In 1970 a small group of classically trained musicians began meeting in the parlor of Wilma and Charles Lowell’s Eckert home to play music with each other. This small meeting of like-minded individuals grew over the years; by 1982 there were 30 musicians practicing weekly in Delta and performing four annual concerts for the public.
Over time, the group began to include the Grand Mesa Singers and The Christmas in the Valley Chorus ;they merged and joined forces with the Orchestra to become the Valley Symphony Association. Today the VSA puts on quarterly concerts, beginning with their season opener and only free, outdoor concert with Pops in the Park. The concert series will run quarterly December (fall), February (winter) and April (spring) at the Montrose Pavilion.
It’s not an everyday occurrence to find multiple generations from one family playing music together on stage, but the Valley Symphony Association makes that a reality in the Uncompahgre Valley on a regular basis. The Orchestra is always represented by s musicians from teens through musicians in their 80s.
Dan Lamar began his musical journey at the age of six in 1949. He played in multiple orchestras on the West Coast until he made the move to Montrose Colorado in 1997. Once he was settled, he began playing violin and singing at his local church and soon thereafter started playing with the Valley Symphony Orchestra. Dan’s love of music at an early age created a drive to share the passion that had been such a big influence in his life, and he became involved with the Valley Youth Orchestra from its founding in 1999.
Eleven years later, Dan’s granddaughter, Hannah, moved to the Uncompahgre Valley and at the age of 7 took a shine to grandfather’s violin. After starting lessons with Grandpa, Hannah became involved with the Valley Youth Orchestra. She continued with them until she joined the VSA in 2019. Having multiple generations from the same family on stage together and Dan’s love of music being passed on down epitomizes what the VSA is all about.
The VSA has continued to grow and expand over the years. It now has over 60 instrumentalists and 35 vocalists from the Uncompahgre, Grand, and North Fork Valleys. The season kicked off with the free Pops in the Park performance, which took place this year in Montrose’s brand-new Rotary Amphitheater in Cherise Park. The free concert presented a wide range of popular and traditional classic tunes that brought smiles to the audience no matter their age.
Music blowing through the air and into the ears of the Western Slope patrons has become one of the most anticipated events in the region each year. The future of the VSA is bright with new generations bringing the wonderful sounds to the community every fall. https://valleysymphony.net
Written By Jeff Sutton
Jeff was born in Michigan but has been living in Colorado for almost 20 years. After opening and spending years managing a ski shop in Telluride, he jumped into the coffee industry. He currently runs production at Cimarron Coffee Roasters and is working on starting a coffee division for Curated.com.