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.


We are pleased to announce that our flagship Matinee Series will continue for a second year, featuring family-friendly Sunday afternoon performances for the whole family with special $10 general admission tickets and free student tickets.  Our matinees do sell out, so we recommend reserving your tickets in advance.

2019/20 Concert Series and Family Matinee Series

We are pleased to announce our 2019/20 lineup featuring Tesla String Quartet performing Russian masterworks, New Morse Code Duo (cello and percussion) performing works by Robert Honstein and Florent Ghys, Violinist Francesca Anderegg performing works by Mozart and Schumann, Quarteto Nuevo performing a fusion of Latin, jazz and folk music, and much more.


Our second annual Family Matinee Series on Sunday afternoons features family-friendly programming for all ages.  This years lineup includes Japanese folk music with guitarist Hiroya Sukamoto, clarinet adventures with the remarkable Jun Watabe, and much more.


Stop by the Blue Sage gallery and pick up a brochure with the full lineup of performances today!

Upcoming Concerts

2019-20 Concert Series Gala and Champagne Reception

The Blue Sage Music Program is pleased to present pianists, Michael Adcock and Susan Ellinger in a gala concert event Saturday, May 2, 2020, at 7:00 PM.  Michael will present solo works by Schubert and Brahms, and Susan joins him for some four-hands fun with additional works by Bach, Barber, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart!  Our concert series gala event is held annually and supports the Blue Sage Center’s multi-faceted music program.


Hailed for his prodigious technique and praised by the Washington Post for an “unusually fresh and arresting approach to the piano,” pianist Michael Adcock has cultivated a versatile career as soloist, chamber musician and pre-concert lecturer. Recipient of the 1998 Lili Boulanger Memorial Award, Mr. Adcock was also a prizewinner in the 1996 Washington International Competition and the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competitions in Chicago and New York. Mr. Adcock gave his Carnegie Weill Recital Hall debut in December of 1998. Mr. Adcock earned Master’s, Artist Diploma and Doctoral degrees from Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Leon Fleisher and Ellen Mack, and was adjunct faculty in theory and chamber music. Mr. Adcock took his Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College-Conservatory and attended secondary school at North Carolina School of the Arts.



North Fork Community Chorus

Delta County Public School Artist Outreach

Valley Youth Orchestra Artist Outreach

Family Matinee Series

Evening Concert Series

Free Children’s Tickets to All Music Events

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

$10.00 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.


Season Tickets $180 $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 combines technical mastery with deeply emotional interpretations of classical solo and chamber music literature. She has performed extensively as both soloist and chamber musician, presenting recitals at Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, Bruno Walter Auditorium, Caramoor Music Center, Harvard University, Oberlin Conservatory, Tanglewood Music Festival, the Taos Festival School of Music and many more. She has appeared as concerto soloist with the Peabody Conservatory of Music Orchestra, in regular concerts with The Chelsea Chamber Players in New York City, as a featured soloist in a series of concerts with the Vermont Symphony under conductor Marin Alsop, and most recently, in a series of collaborations with the Valley Symphony Orchestra in Montrose, CO.

More about Susan

Susan has won top prizes both as a soloist and chamber musician at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music and was awarded the National Baldwin Junior Keyboard Achievement Award presenting concerts in Washington DC for the Music Teachers National Association. As a chamber musician, Ms. Ellinger has studied and performed with members of the Juilliard, American, Guarneri and Muir String Quartets and she annually collaborates and concertizes with artist/faculty from the Aspen Music Festival and CU Boulder School of Music. A protégé of Julian Martin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Ellinger went on to study with Leon Fleisher at Peabody Conservatory and Yoheved Kaplinsky at The Juilliard School. Susan is an alumnus of the Taos Festival School of Music where she was a full scholarship student of Robert McDonald.

In 2012, Susan Ellinger relocated from Los Angeles where she had worked with Sony Pictures for several years serving as a consultant in their film division. After having been approached by a number of individuals on the Board of Directors at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia, CO to develop classical music programming, she realized the chance to bring concert art music and educational outreach to a rural community was an extraordinary opportunity. Within the course of a few months, the local community negotiated a contract with Ellinger and raised approximately $30,000 to purchase a performance level piano for their concert hall and the Blue Sage Concert Series was born with Ellinger as Artistic Director.

Susan has gone to create, develop and direct a comprehensive music program including classical, jazz and world music concerts, a choral program that offers beginning through advanced training and performance opportunities, music education outreach into local public schools and lecture workshops by visiting artists. Through her work and reputation as the Blue Sage’s Concert Series Artistic Director, Ellinger has developed relationships with regional music organizations such as the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, Valley Symphony, Ouray County Performing Arts Guild, Basalt Regional Library and the Aspen Music Festival. Joining the Blue Sage as Artistic Director has been an opportunity for Susan to develop her own career as a performing artist within a community that is highly supportive, as well as bring concert art performances and music education to a rural, underserved and remote mountain community.

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