Janet Day: Couple fills Grand County hills with sounds of music
October 1, 2010
To quote Julie Andrews, aka Sister Maria, “the hills are alive … with the sound of music.” Joan and Roger Shaw work hard to keep it that way.
While events like Blues from the Top, Jazz Fest and weekly musical entertainment keep visitors and locals tapping their toes and singing along through the summer, the Shaws offer and encourage a variety of classical music presentations. They range from Roger’s new “Cellobration” display of the versatility and accessibility of the large stringed instrument to The Uprights, Joan’s scholarship-raising, piano-playing group, to perhaps the area’s premier classical music event, the Grand County Concert Series.
The couple’s musical mission started 12 years ago when they were playing weddings and other local events with a violinist from Hot Sulphur Springs. The violinist moved away a while ago, leaving Joan and Roger as the only classical wedding players in the valley. These days they work with a classical violinist from Evergreen and a flutist, averaging about 20 events per year.
About four or five years ago, calls started coming in asking for cello lessons. That, Roger said, was the beginning of the Cello Club that “sputtered along” until becoming a regular meeting for a core group of students. Joan calls it “Roger and His All-Girl Cello Group,” noting that budding musicians of any gender are welcome to join.
One young player who inherited her grandfather’s cello hasn’t grown enough yet to reach both the neck and the body of the instrument, so Roger manages one part while the little girl plays the other.
The group has played at church events and a few open mic nights, but recently decided to stretch their reach, twice offering the Cellobration at Mountain Grind Coffee.
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While Roger introduces listeners to the cello’s versatility, Joan continues to search for a new home for the six Uprights, who used to play at Gasthaus Eichler, pooling all of their tips to fund more than $6,000 in lesson scholarships for young local musicians. Not to be outdone by the cello club, the group now meets monthly as a piano club, not playing events but just “striving to improve,” Joan said.
Before moving to the Fraser Valley 15 years ago, the couple played in symphony orchestras in St. Louis and other communities, in big bands and small groups. When they moved here, they found little to nothing in the way of classical music. “The arts aren’t as prominent here as in other areas,” Joan said. “We decided to do what we could.”
One of their biggest pleasures, they said, is seeing the growth of the concert series. The 2011 series starts in January and offers concerts monthly at the Church of Eternal Hills in Tabernash. The lineup includes the all-string Carpe Diem, Poulenc Trio, Boulder Chorale, Denver Brass, all-horn Quadre and Bergmann Piano Duo. Information and tickets are available at http://www.Grand-CountyConcertSeries.org.
Moving On: Many mixed emotions circle my head right now as I pack to move back East. A great new job awaits. That’s the happy news. Unfortunately, that job is more than 1,500 miles away rather than in the valley or even the Denver area. So after many years of hiking, boarding, biking, running, paddling, eating, drinking and, of course, writing this column, I’m joining the ranks of residents leaving to find work. I will miss this area, these mountains and that great snow. I’ve already sold my snowboard with the expectation of replacing it with a sea kayak.
Above all, I will miss my many, many friends here. I’ll be back to visit, but I know it won’t be the same.
Keep in Touch: What or who has gotten your attention around the area? Let me know. I’ll try to answer questions or spread the news. Send it all to JDayQuilts@msn.com.