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Musical Mountains

Summer is a musically magical time in Steamboat Springs. Strings Music Festival offers an incredible array of musical programs, including classical, jazz, blues, and family-friendly music, in a beautiful new performance hall inspired by the lines of a string instrument.

If chamber music is your choice, don't miss the Wednesday and Saturday evening concerts. The choices are diverse: An evening might start with a gentle Chopin nocturne and move to a Schumann piano quartet, then finish off with Brahms. Instead of extensive program notes, nuggets of information about the music and/or composer are presented before each piece by a commentator.

Should jazz, country, bluegrass, or pops be the music that thrills your soul, Friday night is the night. The 2008 season included performances by Jessie Cook, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Natalie McMaster.

Don't forget to pack your lunch for Strings' Music on the Green at the new Music Festival Park at Yampa River Botanic Park -- an inspiring location, the gardens a stirring backdrop -- for a concert each Thursday at 12:15pm in the summer. It's a lovely way to spend your lunchtime -- and many locals agree, so get there early to snag one of the free umbrellas to keep the scorching sun off your head. There's a cafe (5-9pm on Wed and Fri-Sat) that serves light fare and gourmet dinner specials.

What does all this cost, you ask? Surprisingly little for the quality and choices offered, including several free programs. Family-oriented concerts Tuesday or Thursday evenings, and youth concerts Tuesday morning, cost $10 for adults and just $1 for those 18 and under; the Wednesday Pre-Concert Talks are free, as are the Thursday Music on the Green lunchtime programs. Chamber music performances, Wednesday and Saturday evenings, cost $35 to $50; the Tuesday and Friday evening programs, which offer a variety of music, have widely varying prices, and there are several special events scattered throughout the summer and during the Christmas season (call for details). Strings also presents musical events at other times of the year, including a series of Christmas holiday concerts and a Winter Concert Series.

For additional information and a complete schedule, contact Strings Music Festival, P.O. Box 774627, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477 (tel. 970/879-5056; www.stringsinthemountains.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.