Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! pulls story from local composer
May 30, 2014
There's probably a little Henry David Thoreau in all of us — go live in the woods and change the world.
Such a guy lives over in Bill's Ranch, where he's writing, composing, arranging and producing music much of the world hears when it comes time for the Summer Olympics every four years.
Barry Nease is that guy. He does much of the floor exercise music for Olympians with his company, Floor Express Music.
A fairly quiet and unassuming guy, bordering on shy, for Barry to agree to an interview took some time.
"We came here to raise our three children in the mountains 26 years ago — this is my 34th season at A-Basin," Barry says.
They originated Back East.
"I'm from State College, Pennsylvania., and Gail is from Youngstown," he explains. "We met in music school at University of Pittsburgh in the electronic music studio."
Barry has a bachelor's in fine art from Penn State and a master's from University of Pittsburgh in composition. Gail has a degree in piano from Pitt and a juris doctorate from Dickinson Law School. She later worked as an attorney for Penn State.
When the Nease family moved into their small Bill's Ranch cabin it only had 750 square feet; but it accommodated three boys, a dog, grand piano and a new business.
Historically, this is how Barry describes part of his family journey:
"I've been working with gymnasts exactly as long as I've been skiing the High Country. Gymnastics is a winter sport. When their season came, I was free to do my winter sport. Since I was on the road a lot, I made the A-Basin parking lot my winter camping spot. I love to drive; I've commuted State College to Summit County over 400,000 miles. We had the ski cabin in the ranch for three years and then decided to move to it for an adventure."
With several additions to the cabin, it now includes a recording studio "with a fantastic view of Buffalo Mountain. It is a custom-built room with beautiful acoustics and wonderful equipment — designed to be a composer's workshop, not a commercial recording facility, the control-room window looks out into the woods."
"I do most of my writing for large orchestras," he adds. "Being a full-time studio musician requires a lot of piano practice and study. I have been writing music for international level athletes for 35 years — Floor Express Music, started by Gail, is the record company that distributes my music."
You'll likely recognize some of the names that perform to Barry's compositions.
"My private clients include about two dozen Olympic medalists, including USA's Shawn Johnson and Aly Raisman, and Romania's Catalina Ponar," he notes.
Barry is also involved in playing piano at Dillon Community Church for 20 years, which is a big part of his life.
"A lot of the noncommercial music I have written has been for chamber ensembles performing at the Dillon church. My interests outside of my work usually involve some other aspect of music — I love playing my piano next to my wood stove. I start and end there every day," he says.
In addition to his skiing, avid hiker Barry makes sure his life is not all indoors in the lodgepole forest of Bill's Ranch.
"My Summit County skiing is at the Basin — specifically, the Pali chair. I cranked 71 runs in the Enduro its first year. We dreamed up the Enduro one hot August afternoon while trying to not work on building my house," Barry recalls.
And that house is bigger now — covering 4,000 square feet — especially with those boys out and into lives of their own.
"Our oldest, Nate, is a neo-natal intensive care nurse in Las Vegas, Nevada; Jon teaches tumbling in Denver; and Andy, the youngest, married a local, Lauren Frykholm, and is a video producer in Denver. Lauren is an interior designer," Barry says.
While at the Downtown Denver Arts Festival at the Center for the Performing Arts, Spike! and Mary visited with:
Mike and Nancy Taylor Mason and Susan and Kevin Wachter, all of Golden's Baby Doe's; Denver art show producers Jim and Laura DeLutes; Marsha Porter Magill, Judy Dentino Goebel, John Hiemer, Charlotte Taylor, Frank and Ann Amorosa; Betty Smith and Sharlene Hren of Leadville; Bruce and Ann Hough with kids Zoe, 15, and Clayton, 12, down for Green Day's "American Idiot;" Deborah Motika, formerly of Frisco and now of Denver's Capitol Hill and Hawaii; Denver Press Club member Judith Neches DeLorca and bartender Will Marin; Summit High School grad and metal artist Ben and Kyle Stielow and kids; Frisco hat designer Diane Harty, Friscoite Steve Smith, Brenda and Jay Herman of Dillon, and ex-Summiteers Bill and Michele Messenger.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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