Who can ask for anything more?

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Angie Beach, executive director of Music in the Mountains, enjoys a moment of respite at “9 and Dine,” a fundraiser for the classical music festival’s education programs, before gearing up for the 27th annual classical music festival and her first festival at the helm. The event was held at the Glacier Club on Friday.

Let’s see: Golf on what has to be one of the most beautiful settings in the world. A delicious picnic supper. And live music performed by promising students who are excited to attend this year’s Conservatory at Music in the Mountains. Yep, that pretty much sounds like a great way to spend a summer Friday.

The occasion was “9 and Dine,” which started with a nine-hole golf tournament at the Glacier Club. The shotgun-start tournament (that means they all start on different holes so everyone can start nearly simultaneously, if my fellow nongolfers are wondering) took off at 3:30 p.m. The first-place team, with a score of 27, was Greg Behn, Andy Roach, Tom Geyer and Todd Sieger.

Because none of the winners stuck around for the prizes, organizers auctioned them off. So some generous folks will be dining at Cuckoo’s Chicken House and Waterin’ Hole and Norton’s Hwy 3 Roadhouse, while someone else will fill his or her shopping cart at PJ’s Market.

Golf was followed by the dine part, appetizers and a picnic dinner complete with fried chicken, barbecued-beef sliders, coleslaw, guacamole, green beans and quesadillas with berry turnovers and an assortment of cookies for afters.

A silent auction in the wine room featured everything from tickets on the Durango & Narrow Gauge Railroad, wine donated by The Rochester Hotel, flyfishing lessons and dinner at the new Seven Rivers Steakhouse at Sky Ute Casino and Resort along with other goodies – but I can’t read my notes, so that’s as far as I can go.

Bruce Geiss, director of sales and marketing for Glacier Realty, and Lindsay Lubrant helped underwrite the evening.

Thanks to their generosity, Music in the Mountains picked up almost $15,000 for its educational programs. Considering the organization gave $6,500 in scholarships to the conservatory and the annual Goes to Schools program costs about $13,000 (without the conservatory, administration or overhead), that money will be put to good use.

Let me just say that those programs give me great hope for the future of classical music, both for nurturing talent that may end up in the orchestra some day and for creating an educated and discerning audience to enjoy their work.

Jonathan Latta, who teaches percussion at Fort Lewis College and coordinates Music in the Mountains Goes to School, shared his passion for what the program means. He told that audience that only is it memorable for the students who are exposed to classical music, many for the first time, the experience of performing is equally valuable for the FLC students who hope to perform or teach music. Latta and his students give performances at area schools and at Taste of Music for 1,200 third and fourth graders each year, among many other activities.

Seven students, ranging in age from 8 to 16, shared their talent with us. They will be attending Conservatory at Music in the Mountains on scholarships thanks to folks like those who attended the “9 and Dine” event.

Violinist Kimberly Crawford, 14, and cellist Lexie Crawford, 12, are the daughters of Mike and Diana Crawford. Kimberly showed how to handle a miss with grace – a giggle and keep going. Ariana Keuski, 9, found the violin to be serious business. She’s the daughter of Suzanne Eckstein-Keuski and Timothy Keuski.

On the male side, Nick Wilbur, 14, played the viola with aplomb. He’s the son of Sue Kraus and Chris Wilbur. Joe O’Connor, 16, tackled Bach on the cello with confidence. His guardian is Jerry Goodpaster.

Brothers and violinists Casey Reed, 8, and Nolan Reed, 15, rounded out the program. Casey must have started violin lessons in the womb to be so self-possessed, and Nolan has progressed to the point where he’s comfortable dealing with an audience. He played the haunting theme to “Schindler’s List,” creating a hint of the klezmer with his instrument. Their parents are Cindy Bonitz-Ryan and Ron Reed.

Kudos to event Chairwoman Carol Treat, silent auction Chairwoman Mary Ann McCarthy, Music in the Mountains Executive Director Angie Beach and programs and education manager Amber Newman for creating an event that blends the best of Southwest Colorado – the beautiful outdoors, great food and fine music.

I was happy to have a Music in the Mountains event in June for more than just plain enjoyment. This is the perfect time to remind everyone that it’s time to purchase your tickets for what promises to be a splendid season, the festival’s 27th. It’s a bit of a challenge to pick the most enticing moments that Music Director Guillermo Figueroa and Artistic Director Greg Hustis have planned for us, but I’ve never let a good challenge stop me.

World music guests this year include Nosotros, A.J. Croce and the Alison Brown Quartet. Oboist Erin Hannigan is performing at a fundraiser at the Glacier Club set to Paul Boyer’s beautiful photographs of the Southwest. The orchestra is performing one of the great pieces of the classical repertoire, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and David Korevaar on piano will bring Gerswhin’s Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra to life. Oh, and let’s not forget the chamber concert in the beautiful acoustics of St. Columba Catholic Church (who can resist Pachelbel’s Canon?) and Carl Topilow conducting “Swing, Swing, Swing.”

For those who don’t know much about classical music, and those, like me, who know just enough to be dangerous, Linda Mack Berven will be presenting her free informative and entertaining pre-concert lectures before all the festival orchestra performances.

That’s just a smattering of the wonders in store. To see the full schedule and purchase your tickets, visit www.musicinthemountains.com, call 385-6820 or stop by the festival offices at 1063 Main Ave.

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Wishing for a cool breeze to help them blow out their birthday candles are Sue Hampton, William Knight, Lauren Cotgageorge, Chris Dunker, Rap Fairley, Julie McAllister, Marjorie Appel, John DeLeo, Ethan Ryan, Michael Fusco, Nancy Stevens, Tom Williamson, Lauren Wolfe, Roger Cole, Kendra Moffett, Susan Hermesman, Janine Crossno, Dorthy Wilson, Vivian Emrich, Pat LaRose, Stella Birrenkott, Sara Clair, Dana Strength, Sandy Studer, Amanda Blalock, Anna Folk and Paul Beauregard.

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The peonies are abloom for the anniversaries of Mike and Susan Johnson, Robert and Jackie Manning, Frank and Katherine Campana, Tom and Geri Campbell, Cyril and Laura Bohachevsky, Ken and Sue Marshall, Bill and Cindy Donelan, Bill and Peggy Hoffman, Alan and Brenda TeBrink and John and Eliane Viner.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

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