All pianos are not created equal. For more than 100 years, concert pianists have relied on one name above all others: Steinway & Sons. That includes local group Friends of Chamber Music, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Traditionally, 60th anniversaries call for diamonds, but in this case, a little ivory will do—as in, the ivory keys of the troupe’s brand-new $120,000 Steinway concert grand piano. After 33 years with the same piano, the musicians were ready for an upgrade, so the University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts (where Friends organizes performances) purchased a black Model D with the help of Friends and the Newman Family Foundation. The piano debuts on January 5 during a show by Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax. But in case you miss it, we’ve outlined six other chamber ensembles worth your time this winter. friendsofchambermusic.com
1. Playground Ensemble
High Note: Who says you have to read music to play an instrument? On the third Saturday of each month (6:30 p.m., Denver Art Society), catch the ensemble’s Soundpainting, where rotating conductors use sign language—no sheet music—to lead the mixed troupe of community members and professional musicians.
Live: Pierrot Lunaire, February 20, 7:30 p.m., Newman Center, playgroundensemble.org
2. Denver Brass
High Note: This 14-member, all-brass ensemble isn’t just focused on tradition. The group emphasizes multimedia performances, pairing its music with light displays, dance, and vocals. Think of it as a classier laser light show.
Live: Ancient Threads: A Celtic Tapestry, March 14–15, 7:30 p.m.; March 16, 2:30 p.m., Newman Center, denverbrass.org
3. Evergreen Chorale
High Note: The nonprofit chorale also owns and operates Center Stage, a 160-seat theater that shows two full-length musicals each year. Catch Forever Plaid when it opens on February 21.
Live: Chichester Psalms, April 25, 7:30 p.m., Bethany Lutheran Church, evergreenchorale.org
4. Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado
High Note: Most of the BCOC musicians play instruments created specifically to replicate—in appearance and sound—strings from the 18th-century Baroque era.
Live: Virtuoso Vivaldi, February 15, 7:30 p.m., Central Presbyterian Church, bcocolorado.org
5. Colorado Chamber Players
High Note: Being in a hospital is stressful for patients and their families. To relieve some of the strain, CCP performs three free afternoon concerts annually in the atrium of Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Live: Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid and C Major Two Cello Quintet, February 1, 2:30 p.m., First Universalist Church, coloradochamberplayers.org
6. Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra
High Note: A recent $2,100 grant from the Arapahoe County Cultural Council will help fund this season’s guest artist program. One highlight: Sax and flute maestro Denis DiBlasio will jam with the group this spring.
Live: Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra with Monarch High School, January 13, 7–9 p.m., Dazzle (the same spot you’ll find them playing alongside local high school students every second and third Monday of the month), metropolitanjazzorchestra.org
1/8/14 Correction: This article originally stated that Friends of Chamber Music purchased the new piano with help from the Newman Center and the Newman Family Foundation. In fact, the Newman Center purchased the model D. We regret the error.