The intimate concerts showcase a talented ensemble within the elegant and comfortable setting of a private home

The tradition behind the National Repertory Orchestra’s Champagne Series goes back hundreds of years. When musical talent was discovered say, in the 18th Century, affluent admirers – even royalty – would invite the musician or musicians to perform in their home (or palace) for an exclusive, close-knit audience.

The Champagne Series, originally created by the Breckenridge Music Festival, has been revived by the NRO. Now in its second year, the NRO’s Champagne Series will return with four events this spring and summer.

Featuring star-studded NRO alumni Elizabeth Hainen (principal harpist for the Philadelphia Orchestra), Kate Hatmaker (violinist for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra) and Alex Greenbaum (Hausmann Quartet cellist), the season’s Champagne Series debut takes place on April 5 at a private residence in Dillon.

“Classical music is based on salon concerts,” says National Repertory Orchestra CEO Dave DePeters. “Historically, you could go to somebody’s house with 20 or 50 people and hear Beethoven play the piano. The NRO has dabbled in these type of events throughout our 60 years as an organization. It’s an extraordinary way for people to experience music.”

“It’s a beautiful mix of light classical music. If you think of champagne, that’s what this type of concert is like – bubbly and effervescent,” DePeters says. “It’s a great event for people who really want to experience music in a personal, intimate way. It’s like having a seat on stage. There used to be an orchestra campaign called ‘raising the invisible curtain’ because there’s always this divided feeling that musicians are on stage and audience members are in the audience. What’s lovely about these concerts is there is no curtain. You’re all equal, all close, all in the same place, all there to enrich your lives.”

Hainen says she appreciates the format of a Champagne Series performance because it offers an opportunity to connect with audiences on a more profound level due to the physical proximity of the musicians.

“The Champagne Series puts you in an intimate space that is conducive to storytelling, where you’re explaining your instrument in this comfortable way. I think what’s wonderful about string instruments, in particular in this smaller setting, is their resonance and reverberation. You’re able to touch somebody in a deeper way.” 

As for material, Hainen, Hatmaker and Greenbaum will each learn a new piece for the April 5 concert. Hainen will familiarize with Arthur Foote’s enchanting “At Dusk,” while Hatmaker and Greenbaum will learn the first movement by French composer Henriette Renié. The trio is also planning on presenting an enrapturing rendition of Camille Saint-Saëns’ famed “The Swan” and Hainen will perform her signature harp solo, Marcel Grandjany’s “The Colorado Trail.”

“The Frenchman was taken by the great beauty of the western part of our country. He was traveling, seeing the Continental Divide and all the vistas along the way. It made an impact on him,” Hainen says of Grandjany. “He made this harp tune based on an old cowboy song. It’s beautiful and pictorial. I love playing it.”

The Champagne Series kicks off at 4 p.m. on April 5 at a Private Residence in Dillon. Tickets are $125. Go here to reserve, call 970-453-5825 or email [email protected]. The Champagne Series continues on June 21 in Breckenridge, July 12 in Silverthorne, and finishes on August 4 in Breckenridge.