At Denver Eclectic Concerts, our express purpose is to broaden the public’s exposure to diverse and unique music. Performances are specifically presented by talented local artists who contribute immensely to the exceptional flavor and richness of the culture of Denver.
Denver Eclectic Concerts presents compelling concert events that feature a mix of musical styles that includes classical, folk, percussive and ethnic music, among so many others, artfully juxtaposed to create a truly remarkable and educational listening experience. The performers preface each musical performance with an informative and highly interesting short discussion. All concerts take place in Denver and are open to the public.
In 2007, Eclectic Concerts was granted status as a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to provide this rare mix of musical styles and genres for the enjoyment and education of the general public.
The first Eclectic Concerts event took place on June 24, 2007. On that evening, the Intermezzo Chamber Players performed selections from the vast repertoire of art music, spanning several centuries and styles. The concert was well attended and received. Subsequent concerts have featured South American folk music, jazz and a mix of styles of Western art music, including a world premiere by a living American composer.
All work done under the auspices of Denver Eclectic Concerts is done for the express purpose of presenting these concerts. This includes publicity, contracting of performers, arrangements of venue, fundraising and the actual concerts themselves.
Concerts are funded by ticket sales, public donations, grants, and foundations. This year, Eclectic Concerts are made possible in part by the Colorado State Bank and Trust Foundation, and by the Ralph L. and Florence R. Burgess Trust. Contributions are tax deductible. To learn more about making a donation, click here.
Denver Eclectic Concerts is the brainchild of cellist Dianne Wachsman Betkowski. Dianne has performed, recorded and toured extensively with a number of orchestras, including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the Honolulu Symphony and, as principal cellist, the Shreveport (Louisiana) Symphony. She has also performed with a number of chamber ensembles including the award-winning Lark Quartet of New York, the Apollo Quartet (Pittsburgh) and the Honolulu Symphony String Quartet. As a composer, Dianne has been published by MMB Music, and her works have been performed by such groups as the Lafayette Quartet, the National Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Amarillo Chamber Orchestra and the Utah Symphony, among others.
Catherine Beeson is a native of Texas, spending much of her formative years taking care of various livestock and trying to stay out of trouble. Fortunately the violin and the viola have kept her in the practice room and pretty much out of harm’s way.
Nowadays Catherine is unleashed upon the communities of the Denver metro area teaching at Regis University, leading a public school composition and performance based residency program for Friends of Chamber Music (Denver), and playing concerts on series in Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and New York. She leads workshops for adults and children, has designed and published teachers’ guides and lesson plans to support the education and outreach endeavors of the New York Philharmonic, Up Close and Musical orchestra (Denver), and Friends of Chamber Music, and has made video ads promoting Colorado’s Englewood Arts Presents concerts through social media.
In her “spare” time Catherine enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, cooking and canning all sorts of tasty stuff.
I live with my husband Adam and our three daughters, two of whom are being home-schooled currently. There are also two cats, a dog, two rats, two guinea pigs and an aquatic frog in the household. We love to cook and read and make all kinds of art and travel, and in the midst of all that, I direct Denver Eclectic Concerts, practice my cello as much as I can, and from time to time compose music of my own.
It all started on a small farm in Champaign, Illinois. Well, not exactly.
My parents worked at the University of Illinois and, besides being the only tomboy I knew — I was the first girl in town to play Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball — I grew up listening to lots of chamber music, thanks to my parents’ interest in it. I had always wanted to play the drums but was not allowed (really!). I taught myself a few chords on an old guitar that was missing a string or two, then played trumpet, and finally began cello lessons at the age of 11. Eventually, I began writing music and entered the National Academy of Arts High School in Champaign. This is where I met a few other cellists whose passion was improvising music together. In later years I would encounter other kinds of instrumentalists with whom I would collaborate on creating new kinds of music, in particular a jazz trumpeter and a Mexican-American singer/songwriter guitarist.
After attending the University of Illinois, and then Boston University for graduate school, studying with Gabriel Magyar and Goerge Neikrug on cello, and Marjory Merryman in composition, I became a vagabond: a free-lancer in Miami, Principal Cellist of the Shreveport Symphony, a section member of the Honolulu Symphony, the cellist of a professional quartet in Pittsburgh, a long-term substitute cellist with the St. Louis Symphony, and a cellist for a year with the Utah Symphony. Finally, after settling here in Denver, the need to create something musical and connect with other musicians overtook me, and I began finding not only like-minded classical musicians with whom to play great chamber music, but non-classical musicians with whom I could collaborate and create other kinds of music. Sometimes I manage to find the time and need to compose music of my own, although this is rare. At this time, having composed some music for orchestra, my works had been performed by the St. Louis, Houston, National, Honolulu, and Colorado Symphonies, as well as the Rochester Philharmonic, the Amarillo Chamber Orchestra and many other ensembles. I also wrote a practicing method, How To Get To Carnegie Hall, now in its second printing.
I have lots of ideas and love to find myself in the company of people who have lots of ideas; we give each other the courage to bring these ideas to fruition. We have commissioned a lot of new compositions on this series. We have created a lot of music through collaborations with non-classical musicians, and we have improvised a lot of new music as well. I think that everyone needs to express themselves artistically, but if you’re not actually playing an instrument or creating some work of art, it is hard to feel the “art” in one’s everyday activities (though I maintain that it is always there if one wants to feel it). So I offer this series as a way to be involved, either by sitting so close to the performers that you are nearly touching them (or helping us by turning a page now and then?); by being involved in the process of making music, either in discussions about it during our programs or in being participatory to the extent that we can think of it; or by having great conversations about the concerts in and around the performances.
I now play on a lovely cello made in 1995 made by Christopher Dungey.
Mary Cowell is a violist in the Colorado Symphony. When she’s not at Boettcher Concert Hall, you’ll likely find her accompanied by her two small children, exploring a new park somewhere around Denver, or going to and from preschool activities. Mary’s passion as a musician is chamber music. One of her favorite chamber music experiences was playing the Mendelssohn Octet in a town in Austria near Mendelssohn’s home.
Mary began violin lessons at age five. Her mother’s violin teacher enticed her — with giant gumdrops — into the music studio where she would receive a short, 10-minute violin lesson at the end of her mother’s lesson.
Mary’s love for orchestra began at age 10. She joined the Everett Youth Symphony, playing in the second violin section, and made her way up to the Concertmaster position by age 13! The director was Paul Elliot Cobbs, whose passion and excitement for music undoubtedly ensured that orchestra would remain a staple in Mary’s life.
Mary’s love for the viola was kindled in Russia, where she lived with her family from age 14 to 16. While waiting for violin lessons, Mary would often hear violists practicing in the hallways. The sound was comforting and beautiful in a place that was often stressful and unfriendly.
Upon returning to the States, Mary began viola lessons and received her undergraduate degree in music performance from the University of Wyoming. From there she went to the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her Professional Studies Diploma also in viola performance.
Dorian Kincaid has been a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra since 1995. She holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Indiana University. Dorian has performed throughout the Rocky Mountain region, including festivals in Taos, Aspen, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Colorado Springs, and at numerous venues in Denver. She maintains a home teaching studio and enjoys community engagement work with her string quartet. Dorian also really enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains with her husband, CSO bassist Jeremy, and their dog Tundra.
Stacy Lesartre performs as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the Rocky Mountain region. She is currently Concertmaster of the Cheyenne Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, and Larimer Chorale Orchestra. She was a member of and soloist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. She has recorded at Skywalker Ranch for Warner Brothers Records and has been featured on on Colorado Public Radio with the Parabola Trio.
Stacy began playing the violin in the 4th grade while a attending the Philadelphia public schools. She studied violin at the Settlement School of Music with Lynn Mather. Her degree in Music Performance is from Temple University. She was the recipient of several music and academic scholarships, including the Louis G. Wersen Award and the Temple University Outstanding Acheivement Scholarship. She studied solo repertoire and chamber music with Helen Kwalwasser and orchestral repertoire with Luis Biava. During a season with the Puerto Rico Symphony, she studied with Saul Ovcharov. While in Houston, she received coaching from Raphael Fliegel and studied solo repertoire with Fredell Lack. She has studied with Harold Wippler in Denver and Burton Kaplan at Magic Mountain Music Farm, and received coaching from the concertmasters of Boston, Cleveland, and Minnesota Orchestras.
Stacy has taught violin students, chamber music and orchestral excerpts in Houston and Fort Collins. Her students have become professional musicians, teachers, and competition winners. They have been accepted as music majors at the Eastman School of Music, Cincinatti Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, Cleveland Institute, The University of Texas, the University of Houston, Lamont School of Music, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Stacy lives in Fort Collins with her husband, Gregg, a technical contributor for Hewlett-Packard, and their two sons, Andre and Michael. They enjoy skiing in the winter and organic gardening in the summer.
Deborah Marshall has performed with artists ranging from Peter Serkin to Yo-Yo Ma. She lived in Germany for 22 years, where she performed with many of the country’s best-known orchestras. She served on the faculty of the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich and the Richard Strauss Conservatory for 14 years, and has coached and given master classes throughout Europe. She has recorded for practically every German broadcasting corporation, as well as Austrian Radio ORF, Swiss Radio SRG and Radio Orfeo Moscow. Next, she was in Budapest and Moscow for 11 years, where she continued her active career as soloist and chamber musician.
From her first piano lessons, where her dedicated teacher force-fed her music by Bela Bartok and Dmitri Kabalevsky, Nan Shannon developed a passion for the dissonances and diverse styles of new music. As a doctoral student at Peabody Conservatory, she in turn force-fed her audience the music of Elliott Carter, which they’re still trying to figure out.
Nan also developed a love of chamber music, preferring the excitement of collaboration to the nervous panic of a solo performance. She enjoys working with many groups in the area, including the Colorado Chamber Players, and the new music group the Playground Ensemble. In her free time between teaching piano classes and lessons at Regis University and Metropolitan State College, she can be found slogging up mountain passes on her road bike with her husband George, attending plays and operas with her daughter Caitlin, and trying to grow everything from rosemary to zucchini to tomatoes in the few sunny spots her backyard provides.