RidgeGate Up Close
Cindy Kessinger, Executive Director of the Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra
“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective or life in RidgeGate? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank you to Sarah Neumann Photography for conducting and photographing our RidgeGate Up Close interviews!
This month: Cindy Kessinger, Executive Director of the Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra
The Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year with a Season Kickoff Celebration and a throwback concert honoring their first performance. We met Executive Director, Cindy Kessinger, at RidgeGate’s local coffee haunt, Monk & Mongoose, to talk about the evolution of the orchestra, their new home at the Lone Tree Arts Center, and ways the community can support local music and musicians.
Tell us about the body of musicians that make up the Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra (LTSO).
Cindy: “We have 60 to 65 high caliber musicians, under the direction of Jacinda Bouton. Approximately 10 of the orchestra members and Jacinda have been with the orchestra since its beginning. We’re always looking for new musicians! We hold auditions every summer at the Lone Tree Hub. Right now we have a strong need for strings and percussion. We have seven paid principal musicians and the rest are volunteers. We have five performances a year, two of which are at Christmas and almost always sell out. We also have a budget to bring in ‘ringers,’ or additional performers for very specialized instrument needs.”
You’ve been the Executive Director of the LTSO for three years now. How did you get involved?
Cindy: “I used to work for a newspaper publication in Castle Pines, and the symphony was a client of mine. The president of the board had been a good friend of mine for several decades, so when the Executive Director position opened I thought my background as a musician combined with 25 years of radio sales experience might make me a good candidate. After meeting with Jacinda and the Board, they agreed, and here I am.”
What kind of background do you have in music?
Cindy: “Piano and voice. I’m a voice teacher and I have about 20 students that I teach in my home. I was a jingle singer, too. I sang a lot of commercials. I have also directed several vocal ensembles and choirs including The Wellspring Wonders Choir and Chorale for ten years.”
What are your priorities for the LTSO right now?
Cindy: “My main priorities are to increase our audience and get the word out that we’re here. I do a little bit of everything: marketing, PR, sponsorships, donor relations, hanging posters. I’ve developed a group of 12 volunteers called the ‘Sympho-maniacs’ and we’re always looking for more! Right now, I’m also looking to hire people with grant writing and graphic design skills.
There are also some basic ways your average citizen can help support us. For example, if you shop on Amazon, use the Amazon Smile feature and select ‘Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra.’ Amazon will then donate .5% of the purchase of eligible products to us.”
I understand the LTSO’s 20th anniversary is coming up! How will the orchestra celebrate this milestone?
Cindy: “Yes! On October 4th, we’re repeating the very first concert we ever performed back in 2000, and we’re calling it ‘Déjà Vu.’ We’ll perform Verdi’s Grand March from Aida, Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C, and more! And before the show, we’re hosting a 20th Anniversary celebration at 5:30 pm in the Lone Tree Arts Center’s Event Hall. Our attendees will get goodie bags, light hors d’oeuvres and a chance to participate in our silent auction. Tickets are required for both events, and you can buy them through our web site or the Lone Tree Arts Center ticketing office. And we’re still looking for items to be donated for our silent auction!
So the Lone Tree Arts Center in RidgeGate is the home of the LTSO?
Cindy: “Yes, but back in 2000 we were performing at the Cornerstone Baptist Church. Our Music Director, Jacinda Bouton, and many of our musicians, knocked on doors with then-Mayor, Jack O’Boyle, trying to raise awareness of the need for an arts center. We’re so glad they were successful and that we get to perform in the beautiful Lone Tree Arts Center today. We also have several small ensembles that perform for public and private events at the Arts Center and are also available to travel and perform for corporate, non-profit or private events. We call that program ‘Mini-Symphony To Go.’”
One of the challenges that many arts organizations face is cultivating new and younger audience members who will help sustain them. Are your LTSO performances accessible for younger audiences?
Cindy: “Absolutely. We want your experience to be fun. Come in jeans! Bring your kids! Every Christmas we bring in Santa and Ms. Claus, and this year we’re performing with the Cherry Creek Chorale, so we’ll have wonderful holiday music that everyone can sing along with. Another way we’re supporting the next generation of symphony lovers is through our scholarship program that is part of Douglas County Schools. This year we gave 13 scholarships to students for the summer music camps, and we intend to continue this into the future. We are beginning a partnership with DU’s Lamont School of Music as well.”