Since 2011, Sphere Ensemble has pushed the envelope of typical string ensembles and brought music education and performances to underprivileged areas in Colorado. But all of that could now be in jeopardy.

Colorado's innovative Sphere Ensemble group is in a season of transition, and as such, finds itself fighting for its very existence.

Having experienced some board member and administrative leadership turnover within the last year, the 13-member string ensemble (a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit) has regrouped and is now re-emerging on the Colorado music scene, working feverishly to raise the funds they need to keep doing what they do best: bring music "performances and educational programming to marginalized audiences in Front Range communities."

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But to keep having the impact they want to have on those diverse communities, Sphere needs $20,000 by mid-April, and they're looking to their "Have a Ball with Sphere" spring concert and silent auction on Sunday, April 15, to make a huge dent in that amount. If they aren't able to raise the funds needed, the future of the Sphere Ensemble (which has existed since 2011) will be at risk. WHAT: "Have a Ball with Sphere" spring concert and silent auction WHEN: Sunday, April 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. WHERE: The Studios at Overland Crossing | 2205 S. Delaware Street, Denver TICKETS: Adults -- $20 | Children/Students -- $10 | Military/Seniors -- $15 | Purchase tickets here The evening will include a silent auction, drinks, and small bites, as well as music performed by Sphere and its individual members.
So why Sphere -- when Colorado definitely has its fair share of professional music groups? From fun, energetic concerts at Children's Hospital Colorado, to educational performances at Title I schools, to a multi-day, free interactive workshop and concert at Broomfield Public Library, Sphere is truly dedicated to their mission of “engaging diverse communities through innovative programming, education, and outreach.” Part of Sphere's fundraising goal will enable the group to expand their outreach efforts to include "homeless shelters, juvenile detention centers, women’s shelters, and assisted living and memory care facilities,” their website says. [gallery type="rectangular" size="medium" ids="35015,35013"]
In addition to performing the masterpieces of string orchestra music, group members also write arrangements customized to the 13 members of the ensemble, creating a one-of-a-kind sound.
"We play around with the idea that, yes, this is a string ensemble, but we do things differently than usual," violinist Veronica Sawarynski explained. "We form our arrangements so that all the parts have a voice. ... We're breaking the mold of only having to do classical works, or only western. We like to perform works from all genres."
For instance, in one performance, Sphere could conceivably play a movement from a Beethoven symphony, followed by  "Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry, to showcase a traditional classical piece alongside a popular one. Another piece they've performed is titled the "Four Chord Song," which includes excerpts from 40 pop tunes within six minutes. The group's executive director Alex Vittal recently arranged a jazzy, '50s-crooner rendition of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that they hope to play and record to be broadcasted on Colorado Public Radio's classical station in December 2018. "We also stand up when we perform, which is different than most groups," Sawarynski said. "We find that we move better and communicate better as a group when we stand." [caption id="attachment_35014" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]string Courtesy of Sphere Ensemble's Facebook[/caption] That element has an effect on Sphere's audiences, too, who seem to respond more energetically to the music when the performers are able to move and insert more emotion as they play, thus eliminating some of the stiffness of traditional orchestra concerts. Listen to one of Sphere's signature pieces, "All the Rowboats"(Regina Spektor's song ingeniously intertwined with over a dozen classical works arranged by cellist David Short), here: [embed][/embed] To hear more from Sphere’s outstanding debut album, Divergence -- which includes Styx's "Come Sail Away," and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," click here. The album was even included in the list of Colorado Public Radio’s Top 20 classical album releases of 2015.
Tickets are available now to Sphere's 2018 concert and fundraiser, "Have a Ball with Sphere," on Sunday, April 15, at 6 p.m. Purchase tickets here. All donations made to Sphere Ensemble are tax-deductible. For more information about the group, please visit their website or Facebook page. Have you had the privilege of hearing Sphere perform? Don't you think innovative string ensembles like Sphere are invaluable to our community? Please leave a comment below, and don't forget to make a donation to keep Sphere Ensemble going strong!

This double bass player collaborated with nature to create a one-of-a-kind album! Learn more here.