Craig Schoelkopf with his mom Betsy
The Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association is giving its annual holiday concert on Friday, November 30 at 8 pm. in Pikes Peak Center. "Waltzing Through the Holidays" includes three very special guests that will add a delightful musical frosting to the concert.
"Three of the individuals that we serve have a great passion for music," explained Jeannie Porter, who heads up fundraising for Cheyenne Village. The 41-year-old organization provides services and support for adults with developmental disabilities. "Through the Indy Give promotion, we got to know the Youth Symphony. We thought the organization was great. This inspired us to come up with a wonderful idea."
Marci Johnson, Teddy Kirkland and Craig Schoelkopf have raised the baton before. During Cheyenne Village's annual summer picnics they have assisted conductor Floyd Frame and led the Colorado Springs Concert band- as a trio. Now, the three challenged individuals will step into the spotlight at the Pikes Peak Center and conduct the award-winning Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Marci, Teddy and Craig conducting the Colorado Springs Concert Band last summer
"This brings tears to my eyes," said Debi Krause-Reinsch, the executive director of the Youth Symphony Association. "We're always looking for new ways to work within the community. This opportunity for Marci, Teddy and Craig will create a great holiday message for everyone."
Craig's mom, Betsy, may be the most excited person of all. "He's wanted to do this since he was a kid," she said. "He loves to conduct. I think people are going to be very surprised at how much of a real maestro he looks like on the podium."
Craig was born with Fragile X syndrome, which is the most common cause of inherited mental impairment. This impairment can range from learning disabilities to more severe cognitive or intellectual disabilities. Fragile X can be passed on in a family by individuals who have no apparent signs of this genetic condition.
The Youth Symphony and Cheyenne Village teamed up last fall for a joint event in Monument Valley Park that was part of the Indy Give community fundraising initiative - championed by the Colorado Springs Independent. They have kept that collaborative spirit alive.
"We planned this on our own," said Krause-Reinsch. "I guess this is an extra happy outcome from the Independent's community-building efforts." Both organizations are in the midst of raising funds and awareness through the 2012 Indy Give at this time. The promotion runs through the end of this year (www.indygive.com).
The conducting trio will take over for the Youth Symphony founder and conductor Gary Nicholson. They will conduct the final piece of the evening, "Sleigh Ride" by Leroy Anderson.
"Everyone should have their dreams come true," said Porter. "We are so thrilled to have three of our people we serve to have this opportunity to realize some of their dreams"
Tickets for "Waltzing Through the Holidays" are available at 719-520-SHOW and at www.pikespeakcenter.com. For more information regarding the programs of Cheyenne Village, please call 719-572-7478 or visit www.cheyennevillage.org. Youth Symphony Association information is available 719-633-3901 or www.csysa.com.