Music in Mountains now at family hour

Thursday, July 23, 2015 8:31 PM

Free hot dogs and root beer floats await young families at this year’s Music in the Mountains free family concert July 27.

The free picnic is a tradition, but the former Family Festivo has turned a corner in many other ways.

First, the free-with-voucher event has been moved from noon to early evening, so entire families may attend. Secondly, the picnic and concert combination will be held on the Fort Lewis College campus, with the picnic outside and the presentation inside the Community Concert Hall. Lastly, the concert offers a modern take on earlier introductions to the world of orchestral music. Think “Peter and the Wolf” with a playful ferret as the lead character.

“The Animated Orchestra” will be presented by a combination of MITM festival musicians, conservatory faculty and students. Composer Gregory Smith’s 30-minute work was commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music to celebrate that festival’s 50th anniversary in 2012. It has since become popular as a fresh way of introducing orchestral instruments to young people.

The story line centers on a cartoon character, a curious ferret who explores an instrument repair shop. The shop is owned by an old man who lives upstairs and snoozes the night away. Meanwhile, the ferret stumbles into what turns out to be a musical paradise.

Conservatory director Matt Albert will narrate; conductor Andres Moran will lead the combined orchestra, and there may be a few short selections by conservatory musicians. Expect lively audience interaction as Albert tells the tale and engages the child within us all.

The evening begins at 5:30 p.m.; space is limited and ticket vouchers are required. Vouchers are available at the MITM office at 1036 Main Ave., online at or by calling 385-6820. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, art historian and arts journalist.