Big Music in a Little Valley

The Blue Sage Concert Series began in the summer of 2011 when a small group of volunteers responded to the community’s popular demand for exceptional concert art music programming right in its own backyard. Astonishingly, within the course of a few of weeks, the group raised $27,000 to purchase a concert 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 2011, she has worked to develop programs, program the series lineup as well as perform in many of the concerts.  A strong outreach initiative connects the North Fork community with advanced music education opportunities rarely seen in a rural area of this size. Workshops, master classes, free field trips and assemblies for local schools connect with over 500 students and adults each season. Housed in historic Curtis Hall, where every seat is an equally great listening opportunity, the Blue Sage Concert Series allows concertgoers to develop a deep personal connection to the music by virtue of its small size and intimate acoustics.


Recapping our 2015-16 season, October’s Baroque festival was a hit with sold-out performances by Jory Vinikour (harpsichord) and Ann Marie Morgan (viola da gamba). And our Baroque brunch was one of my all-time favorite events – a truly intimate look into the highly specialized performance practices of the artist with delicious food catered by Ellen Hutto. Earth Day this April brought the avant-garde work Voice of the Whale by American composer George Crumb, heartily received by our community of concertgoers. And rounding out the season was the incomparable Glen Velez and Loire Cotler both in concert and a series of workshops.

2017/18 Concert Series

Our 2017-18 lineup includes a brass quintet, a traditional Americana band, a legendary violinist, a modern music festival that will culminate with a world premiere of a new work to be written exclusively for the Blue Sage’s Concert Series, and more four-hands shenanigans!

Upcoming Concerts

Concert Series Gala Fundraiser

The Blue Sage Concert Series is honored to present Midori on its 2017/18 lineup.  Violinist, Midori, is regarded as one of the most legendary classical musicians alive today. In addition to performing at the highest levels internationally, she is recognized by the United Nations and World Economic Forum for her exceptional commitment to education and community engagement throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. Midori’s appearance is made possible in part by the nonprofit organization Partners in Performance.


Join us for a gala fundraiser with a champagne reception at 6:30 and concert at 7:30.

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!

2017-2018 Concert Series Tickets & Season Passes

Individual Tickets


Section A:  Adults: $25, Youth: $20
Section B:  Adults: $20, Youth: $15

Inquire about scholarship tickets for students, free when accompanied by an adult, by emailing

Season Tickets

 Classical Only $108 $135
 World Only  $54  $67
 Midori $55 $95


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.

David Alderdice, World Music Artistic Director

In addition to being the father of a three year old, David Alderdice is a multi-faceted percussionist, musician, educator, recording artist, performer, sound accompanist, composer, arranger, and enthusiastic rhythmist. He is the founder of and principal teacher for the Embodying Rhythm School of Percussive Arts in Hotchkiss, CO. Embodying Rhythm offers many different types of musical and educational opportunities and adventures for the community, including private lessons, group classes, and hands-on workshops, as well as musical outreach programs for the local and regional schools with in-school and after-school music programs, music assemblies, and music residencies. Embodying Rhythm also provides professional groove-oriented public concerts and performances.


David is Director of World Music at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia, Colorado, curating three world music concerts a year as part of the Blue Sage Concert Series.

More about David

David is co-director, melodica player, percussionist, and musical arranger for the award-winning NFV Community & Parade Band. He and his wife Arlyn, co-founded and run the Embodying Rhythm Marimba Project encouraging students of all ages to deepen their relationship with music through fun marimba ensemble playing experiences.


David’s musical expertise spans many instruments including drum set, frame drums, marimbas, tambourines, solkattu, shakers, and other auxiliary hand held percussion instruments with a focus in jazz studies, ensemble playing, rhythm theory, groove-ability, spontaneous composition, dance accompaniment, and ethno-musicology.


David has had the opportunity and pleasure of studying the drum set privately with many amazing teachers including, jazz great Ed Soph (University of North Texas), Robert Jospe (University of Virginia), Jon Seligman (McDaniel Collage) & Francis Thompson (Duke Ellington School of Music). He has also studied hand percussion with the frame drumming icons Glen Velez, Layne Redmond, Abbos Kosimov, Pejaman Hadidi, and David Kuckhermann.


David plays in many musical groups; besides directing, arranging, composing, and playing in the Embodying Rhythm Marimba Ensemble, he is a founding member in the Celtic World Classical Fusion group Feast, and plays drums for the funky New Orleans sounds of the Grizzly Pears Jazz Band. He had been a drummer and occasional musical director for the highly acclaimed Celebrate the Beat in-school dance program for almost ten years. He also sits in with and collaborates with many different artists, dancers, and musicians representing many different styles and genres. He usually plays between 75-100 concerts a year.


Besides being immersed in music, David enjoys exploring and roaming the backcountry of Colorado’s beautiful mountains and valleys, playing with the traditional Japanese Kendama, gardening, building soil, looking at maps, and hanging out with his family.


One of his main goals as a musician and an educator is to help make music and music making accessible to all. David offers lessons, classes, workshops, lectures, and play-shops focusing on the musical, creative, experimental, improvisatory, healing, universal, and interdisciplinary concepts of rhythm and the percussive arts. To watch David’s Tedx Talk “Rhythm & Shifting our Perception”, or to find out more about his different musical offerings and projects visit

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