Ark Valley orchestra performs in Salida, Buena Vista and Leadville

Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Artistry of all sorts can be found throughout the valley, from photography to oils and canvas, but next weekend the valley welcomes the Alpine Orchestra, which will be expressing its language of art during its fall concert series titled Mostly Mozart.

Talented musicians hold a special place in this valley. They are our friends, neighbors, family and co-workers. The Alpine Orchestra is not a professional orchestra, but a team of volunteers ranging from age 14 to 85 who come from backgrounds as unique as the instruments they play. They all have one thing in common: their love of classical music and their drive to share an educational and entertaining opportunity with the public.

In 1991, the Alpine Orchestra was founded and performed its first concert. The group was incorporated as a nonprofit organization the same year. Originally, the group began with 15 musicians and now boasts more than 50 gifted members. The founders wanted to develop the orchestra for the community, nurture an appreciation and enjoyment of musical arts and provide educational opportunities for young up-and-coming musicians.

Mary Hallman, a member of the board of directors and violinist, has been a part of the group for five years and has played professionally all over the world. She describes the importance of such a group for the community.

“In our 23 years of existence, we have shared our experiences with eight conductors and over 225 musicians as they have entered and exited our ranks. The founders knew that every community of any size has found a need to establish a symphony orchestra. It provides cultural, historical and musical opportunities for our wonderful community,” said Hallman.

This season’s three-day concert series will bring to life the works of Mozart, Humperdinck and Tchaikovsky. On Friday, Nov. 10, the orchestra can be found in Leadville at Lake County High School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 11, the orchestra will perform at the Salida SteamPlant at the same time, and on Sunday, Nov. 12, they will give a 3 p.m. matinee performance in Buena Vista at Clearview Community Church.

All concerts will be approximately an hour and a half long, including intermission, and are free of charge. Seating is limited, so the orchestra encourages audience members to arrive early. Donations are encouraged to help raise money for the orchestra’s scholarship program for local youth interested in furthering their education in music.

“It has been said that the community orchestra is now a museum. To some extent that is true; we sustain and perform the greatest musical works that our Western culture has created, the classics,” Hallman said. “We establish and visit them for education, beauty, history, tradition and appreciation for the sensitivity of our common humanity. The Alpine Orchestra helps fill this gap in everyone’s lives.”

Currently, the Alpine Orchestra is under the leadership of internationally acclaimed conductor Beth Steele of Breckenridge, who recently retired from the U.S. Army and in her 25 years of service held numerous conducting posts at the local, national and international levels. There will be 35 to 40 musicians performing in this series, including five middle and high school students as a part of the orchestra’s mentoring efforts.

“This series of concerts will feature a bassoon soloist, Michele White, our very own principal bassoonist,” Hallman said. “She will perform the Mozart bassoon concerto, one of the musical monuments for that instrument.”

Like Hallman, other members of The Alpine Orchestra are dedicated to sharing their passion with others in the valley and are driven by the idea of introducing new ears to famous works.

As Hallman said, “I enjoy the orchestra because I can keep my skills and musicianship active. I have played in orchestras since the sixth grade. Besides, I can’t imagine a life without this music. The orchestra is the perfect team in all respects.”