Evening

FRIDAY DECEMBER 8, 2017 – 5:30 - 8:30 PM

at The Highland City Club

Please join Boulder Symphony and Highland City Club for an evening filled with enchantment and magic.

Enjoy a mouthwatering buffet dinner of global flavors and the magical stylings of a Boulder Symphony chamber ensemble while mingling in the traditional setting of the historic Highland Building.

VIP tickets are available at $65, which include a gourmet buffet dinner, and 1 concert ticket to any Boulder Symphony concert this season (a $20 value).

Purchase a ticket before November 15th and get TWO Concert Tickets (a $40 value)!

Purchase VIP tickets below. A portion of all proceeds go to Boulder Symphony.

Purchase Tickets

Event Location:

HIGHLAND CITY CLUB 885 ARAPAHOE AVENUE BOULDER, CO 80302

Flute and Piano Duo at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

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Recently, my flute and piano duo played for an elegant corporate event at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Our client let us choose a mix of classical, contemporary and jazz tunes, leaving the specific music selections up to us. I enjoyed selecting tunes that would be a great fit for the event. We began by entertaining the guests with our music as they enjoyed cocktails up on the sky terrace. The hot day had cooled down to a sparkling evening and everyone enjoyed the sweeping views of City Park and downtown Denver that the terrace afforded. After cocktails, we moved inside and continued to play a mix of music for a couple more hours during the elegant candlelit dinner reception.

From the Client: This is the second time I've used Christen for a corporate event. She is a superb musician, and both times I've used her the guests commented on how wonderful the music was. I would recommend Christen without reservation. She's very prompt to respond, is very warm and friendly and professional and her music is absolutely wonderful.

Samples from our Set List: Ashokan Farewell, How High the Moon, Reign of Love (Coldplay), Clair De Lune (Debussy), Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, My Funny Valentine, Irlandaise (Bolling), Sunshine on my Shoulders, Just the Way You Are

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Solo Flute Event Music in Denver, Colorado

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This past weekend, I had a wonderful afternoon playing solo flute music for the Mother's Day Tea at Brookdale Senior Living Center near Denver, Colorado. I put together a fun set of music from classical to contemporary and jazz tunes. It was lovely to meet some of the residents and their families and I think that they enjoyed listening just as much as I enjoyed playing for them. As I played, the guests enjoyed dainty treats and hot tea on that beautiful sunny afternoon. Do you want more information about my elegant solo flute music for your wedding ceremony or next event? Tell me what songs and musical styles you like and I'll put together a custom music set list just for you!

Sample Music Selections from the Mother's Day Tea: Pastorale (Vivaldi), Menuet from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach (Bach), Give Me Your Hand (traditional Irish), Sunshine on my Shoulders (John Denver), As Time Goes By from Cassablanca, Love Me Tender (Elvis), What a Wonderful World, Moon River

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Welcome to Inspire Duo "Life Inspired Improv."

Inspire Duo is a new duo featuring the music of myself on flute and Craig Woodward on piano. We create purely improvisational music inspired by people, art and life. It was my dream to do free improvisation with other musicians for a very long time, but the opportunity hadn't presented itself until just recently. Several months ago, I was invited to a farewell moving away party for an acquaintance of mine. When I arrived, I found that I didn't know a single person in the room except for the honoree of the party, and she was deep in conversation. I walked up to the first person that I saw and introduced myself. We quickly found out that we are both musicians who love to improvise, and we were both looking for someone to improvise with. That was the unlikely beginning of Inspire Duo.

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When Craig and I met for our first rehearsal, we knew that this duo was something special. We instantly clicked musically and magic began to happen. Craig and I both have extensive experience with a wide range of music from classical to jazz and numerous other styles. We found that we could create a unique blend of these styles and add our own flair to make beautiful and wildly creative music.

We began rehearsing regularly and developed a vision for collaborating with local artists in order to introduce a whole new sensory dimension to their works, both through live performances and audio recordings. Each song that we improvise starts with an inspiration - an series of descriptive words, a piece of art, another musical composition, a photo, or anything really. Beyond choosing our inspiration, we don't plan much what we will play in advance. One of us creates an initial musical idea which then takes shape as we continue to play. The music then spins from there as we communicate back and forth, building upon each musical idea and creating new ones. The great beauty of this kind of music is that we aren't stuck to written notes on a page, or even a set of chords such as on a jazz chart. We are free to develop ideas as we play and interact directly with the environment around us using music.

Stay posted for updates on our live concerts. We need your inspiration! We also accept bookings to play for social events. Email me for information on hiring us for your next party or event by clicking on "Inspire Duo" HERE.

Listen to Music Samples Here

Flute Quartet Christmas Music at the Boulder History Museum

Our Boulder Symphony flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello) recently played for a Santa Photo Shoot at the Boulder History Museum. The day dawned in winter chill but indoors the museum was cozy and beautifully decorated for the holidays. Guests enjoyed drinks, cookies and other refreshments as they enjoyed our musical performance. It was a charming and traditional way to ring in the holiday season and everyone left feeling a little more festive. Jolly Old Saint Nicholas Live at the Boulder History Museum Wassail Song Live at the Boulder History Museum

Flute and Harp Renaissance Music in Denver, Colorado

Flute and Harp duo Renaissance music
Flute and Harp duo Renaissance music

Recently, our flute and harp duo played for a Camelot party at Brookdale, Greenwood Village, a senior living center near Denver, Colorado. Our duo played a mix of traditional Renaissance music and music from "Camelot" the musical. We played as the guests enjoyed their food and socialized.

Selected Songs: The Simple Joys of Maidenhood from Camelot, A Scots Tune, Follow me up to Carlow, I Loved You Once in Silence from Camelot, The Ash Grove, Alamande IV, Camelot from Camelot, The Minstrel Boy, We be Soldiers Three, How to Handle a Woman from Camelot, Now is the Month of Maying

Flute and Guitar Duo Birthday Party Music at Beaver Creek, Colorado

Colorado Event and Party Music by Christen Stephens

Colorado Event and Party Music by Christen Stephens

Our flute and guitar duo had a cool and rainy drive up from Denver to Beaver Creek, Colorado on our way to play for an August birthday celebration. By the time that we arrived at the elegant private residence, the rain had stopped and the sun came out and it felt wonderful and warm. It was the perfect evening for guests to mingle outdoors during the cocktail hour. Everyone enjoyed the magnificent sunset accompanied by our music - an fun mix of classical, contemporary, and jazz tunes. After the cocktail hour, everyone moved indoors for dinner and toasts. During dinner, we played a selection of classical and soft contemporary music, and after toasts, we jazzed it up with upbeat jazz and contemporary music.

Sample Cocktail Hour Music:
Pastorale (Vivaldi), Moderato from Sonata in G (Beethoven), Everything I Do (I Do it For You), Long ago (And Far Away (Gershwin), Tango (Albeniz), Largo from Xerxes, The Ludlows from Legends of the Fall, My Way (Sinatra), Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific

Sample Dinner and After Dinner Music:
Afternoon in Paris (John Lewis), Annie's Song (John Denver), Cheek to Cheek (Sinatra), How High the Moon (Ella Fitzgerald), Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (The Platters), What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder), Take the "A" Train (Duke Ellington), Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Duke Ellington), Fly Me to the Moon (Sinatra)

Solo Flute Wedding Ceremony Music and Dinner Music in Denver

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This hot day began with a beautiful cool morning, perfect for an intimate wedding ceremony at the War Memorial Rose Garden in Littleton, Colorado. This picturesque gem is located near downtown Littleton and across the street from beautiful Sterne Park. The roses were just beginning to reach peak bloom and their scent filled the air with a sweet, nostalgic perfume. As a former music major, the groom had many ideas for his music selections and I incorporated them into the prelude, postlude, and dinner music. As guests began to arrive, I played a prelude of classical and traditional Irish music on solo flute. The wedding ceremony was very simple with only immediate family and friends attending. After the wedding ceremony, I played for fifteen more minutes as the wedding party and family were photographed.

Selected Wedding Prelude Music:
Aylesford Gavotte (Handel), Pastorale (Vivaldi), Star of the County Down (traditional Irish), Banish Misfortune (traditional Irish), Shebeg and Sheemore (traditional Irish), Berceuse (Faure), The Butterfly (traditional Irish), Largo from the New World Symphony, Theme from Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov), Waltz (Brahms)

Dinner was held at Maggiano's which is the couple's favorite restaurant. I began by playing some classical and Irish tunes and then switched to show, jazz, movie, and popular music. The groom made a special request that my last song be "Feeling Good", and I really enjoyed learning that wonderful classic song. The guests enjoyed drinks and appetizers while I played and when I finished, dinner was served. I was invited to join everyone for dinner and particularly enjoyed the pork and mashed potatoes and one of the best cheesecakes I've ever had.

Wedding Ceremony Music:
Wedding Party and Bride ~ Chorale from Cantata No. 140 (JS Bach) Recessional ~ Prelude from Te Deum (Marc-Antoine Charpentier)

Selected Dinner Music:
Salut D' Amour (Elgar), Vocalise (Rachmaninoff), Irish Traditional music, Entr'acte from Carmen (Bizet), The Ludlows from Legends of the Fall, What a Wonderful World, Isn't it Romantic?, Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific, (Everything I Do), I Do it For You from Robin Hood, The Way You Look Tonight, As Time Goes By from Casablanca, Cheek to Cheek, Feeling Good from The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd

Wedding Vendors:
Wedding Venue: War Memorial Rose Garden in Littleton
Dinner Venue: Maggiano's in Englewood
Wedding Ceremony and Reception Musician: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Solo Flute

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Announcing New Flute Quartet Wedding Ceremony Music Samples

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Our flute quartet recently recorded a number of new music samples. You can listen to the the music samples online here: Flute Quartet Music Samples. Our flute quartet consists of a flute, violin, viola, and cello and the tone of the flute wonderfully compliments the sound of the strings to create a full and rich sound. I am very excited about these recordings because after a lot of time and work, I have now completed making recordings of all ten of my music ensembles! Photo courtesy of Kern Photo

Solo Flute Memorial Reception Music in Cherry Hills Village

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This past week I had the pleasure of playing solo flute for a memorial reception in Cherry Hills Village. The service was held at a beautiful private residence, and the high ceilings and openness of the house had wonderful acoustics for my flute. I played a mix of classical, jazz, and popular music and was also asked to add in a number of traditional Hawaiian tunes to honor the deceased's love of all things Hawaiian. I played about 60 different songs over the course of about three hours and it was wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

Some of the pieces I played included Romanza from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart), Waltz Op. 69 #2 (Chopin), Adagio from the Flute Quartet in D Major (Mozart), One the Wings of Song (Mendelssohn), Moon River, As Time Goes By, Fly Me to the Moon, (Everything I Do) I Do it For You, Misty, and What a Wonderful World. The Hawaiian selections included Dear Old Honolulu, Aloha 'Oe (Farewell to Thee), My Waikiki Mermaid, Halona (Beautiful Mountain), and Kawaihau (Hawaiian Rag-time).

Flute and Cello Duo - Live Music for American Cancer Society Fundraiser

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Recently, our flute and cello duo provided live music for an American Cancer Society Fundraiser at the Galleria of Stone in Denver. We played for two hours at this elegant event which featured a large selection of wine, delicious appetizers, and a silent auction. Guests were greeted by the beautiful harp music of Star Edwards on their way in, and then enjoyed our flute and cello duo during the reception. We began by playing classical music for the first hour and then we transitioned to popular and jazz music during the second hour. The guests particularly enjoyed a couple of the Beatles songs that we played and told us they had never heard the Beatles played by the flute and cello before.

Selected Reception Music:
Anglaise (JCF Bach), Gigue from Suite #3 in D Major (Bach), Allegro from Sonata in F Major for Flute (Handel), Fugue from Fugue in B minor (Handel), Prelude Op. 28 #7 for piano (Chopin), Sonatina Op.36 #1 for piano (Clementi), To a Wild Rose (MacDowell), Minuetto Scherzando from Toccata #4 (Scarlatti), Roses From the South (Johann Strauss Jr.), All of Me (Jazz Cover), Blackbird (Beatles), Blue Spanish Eyes, Imagine (Beatles), I Want to Hold Your Hand (Beatles), Misty (Jazz Cover), Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's, What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), When I'm Sixty-Four (Beatles), Imagine (Beatles

Speranza - An American Cancer Society Benefit

On Saturday, September 13, 2014 our flute and cello duo will be playing at the Galleria of Stone for this American Cancer Society Benefit. Tickets are still available so purchase yours today and enjoy some good food, wine, and music while supporting a good cause!

Flute and Piano Reception Music at the 10th Restaurant in Vail

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This past Saturday was truly a remarkable experience and I was privileged to be invited to play my flute for the memorial service and reception honoring Jim Vincent. The weather was perfect for the service, which took place in Vail Memorial Park in an idyllic mountain setting. We were surrounded by mountains, tall pines, and large boulders with a bubbling river winding through the woods nearby. When I arrived at the memorial site, I had the pleasure of once again seeing Pastor Tim Wilbanks, who later did a wonderful job presiding over the ceremony. I played classical music on solo flute for the prelude and after Pastor Wilbanks gave a welcome speech, I honored Jim Vincent by playing one of his favorite songs, "I Just Called to Say I Love You" (Stevie Wonder). At the end of the service, I played "My Way", a song that Jim Vincent personally requested be played at his memorial service. I really enjoyed the service as various family members and friends stood up and told both humorous and nostalgic stories about Jim Vincent. By the end of the service I really felt like I personally knew Jim.

Afterwards, we all left for the 10th Restaurant in Vail. I drove to Vail Village and took the gondola up to the restaurant. This was my first time up a gondola, and I really enjoyed the ride and the view of Vail Village and the surrounding mountains. When we arrived at the restaurant, Adam Revell was already entertaining the guests with some light jazz on his keyboard. I joined him on my flute and we played a number of popular and jazz selections for the elegant three-hour reception. I was given great freedom with the music selections and I aimed to create a nostalgic and sometimes upbeat mood. The guests really enjoyed the music and I even spied a few of them dancing as they walked by.

Selected Reception Music:
Cheek to Cheek (Sinatra), Georgia on My Mind (Ray Charles), Blackbird (Beatles), Unchained Melody (Alex North), Annie's Song (John Denver), Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Jerome Kern), Let it Be (Beatles), Autumn Leaves, I Will Remember You (Sarah McLachlan), Longer Than (Dan Fogleberg), Everything I Do (I do it for You) from Robin Hood, Fly me to the Moon, Annie's Song (John Denver)

Views from the gondola ride:

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Vail Village:

How to Find Local Wedding Ceremony and Event Musicians

If you are looking for live wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, or event music along the Colorado Front Range, you've already come to the right place. Congratulations! Visit my wedding ceremony music page or my event music page to learn more about our versatile ensemble selections.

How to Find Local Wedding Ceremony and Event Musicians
How to Find Local Wedding Ceremony and Event Musicians

If you are visiting from a different part of the country or world and are looking for live musicians in your area, I have some tips just for you.

Online Search Engines: When using an online search engine, use terms specific to what you are looking for, such as a particular instrument (flute, cello, piano etc.) or a type of group and/or music genre (jazz combo, classical quartet, bluegrass band etc.). Keep your search flexible because you never know when you may stumble upon a unique and talented group that you love but never thought of before. If you are searching for classical musicians, even if it's not for a wedding, I recommend searching for wedding ceremony musicians, because this is how most classical musicians market their websites.

Most likely, major wedding and event planning websites will appear at the top of your search list. Below those you will hopefully see results for music booking agencies and sites run by individual musicians who play solo or perhaps have formed ensembles with other musicians in the area. If you choose to hire a musician through a major booking agency, you will have many options to chose from and you may be able to get a deal if you want to hire both live musicians and a DJ from the same company. Most booking agencies also provide professional customer service and have lots of resources and equipment. If you hire an individual musician who has formed their own group, you will get personal service directly from the musician you are hiring without having to pay extra for company booking fees. When hiring an individual musician, you will be able choose a particular artist whose work you love and fits what you are looking for.

Wedding and Event Planning Websites: Today's most popular wedding and event planning websites often have a large selection of musicians for hire and are worthy of a separate mention. One of my favorite websites is Thumbtack.com which allows you to submit a request with your event specifics and receive quotes from local professionals within 24 hours. Another good site is Gigmasters.com. Through Gigmasters, you can also get price quotes from local professionals, and book online using their secure payment service and a 100% money back guarantee. Three other well-known sites are the The Knot.com, WeddingWire.com, and GigSalad.com which are like online bridal and event planning magazines.

All of these websites are paid advertising, and the musicians who appear higher in the listings are often those who paid more for that privilege. Because these musicians paid to advertise, you can be assured that most of them are actively playing and seeking bookings.

How to Find Local Wedding Ceremony and Event Musicians
How to Find Local Wedding Ceremony and Event Musicians

Venue Recommendations: Most wedding and event venues have a list of recommended vendors either available online or upon request. Each venue has their own set of criteria for what vendors they recommend. Some venues charge vendors to be added to their list for a yearly fee, some include musicians whom they can personally recommend from experience, and some may have their own list of criteria that their musicians have to meet. It’s important to know what criteria your venue uses for putting together their recommended vendor list and that they can personally vouch for the vendors they recommend. Venues also frequently collect and display brochures and advertising from a variety of musicians for your convenience.

Word of Mouth: If you are booking musicians, you are probably also booking other vendors such as a caterer, photographer, florist and event planner. Often these vendors have seen and heard some of the local musicians and can make recommendations for you. It can also be beneficial to contact local universities or local orchestras. If you go this route, you are more likely to get a better price but less likely to get an established working group, which has potential pitfalls.

Bridal Publications and Shows: Bridal publications and wedding shows deserve a worthy mention. Most of the musicians who can afford to advertise in magazines have a high budget, and the size and quality of their ads generally reflects on the size of the company and/or the amount they charge per event. Wedding showcases are also a good way to hear musicians play live, but most venues can only support one or two groups playing at a time, so your selection is limited.

Ultimately, in our internet society, the easiest way to find local wedding or event musicians is on the internet. However, personal recommendations and word of mouth will always be an important way to find vendors who are excellent in their craft.

Visit my contact page to book your Colorado Front Range wedding ceremony or event music today!

Now Offering a String Quartet and a String Trio

string quartet and string trio wedding ceremony music
string quartet and string trio wedding ceremony music

It's time to go traditional, and I am pleased to announce that you can now hire a string quartet or a string trio right here through my website. String music will add a touch of elegance and class to your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, or your special event. The formal sound and appearance of stringed instruments make them a very popular choice for brides. If you would like to hire a quartet or a trio but want a more unique and varied sound, you can replace the first violin with the flute. The flute has a smooth sound that contrasts beautifully with that of stringed instruments.

The Price of Relevance

What is the value of live music? I think this article by Suzanne Mentzer published in the Huffington Post is right on track: To all who moan about the price of musicians: A guy calls the musician's guild to get a quote on a six-piece band for a wedding. The rep says, "Off the top of my head, about $2000." The guy says, "WHAT? FOR MUSIC?" The rep responds, "I'll tell you what. Call the plumbers union and ask for six plumbers to work from 6 'til midnight on a Saturday night. Whatever they charge you, we'll work for half."

I saw this on a social media site and it struck a chord, no pun intended. I could not help but think of the situation at hand for many classical musicians in the US.

Roughly talking turkey, there are about 115 orchestras in the US with budgets over 2.5 million, each employing nearly 100 musicians, each with another 5-10 staff members, on average. This does not include ballet orchestras, or orchestras with lower budgets. Opera America, a national service center, lists 150 member companies. The "union" American Guild of Musical Artists lists 6540 members in good standing, comprised of dancers, opera singers (soloists and choristers) and stage managers. Each opera, ballet and orchestral organization also employs stage crew, many of which are members of IATSI, the stagehands union. This is, at best, a blurry picture of the multitude of people who could be unemployed should the classical arts cave. This does not even include the associated businesses: restaurants, hotels, parking garages for the paying public, instrument and equipment manufacturers, instrument tweakers and tuners..

Every day I read of another orchestra going under or, at the very least, cutting salaries of the players by large amounts. What flotsam and jetsam this will create. These players spend lives - from a very young age - perfecting, practicing and competing to win the positions they have. They cannot imagine life not playing. Musicians have committed to rents, mortgages, college debt, and support families. Some share their talents with schools and communities. They commit to the arts organization and the community for the long haul, unlike in sports where one can be traded or a free agent.

Orchestra, opera, chamber music and solo recitals are pure, without sound enhancement. I like to think of these art forms as being organic- without additives, non-synthetic or processed. Like organic food, it is a bit more costly to produce. It is also not for profit, unlike commercial music.

Like most musicians, classical musicians, bring joy to those who hear them. They touch an emotional nerve; connect with the larger whole of humanity and cultural history; honor those who came before by continuing a tradition of excellence. It is hard to put a price on relevance, continuity, and the historical perspective. Yes, in today's financial environment classical artists are being discarded.

With a very high-level international singing career I, too, have felt the smack of the economy. The norm for a successful singer is being booked three years out. I have little work this year and nothing after August. I have a hard time being hired. I have dropped my fee to about a third of what it was, which is fine since the business was so good to me. My high powered New York management tells me its the economy.

Like the instrumentalists in those orchestras I have lived as a singer for a long time and it is an ingrained part of who I am. Not a day went by for thirty years where I did not think about the condition of my voice and my body or have music burning into my brain cells. At times I feel like a part of me has been amputated. I do miss making music at a high level, the camaraderie and collaboration with colleagues, and most of all, my part in the continuation of this art form that goes back centuries. I have often felt it a privilege to sing music that has endured and try to do it justice.

As an ersatz writer I have a bully pulpit but I basically preach to the choir. I do not seem to reach the audience that needs persuading that classical music is viable, necessary and human. One way I can be an activist for the arts is to perform. I will continue to search for other ways, as well, for the day when I truly cannot sing anymore.

Last week, The NY Times shared the results of a study: "researchers at Northwestern University recorded the auditory brainstem responses of college students -- that is to say, their electrical brain waves -- in response to complex sounds. The group of students who reported musical training in childhood had more robust responses -- their brains were better able to pick out essential elements, like pitch, in the complex sounds when they were tested. And this was true even if the lessons had ended years ago."

I have been watching some silent films on TCM. The sound tracks are amazingly operatic in order to help sustain the emotion of the work without text. Listen to a sound track today. Even with the dialogue of the actors much of the music is classically styled and operatically emotional. Why is it so hard then to let this carry outside the movie theater?

My last beef the choice of people to be honored by Kennedy Center this year. All are honorable but not one is a classical musician. This sends a very strong subliminal message. It would have been very cool to have Led Zeppelin honored beside a figure from the classical music world.

As a culture we seem eat up whatever is fashionable, hot, new. Can't we do that and still keep a foot firmly in tradition, history, context, and more? One need not necessarily cancel out the other.