Big Music in a Little Valley

The Blue Sage Concert Series kicked off in the summer of 2011 when a small group of volunteers responded to the community’s popular demand for classical chamber music programming right in its own backyard. Within the course of a few months, the group raised funds to purchase a concert grand piano and the Blue Sage Concert Series was officially born in November of the same year.


Today the series continues to be managed by Artistic Director and pianist, Susan Ellinger. Joining the Blue Sage staff in 2012, Susan has worked to develop outreach activities into the local public school system, program the series lineup as well as perform in many of the concerts.  A strong outreach initiative supported by both the public school system in Delta County as well as local CO granting organizations connects the North Fork community with advanced music education opportunities rarely seen in a rural area of this size.  Housed in the intimate and historic Curtis Hall and seating approximately 160, the Blue Sage Concert Series allows concertgoers to develop a deep personal connection to the music by virtue of its modest size and intimate acoustics.


Don’t miss our new ‘Matinee Series’ featuring family-friendly afternoon performances with special $8 general admission tickets and students attend free!

2018/19 Concert Series

Our 2018-19 season featured performances by Austin Piazzola Quintet performing Argentinian tango music; CU Boulder School of Music Artist/Faculty Christina Jennings, flute; Javier de los Santos in a program featuring Spanish guitar repertoire; Hub New Music Quartet with special guest Kojiro Umezaki, shakuhachi, flute performing a world premiere multi-media work by composer Angel Lam, Maria Ioudenitch, violin; and Abigail Fischer, soprano.

Upcoming Concerts

2018-19 Concert Series Gala and Champagne Reception

The Blue Sage Concert Series is honored to present soprano, Abigail Fischer and pianist Susan Ellinger in a gala concert event Sunday, June 23, 2019, at 7:00 PM.  The program features late works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner’s stunning Wesendonck song cycle for soprano.  Join our artists on a journey into the heart of high romanticism!  Special guest, tenor Jason Slayden joins the Gala roster with a selection of songs by Henri Duparc.


Writing about soprano Abigail Fischer in the New York Times, Zachary Woolfe notes: “With her dramatic tumble of red hair and cello-mellow voice, Ms. Fischer sings with a passionate restraint that has no equal in her generation. You didn’t want her to stop.”


The Blue Sage Music Program

Family Matinee Series

Evening Concert Series

North Fork Community Chorus

Public School Artist Outreach

Valley Youth Orchestra Artist Outreach

Our remarkable community here always impresses artists who perform on the concert series. This is a testament to the people who support this series with their resources, volunteer efforts and continued presence. It would not be possible without you!

2019-2020 INFORMATION for

Matinee Tickets

$8.00 General Admission

Inquire about scholarship tickets for students, free when accompanied by an adult.  For more information email, stop by the gallery during business hours or call (970) 527-7243 and leave a message.


Season Tickets $185 $145
Individual Tickets $25  $20
 Gala Tickets $55 $45


Tickets for individual concerts and season tickets can also be purchased in person or over the phone through the Blue Sage Gallery.  The Blue Sage Gallery is located at 226 Grand Ave., in Paonia. To purchase over the phone call the Blue Sage Gallery during business hours at (970) 527-7243 and have your credit card ready.

Susan Ellinger, Concert Series Artistic Director

Praised for her “refined, poised and singular” vision, pianist Susan Ellinger is capturing the attention of audiences throughout North America. Combining technical mastery with deeply emotional interpretations of solo and chamber literature, Susan is a pianist comfortable in a range of repertoire from Schubert to Debussy and a champion of new music having worked with composers such as Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Nils Vigeland.


Last season brought collaborations with artists performing the works of Claude Debussy. Most notably Ellinger reimagined Debussy for the stage presenting his Preludes Book One as a theatrical piece replete with poetry and sculpture alongside a live performance and bringing new life to these highly beautiful and programmatic works.

More about Susan

During the 2016-17 season Susan presented concerts surveying the keyboard repertoire of classicism and romanticism and presenting late sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven as well as works by Schubert, Chopin and Brahms. This series of lecture concerts will illustrate the evolution of pianistic and compositional style in the 19th century, a golden age of the piano.


Ellinger officially joined the Blue Sage Center for the Arts located in Paonia, Colorado as Artistic Director in 2012 to create and direct a comprehensive concert series program. Since its inception, Ellinger has collaborated with visiting artists such as Darrett Adkins (cello), Bill Kalinkos (clarinet), Rachel Priday (violin) and Christina Jennings (flute), who have noted the ‘remarkable community’, ‘incredible quality of life’ and ‘sheer beauty’ of the region where the center is located. The Blue Sage Concert Series runs year-round and consistently performs to sold-out audiences. Over the years it has grown to encompass both classical and world music concerts as well as outreach activities into local public schools and master class workshops provided by visiting artists. Ellinger is committed to making music accessible to all and bringing music performance and education to young audiences.


A protégé of Julian Martin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Susan went on to study with Leon Fleisher at Peabody Institute and Veda Kaplinsky at The Juilliard School. Susan is an alumnus of the Taos Festival School of Music where she studied with Robert McDonald.

Wondering if you can bring kids to these concerts? Yes!

You’re probably reading this because you’re aware of the positive impact exposing your child to classical music can have and now you’re wondering if it would be appropriate to bring them to a concert at the Blue Sage.  The answer: Yes!


The other truth is that as with any live performance, the audience is as much a part of the experience as the performers.  Over and over musicians tell us that they can sense the attention of the audience and that energy fuels their performance.  This is why concert etiquette usually stresses silence.  Talking, movement and cell phones ringing, especially in our small venue, distracts other audience members from their attention to the performance which detracts from the “fuel” the musicians receive from an engaged audience.  Distractions in the audience are also heard by performers on stage which can break their concentration.


For many young kids, listening intently for a long period of time is a new skill and may take some practice to develop.  Before purchasing a ticket for your child it is worth ensuring that they are prepared to succeed in their role as an attentive audience member.  Below is a How-To Guide for preparing your child for attending a live concert, which is borrowed from Inside the Arts.

Click for more about bringing a child to a classical music concert

Groundwork Preparation

  1. Sit with your child and listen to a three minute piece. Before the piece starts, ask the child to listen for three things. Is it a happy or sad piece? Was it quiet or loud? Was it fast or slow? It is important that you convey that while listening they are not to talk but to listen fully! After you listen with them, discuss what they thought. I think it would be a nice tradition to discuss over cookies or some kind of treat.
  2. A week later try a longer piece. Same questions, same discussion afterwards. Do not forget the cookies during the discussion!
  3. After you bumped up their listening lengths, start to ask them to use their imagination more. What did the piece remind them of? Did the work make them think up a story? Perhaps they could paint a picture of the images that came to mind. Painting, discussing, and the cookies now become a thing, your bonding tradition. You are sharing a very powerful experience that is fun and meaningful.
  4. Bonus discussions may pop up such as what instrument is making what sounds. Be prepared to Google what you don’t know and you might learn something fun, too!

Pre-Concert Preparation

  1. After you feel your child can sit through some longer works thoughtfully, they may be ready for some live music. Check out the schedule of your local orchestra and see what concerts might be a good fit. Have a listen yourself to recordings of works on the program you picked; at this point you should be able to tell if the music is something that will engage your child or not.
  2. Sit with your child and play portions of the recordings to be performed on the concert program. Ask the questions listed above and draw some pictures, tell some stories, and share some cookies. Tell them you are proud of how they can sit quietly and you’d like to reward them by taking them to see the music in person!
  3. Explain what will happen from picking the tickets up, to finding a seat and sitting quietly while a real orchestra plays the music they have come to know. Explain that there will be a time to talk during intermission and after the concert you will take them for a special treat so you can talk about the concert.
  4. Buy tickets near an exit or in the back of the hall if you are even remotely concerned your child might not sit through the concert.

Your Rules

  1. You will place your hand on your child’s shoulder if they are moving too much.
  2. You will remove your child if they make a fuss.
  3. You will have your child use the restroom before the concert.
  4. Your child will tap your leg if they are done, and you will acknowledge the tap by holding their hand and you will leave at the end of a movement or at intermission if possible.
  5. Notice as many exits as possible, have a plan and several backups.
  6. Try to take your seat about 5 minutes before the concert starts.
  7. No kicking the seat in front and no talking.
  8. Only quiet flipping through the program book, and if it falls, leave it on the ground.
  9. Both you and your child will go out for a treat afterwards if the behavior was good.

Post Concert Follow-up

  1. Hopefully you and your child had a great time. Good preparation usually allows for that!
  2. Ask your child what was the best part of the concert and what wasn’t. Make notes for future concerts you might consider.
  3. Start introducing some other music, keeping your tradition and special time going strong.

Sharing orchestral music is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child. In a society where attention spans are shrinking, this is a great vehicle to give a child access to a longer attention span and a calmer thought process. Additionally, encouraging children to use their imagination is a marvelous way to encourage creativity while helping them direct their emotions. -Holly Mulcahy