OURAY COUNTY – In putting on this year’s San Juan Chamber Musicfest, which is slated for Aug. 11-16, the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild has once again received the help of grant money from the Colorado Council on the Arts. This year, OCPAG received a $2,600 grant for the music festival, which features nationally and internationally known musicians performing in four separate concerts in Ridgway, Ouray and Montrose.
“This is a very big honor for us,” Sue Hillhouse, president of OCPAG, said in an interview on Tuesday. “Getting the grant is a highly competitive process, especially this year because funding has been reduced. We feel very fortunate to get one of only three grants that were given on the Western Slope.”
For OCPAG Vice President Kelvin Kent, the grant validates everything the organization tries to do for the rural communities in and around the San Juan Mountains.
“We are extremely pleased that the Colorado Council on the Arts has seen fit to acknowledge our efforts in this way,” Kent said. “It validates our goal of bringing the very best to our rural area. Everything we do is with volunteers and this money will help alleviate some of the costs of bringing fine musicians from the East Coast to perform for us live in our own communities.”
Hillhouse said this is the third year that OCPAG has received grant money to help cover the cost of the classical music festival. She added, to qualify for the grant, the organization must make a concerted effort to reach out to the community. With the exception of a salon performance at a private home in Ridgway on Aug. 13, OCPAG is making the performances free to all students in the region. There will also be a reduced rate available for those who are a part of Ouray County’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program.
“They will get Neighbor-to-Neighbor transportation to the performances and reduced ticket,” Hillhouse said. “Those are some of the ways we are trying to attract more of our community members this year.”
This year’s San Juan Chamber Musicfest will see the return of Max Levinson on piano and cellist Allison Eldredge. They will be joined by one of Ireland’s leading violinists, Catherine Leonard, as well as violinist Patrick Shaughnessy.
“Everyone in the quartet this year has remarkable credentials,” Hillhouse said.
The four will be playing on Tuesday, Aug. 11 in Ridgway at the 4-H Event Center at 7 p.m. They will be playing a salon performance at residence on Log Hill Mesa on Aug. 13 at 5 p.m., and then again at the Ouray School at 3 p.m. on Aug. 15. There will be a Montrose performance at the United Methodist Church on Aug. 16 at 4 p.m.
Hillhouse said the salon concert also features dinner. “It is an intimate and enjoyable event to sit and have dinner with the musicians,” she said.
For a second year straight, the Musicfest will feature a Lollipop Concert on Aug. 14 at the Ouray School for children aged preschool through fifth grade. The concert will feature music that is appropriate for children and introduces them to classical music, composers and instruments.
“We had it last year and it was a great success,” Hillhouse said.
There will also be a Master Class open for musicians looking to improve their skills. Hillhouse said the class would basically be a private lesson with one of the musicians for a half-hour. “They will get some really constructive help on their own performance,” she said. “It has been very successful in the past.”
Admission to all performances is $20, with the exception of the salon performance, which is $75-$85. Those interested in the Master Class can call Kent at 325-4598. More information on the San Juan Chamber Musicfest can be found at www.ocpag.org.