Denver is on the verge of dismantling the foundation of its culture infrastructure. Boettcher is threatened with demolition. Instead, transform it into the gem Denver deserves.
Yes, Boettcher is flawed, fortress-like and dated. But it is built and better than nothing or a terribly sited seasonal outdoor theater! It is part of our local cultural scene and the elements are there to create something extraordinary. Boettcher Concert Hall, at its best, can be a Community Kiva where we gather to share a musical journey that often achieves mystical and sacred levels. Such a powerful communal experience is rare and does not happen in traditionally-designed concert halls.
Attending a concert at the beautiful, classically-designed Newman Center Gates Concert Hall reminded us of how Boettcher’s design offers a unique, open and interactive experience. “In the round” means the faces of other patrons surround you, heightening the sense of shared community. Sitting at various spots around Boettcher affords unique perspectives and an intimacy with the musicians beyond the front row. As much as we love the strings (always up front) it is also thrilling to sit along the sides at Boettcher and peer over the shoulders of the musicians at their sheet music and harps, trumpets and booming kettle drums. Only Boettcher’s design provides such “up close and personal” experiences!
The public spaces, now cramped and dowdy, could be uniquely Denver with a fresh re-visioning. Imagine the impact of opening up Boettcher to the outside…
A glass domed ceiling, letting in light and revealing Colorado blue skies…
Punching out the brick walls around the perimeter, adding windows and balconies with views to the sculpture lawn, Speer Boulevard, the mountains…
Create a unique “indoor/outdoor” concert venue with a retractable wall between Boettcher and the lawn…
There is so much opportunity to celebrate and leverage the symphony to nurture our community! But this takes community will, passion and vision. Here is our appeal to everyone who cares about the CSO and the role it plays in the soul of our community:
Do we value a world-class symphony orchestra? Denver aspires to be a truly world-class tourist destination, and touts its arts and cultural environment . Yet recent headlines suggest otherwise. The Denver Arts Complex is “underutilized” and the home of our beloved symphony orchestra, Boettcher Concert Hall, is threatened with demolition to be replaced with a seasonal outdoor venue. The CSO would be shoehorned into the Ellie with Colorado Ballet and Opera Colorado. Cozy and unrealistic for a variety of logistical reasons.
Especially disturbing is how this brouhaha is happening at a time of almost unprecedented prosperity in our city. Denver is not Detroit. Daily headlines celebrate job growth, innovation and urban revitalization; construction cranes pierce the sky, new restaurants open daily and entire sections of the city are being rebuilt. Hordes of talented young people flock to the Mile High City for a unique “vibe”, boosting the population to the highest levels ever. Almost as many retirees are joining them for their “next life”, drawn by the vitality, livability and cultural buffet served up by Denver’s core city.
Yet something is amiss. Where does magnificent music fit in our civic mix of hip, hype and bravado?
A rustic frontier town at the edge of the dusty high plains was able to erect the elaborate Tabor Opera House, Brown Palace Hotel and a gold domed capitol building. Yet a wealthy, thoroughly modern, sophisticated metropolis cannot properly support a magnificent array of musicians who attract titans of classical music from around the globe? The difference is leadership and vision.
Dear Mayor Hancock,
Your leadership makes a difference. As Mayors Speer, Pena and Webb before you, please inspire the community to aspire to cultural greatness and build toward that goal. Your Administration is in control now and has the ability to make or break a significant part of our shared cultural heritage. Your efforts will boost tourism, economic development and job growth, all essential to our community! Your Administration must not preside over the dismantling of our cultural gem – it must lead and revitalize! We call upon you to remove razing Boettcher as an option.
Dear CSO Musicians,
Of all the parties involved, we feel the most for you. You show up and give it your all, and yet it never seems enough. Sometimes you’re even vilified for being unionized and wanting fair treatment. Or you’re labeled as part of an elitist, out of touch art that is waning and dying in the digital age… Ignore them all, and continue performing. No one could blame you for leaving Denver if this dispiriting fiasco continues. But we hope Denver figures things out soon and gives you cause to stay and thrive.
Dear CSO Leadership,
You have embarked on a dynamic and adventurous programming schedule literally going where no symphony has gone before. Marijuana-friendly fund-raising concerts attracted worldwide attention and acknowledged the need to expose new audiences to the power of orchestral music. We applaud these efforts to simultaneously be a steward of classical music heritage while breaking the mold and pushing the envelope! Push harder to be creative, fill seats and achieve fiscal solvency.
Dear CSO Supporters,
Re-double your support and lobby community leaders (political, business, philanthropic) to embrace the fine musicians of the CSO.
Denver, it’s time to make a decision. Let’s live up to our great city aspirations and support the CSO by envisioning and investing in them to build a great future. Or let’s accept second tier status and save the dough. We can always wait for touring orchestras from other great cities, attend the excellent University of Denver Student Orchestra, or drive up to Vail’s music festival. This new round of “race to the bottom” shenanigans is a painful civic embarrassment.
The CSO is extending its hand to the community- will we reach back?