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Baroque meets bluegrass in RFYO fundraiser

Locations: News Published

“Bach to Bluegrass,” a fundraiser for the Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra (RFYO), will be held on Aug. 18 at the Old Thompson Barn in River Valley Ranch.

Ross Kribbs, RFYO’s co-music director, said, “Now in our 13th year as an organization, and while we’ve always solicited donations and reached out to donors, and we’ve had some generous ones along the way, this is the first time that we’ve done a fundraiser. We definitely hope it becomes a flagship event.”

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The classical portion of the concert will showcase the talents of RFYO mentors and professional musicians, including violinist Kribbs, who will be joined on cello by co-directors Sarah Graf, who serves as RFYO’s executive director, and violinist Brittini Brown. Shaunna Wilsky will join on viola. They will perform musical works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and Reinhold Glière. Advanced members of the RFYO will join in two tango selections by Argentine composer Ángel Villoldo.

Kribbs said the event’s eclectic musical lineup reflects the musical interests of many RFYO student musicians “and our ethos as an organization.” He added, “We don’t assign any hierarchy to musical matters, and we recognize that there are brilliant players and performances in all genres. It also happens to make music that much more fun.”

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Transitioning musical genres, the festivities will move to the Thompson Barn patio, where guests will be treated to toe-tapping Bluegrass tunes from The Sopris Mountain Boys (with Kribbs joining Larry Gottlieb, Don Marlin, Trevor Mountjoy and Dave Notor). At the same time, you can savor the sunset against a Mount Sopris backdrop.

RFYO works with 70+ young musicians from Rifle to Aspen and annually reaches over 1,500 community members through concerts and collaborations. They provide tuition and lesson scholarships to nearly 50% of their young musicians, who range from middle to high school aged students.

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Student musicians meet for group rehearsals and one individual lesson per week throughout the school year. Kribbs acknowledged that “Playing a stringed instrument is a challenging and super rewarding experience.”

RFYO provides music instruction and performance opportunities for those interested in playing violin, viola, cello or bass. For students choosing to learn a new instrument, RFYO’s instrument library has a couple of dozen instruments available for student use at no charge. As Kribbs explained, “Instrument rental costs can add up, and we recognize, particularly with beginning students, that we want to eliminate any barriers to getting started and developing a real love for playing.”

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Musical instruction, Kribbs explained, is based upon a theory that when learning to play a musical instrument, small achievements help build a student’s self-confidence.

“We strive to instill and support the idea that there are many victories along the way,” said Kribbs. “We break down skills into smaller parts by having the student recognize that the thing they couldn’t do last week, they can do now. It’s a way to look at things a bit more granularly.”

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RFYO is based at Carbondale’s Third Street Center, which Kribbs called “an amazing space to rehearse in, and very welcoming for our musicians.” He also shared, “We’ve felt really embraced by the community. Just this year, a group of students played the Oasis stage at Mountain Fair. Carbondale has been a great home for our program, and we appreciate that.”

An upcoming collaboration of note will be in November, during Carbondale’s Día de los Muertos celebration, when a group of student musicians will perform alongside Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s (AFSB) Folklórico dancers. The idea came a couple of years ago when Francisco “Paco” Nevarez-Burgueño, the longtime director of the AFSB Folklórico dance program, and Kribbs revved up to seize the opportunity for the two groups to perform together. “Paco is super inspirational, and he has enough faith in us to let us play with his kids. It’s just a super experience for us,” he shared.

“Bach to Bluegrass” proceeds will support need-based scholarships for RFYO tuition and private music lessons.

The Aug. 18 performance is from 6 to 8pm. Admission is $25, with beer, wine and light refreshments available for purchase. To purchase tickets, go to

Tags: #"Bach to Bluegrass" #Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra #Ross Kribbs #The Sopris Mountain Boys
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