Plaindealer Staff Report
The role of the Wright Opera House in the cultural history of Ouray's early mining days comes full circle on June 28 with the performance of concert pianist Kara Huber. The event is sponsored by David Conrad, grandson of Ouray's prominent early citizen, Ruth Miller. She was born at Camp Bird and went on to become a concert violinist with the Denver Symphony.
Her first exposure to classical music was at the age of five, in 1908, at a concert at the Wright.
Huber has made numerous solo appearances at the Kennedy Center, in the Eastern Illinois University Guest Artist Series and the Rising Stars Piano Series in Southampton, N.Y. She has received numerous prizes and awards for her performances, including the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, The Stetcher and Horowitz Foundation’s New York Piano Competition and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Huber has performed in summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Music Academy of the West and Pianofest in the Hamptons. She recently finished a creative music residency at the Banff Centre in Canada.
Conrad and his wife Sue, seasonal residents of Ouray, have chosen to celebrate the influence the Wright had on their family and their support for the effort to renovate and preserve the historic building by sponsoring this special concert and fund raising event, as well as a Master Class for piano students on June 27.
"Sue and I are happy to be able to bring Kara to Ouray… to invest in Kara’s future, the future of this hall and the future of the community of Ouray," Conrad said.
In her memoirs, Conrad's grandmother recounted her first concert attendance, at age 5 in 1908, at the Wright:
“A string quartette was to play at The Wright Opera House. It probably was quite expensive for us to go to hear the good music. I was so impressed, I could place my chair in the exact spot I sat that night. I thought, ‘THIS IS FOR ME!’ After I learned more about music, I knew they played Mozart that night.”
Thirty years later Miller encountered the musicians from that night by coincidence, while visiting their home in Boston:
“I started to tell her about Ouray, when she said, ‘Oh sister, remember that lovely mountain town we played in on our far west tour?’ They reminisced a bit about their tours and Ouray. I had remembered there were two ladies and two men who played. They said the names of the violinist and the cellist and said they toured two years, and then Mrs. Ginn had married. I asked when they were in Ouray. Mrs. Ginn answered promptly, ‘It was 1908. The year before I married.’ Then I asked if they had played Mozart. Sister said, ‘We always played Mozart to begin our concerts.’ They were happy I had heard them.”
Huber's program will include Liszt, Beethoven, and as a prelude to the July 4 festivities, American composers Joan Tower and George Gershwin. A champagne reception will follow the concert. Advance tickets are for sale online at www.thewrightoperahouse.org, where information and registration for the Master Class are also available. For further information, call the Wright at 970-325-4399.