Christ Church: An Evening of Chamber Music, 2/10

Christ Church: An Evening of Chamber Music, 2/10

The term “chamber music” conjures a small group of people – more than one, but fewer than 15 – performing centuries-old masterworks in an intimate space without a conductor.

For aficionados, the genre is the height of cultural aspiration: emotional, intellectual, and political dramas played out in sound. For everyone else, however, “art music” is quaint or worse, dull. At least part of the problem is the name: when many people hear the word “classical,” many think “Dead White Men” and “not relevant.”


If you are in the “everyone else” camp violinist Sydney Denman is determined to make you a true believer. If you are already a convert, you will definitely want to attend the concert she has, well, orchestrated.

The chamber music concert takes place Friday, February 10,7 p.m., at Telluride’s Christ Church, 434 W, Columbia Avenue. The program features concert violinist Odin Rathnam and members of the Fort Lewis College faculty, Katherine Jetter on cello; Lisa Campi Walters on piano. They are performing works by Beethoven, Piazzolla, Gliere, Kreisler, and Massenet. Also introducing The Telluride Camerata, featuring favorite classical musicians from the Telluride community, including young people, playing selections from the Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.1. ($15 suggested donation at the door.)

Odin & Katherine

Violin soloist Odin Rathnam with cellist Katherine Jetter

It is fair to say this concert was a long time percolating. Its origins date back to the summer of 1984 at the Meadowmount School of Music, the prestigious camp for young string players.

“It was my first year there of six and Odin’s last of 11. At Meadowmount, we both studied with Sally Thomas, the preeminent Juilliard professor of violin. Odin was such a outstanding violinist and magnanimous personality, I still remembered him 30+ years later when he came to Durango to perform with the San Juan Symphony, of which I have been a member of the violin section for 20 years,” explained Denman.

Rathnam is a much-loved soloist with the San Juan Symphony, appearing twice with them over the last few years.

“Odin’s resume is superlative, including solo recitals in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. It is his personal warmth, though, his intense passion for the music he plays that make him so appealing. His audience is always made to feel they have  heard something exceptional – and made a new friend,” continued Denman.

Rathnam is also the Skype violin teacher of Denmans’ two gifted daughters, Camille and Juliet.

Odin with the Denmas girls, his gifted students Camille & Juliet

Rathnam with the Denmas girls, his gifted students Camille & Juliet

“It will be great to have Odin here to teach the kids in person and the concert itself should be wonderful,” added Denman. “We are also excited about the new local orchestra, which is performing a short piece on the program. It has been more than a decade I think since we have had anything like the Telluride Camerata in town. I got the idea to revive a town orchestra last Spring at the Mountain School, which happens to have four very advanced young violinists – Rosalee Walsh, Kelly Stellmacher, and my daughters Camille and Juliet Denman – in its student body. The Spanish teacher, Ross Perrot, is also cellist. At the first rehearsal, the gifted young players showed so much musical maturity and capacity we were easily able to begin to practice a repertoire usually reserved for adult musicians. And within a few months, the Mountain School Orchestra had advanced enough to become the nexus around which our talented community musicians could reassemble.”

Telluride Mountain School orchestra

Telluride Mountain School orchestra

Among the local adults performing the Bach Orchestral Suite No. 1, are Scott Kirk on bassoon; Dalen Stevens on recorder; Mark Walters of the Fort Lewis faculty and San Juan Symphony on clarinet; plus Denman and fellow string musicians Danny DeSantis, violist; Valerie Franzese, cellist;  and David Homer, bassist, Telluride locals who also regularly perform with the San Juan Symphony.

A recent rehearsal

A recent rehearsal

“I believe the concert should prove to be a fantastic experience for everyone involved – the youth are honored for the rare chance to work one-on-one with professional musicians; the adults are enjoying serious music and collaboration while passing on their expertise to the eager next generation of players. I have been quite impressed with the quality and depth of this collaboration at rehearsals, including a recent very lively discussion concerning the various persuasions of Bach interpretation. Telluride truly has it all,” concluded Denman.




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