It’s no secret that the Front Range has a crazy appreciation for music.
While Nashville may be considered “Music City,” Boulder could easily snatch that title with its array of singers and players strolling the Pearl Street Mall, bars, and multi-story concert halls.
From venerable Deadheads to fans of Beethoven’s repertoire, fans of live music have filled the stadiums and infiltrated breathtaking auditoriums to escape into touching sound worlds.
The Museum of Boulder’s latest exhibit, “Music Buffs: A Century of Music at CU,” examines the lineage of on-site music programming at the University of Colorado at Boulder, sought-after concert halls on campus, and provides insight into future efforts of the College of Music.
The layered collection – a two-year endeavor, delayed due to the pandemic – is highly regarded given that 2020 has been marked by empty stages and nearly all major live music events have been canceled or postponed.
âWhat I personally found inspiring about this collaboration is that not many people know the musical history of Boulder and the College of Music in general,â said Addie Tomsyck, guest services coordinator at the Museum of Boulder. “Through this exhibit, patrons can gain insight into the rich musical history of Boulder and the College of Music itself.”
In the myriad of materials, visitors can learn about the incredible talent that has sprouted from CU over the years.
Among the featured creations is Pamela Z, a CU alum, an award-winning producer and songwriter known for her digital looping techniques, who grew up in Boulder and studied voice at the College of Music in the 1970s.
âCustomers can expect to see how a single piano at Old Main has grown into a thriving program with over 500 students and a new, state-of-the-art building,â Tomsyck said. “They will be able to learn about some of Boulder’s most iconic concert halls, such as Folsom Field and Macky Auditorium, and also get a glimpse of what the college is planning for its next 100 years.”
Grateful Dead lovers may feel nostalgic when they think back to photographs of the band’s crowded concert at Folsom Field in 1972, where 35,000 people were in attendance.
When it wasn’t the venue for football games, the great stadium was also rocked by greats like Bob Seger, Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones.
Last month, the Macky Auditorium hosted the Bluebird Music Festival, an annual event that drew fans from across the country and brought together Otis Taylor, Daniel Rodriquez, Molly Tuttle and many more.
From previous performers like singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne to Japanese-born American violinist Midori, Macky continues to welcome a diverse number of artists to his stage.
Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera will perform at CU’s darling venue from December 17-18.
âI think learning more about these iconic places was one of my favorite parts of my work on the exhibit,â said Chelsea Pennington Hahn, curator of collections at the Museum of Boulder. âThey are so well known in Boulder – and across the country – for their concerts and other performances, but so few people know the story behind the creation of these spaces. The exhibit explores this little-known history, as well as some of the craziest stories of concerts in Folsom and why it is no longer used as a concert hall other than for special occasions.
The exhibit also nods to the TakÃ¡cs Quartet, a world-renowned string group founded in Budapest, Hungary, which is now based in Boulder.
On Saturday, an opening reception for the âMusic Buffsâ exhibition will take place from 4 pm to 7 pm. Entrance is included with the purchase of a standard museum ticket. For youth, college students and seniors, admission is $ 8 and for adults, $ 10.
âThe opening reception will be a fun night for people to view the exhibit and also have the chance to meet the people who helped make it happen – the museum’s curators and our collaborators at CU,â said Hahn. “We’re planning to have live music, but we’re still waiting for a few people to come back, so we don’t have any details yet.”
The Boulder Museum hopes to provide a platform for local musicians to entertain patrons for the duration of the exhibit which runs through November 28.
âThroughout the show we definitely want to take this opportunity to feature local musicians, both from CU and the Boulder community,â said Hahn.
The eclectic stroll in musical memory is something that will resonate with musicians, rock ‘n’ roll scholars, historians, and anyone who considers concert tickets to be money well spent.
âWorking with the Museum of Boulder has been a wonderful collaboration with CU Boulder College of Music,â said Laurie Sampsel, professor of musicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “Partnerships like this help bridge the gap between faculty research at the University and the Boulder community.”
Sampsel will be giving a presentation on November 5 at 7 pm, âA Tour of Colorado Songs,â which will provide an overview of 20 songs inspired by the Centennial State.
The lecture covers tunes from a variety of genres dating back to the late 19th century to the present day and shines the spotlight on lyricists, composers and performers who have found Colorado to be a great muse.
While some songs focus on the magnificence of the mountains, others explore the history of the state. The presentation will also delve into the positives and negatives of Colorado through music.
âMy first folk song is ‘Colorado Trail’, but I’m also including some composed in response to the 2013 floods by Justin Roth and Taarka,â Sampsel said. “The rap song I chose is ‘Colorado’ by TechNine.”
Tickets for the Sampsel conference cost $ 10.
Also adorning the wall, visitors will find the eye-catching mosaic guitars made by artist Emily Dwan, a designer based in Denver’s RiNo Art District.
The musical instruments adorned with flowers and skulls – a nod to the Grateful Dead – were specially designed for the exhibition and are for sale.
âIf there’s one bright spot to take away from everything we’ve been through over the past year and a half, it’s appreciation for the partnership,â said Lori Preston, Executive Director of the Museum of Boulder. âWe are honored to partner with our local university, our educators and our students, past and present. “
With theaters reopening and more and more musicians on the road, this exhibit provides a timely insight into the memorable concerts of yesteryear and aims to get people excited about the musical offerings to come.
âIf we’re open to it, music is proven to help heal and express emotions,â Preston said. âWe need to explore the stories of our concert halls and local musicians and collectively create new stories and music together. “