Breck’s National Repertory Orchestra opens 53rd season |

Breck’s National Repertory Orchestra opens 53rd season

Aaron Bible
Summit Daily News
Special to the DailyThe summertime Porch Series is just one of the 17 performances the BRO has in store for people this summer for its 53rd season.

The National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) announced its 53rd season is opening June 15. The opening concert takes place Friday, June 15th at 7:30 p.m. at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center.

This will be the 35th season for Carl Topilow, Music Director of the National Repertory Orchestra. “Although this is my 35th year, I’m always excited about a new season,” Topilow said. “The opportunity to work with talented and motivated young musicians is always inspiring to me, and I look forward to another great summer. Assembling a group of musicians who have never performed together on a Monday and presenting our first concert on the Friday of the same week is an occasion and challenge that I always enjoy.”

“The quality of musicianship displayed by the talented young musicians” is what makes the NRO particularly special, said Julie Chandler, director of marketing and development. Before they can get here, the 18- to 28-year-old musicians face a rigorous audition process and only the most talented from the around the country become a part of the 89 member orchestra. “While here in Breckenridge, they take on challenging repertoire and a demanding schedule. In essence, they play an entire orchestral season with small chamber events compressed into a short eight weeks. It’s amazing,” said Chandler.

Yet the NRO is not entirely consumed by the music. Another aspect that makes the NRO special is the Breck community that helps support the aspiring professional musicians. In addition to the support shown through attending performances throughout the summer, visitors to the area may not be aware of the depth of community support for the seasonal orchestra.

Each orchestra member is given the opportunity to have a host family while they are here, which gives them the possibility to borrow bikes, go hiking, and take advantage of other outdoor recreation. The Community Link program is headed by Barbara Calvin, who learned the ropes from her predecessor Bonnie Kirshenbaum.

As a group, orchestra members along with their host families have opportunities to climb peaks, attend a Rockies game, go rafting and other activities. Because NRO members are given a small stipend to buy groceries each week, host families are also encouraged to provide meals at least once a week.

Additionally, to help the musicians, the St. John’s Baptist Church of Breckenridge provides a weekly dinner for the orchestra that takes place on Thursdays. When the musicians run into problems, they are encouraged to call their host families. For instance, if they need to visit a dentist or a doctor, the host family can tell them where to go or who to visit. Basically, the host family is like providing a family for the musicians while they are away from home. It is an exciting opportunity for the musicians to be able to explore beautiful Colorado. “I’m so excited about the opportunity to go rafting, without the Community Link program, I probably would not have been able to go,” said Cianna Reider the Video and Social Media Intern.

NRO musicians also have the opportunity to give back to the community by doing special events. This season includes events including the “Free Porch Series” and the “Free Brown Bag Lunch Series.” It is important that the musicians learn to give to the community because without the community the orchestra would not be possible.

Some of the most popular events of the season are the “Patriotic Celebration,” the “Broadway and Beyond” concert featuring the music of John Williams and the “Topilow Pops” concert. Other exciting and varied pieces in their repertoire include works by Copland, Beethoven, Mozart, Hindemith, Stravinsky and more.

“The diplomatic answer as to my favorite piece of music is as follows – it’s the piece that I’m conducting at the moment! However, the Copland Symphony #3 is such a thrilling work that I would have to say that this piece would be the one that I look forward to the most,” Topilow said. “It’s very difficult, and all the string players were sent their parts well before their arrival, since they aren’t available except by rental. But really all of the repertoire is great, and it should be a terrific season.”

For more information about upcoming concerts and tickets visit or call (970) 453-5825.

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