Old ‘Cow Town’ Dubois has a new love: classical music

    (Dubois, WY) – Barely a seat was empty last Sunday at the Wind River Valley Arts Guild gallery in the Dubois Headwaters Center, as the audience enjoyed hits from those musical stars named Dvorak and Mendelssohn.

    It was the second in a three-series concert sponsored by Dubois Chamber Music, with the goal of giving residents of a fairly isolated Wyoming village an opportunity to hear the best of the classical genre, as performed by professionals. The 2023 season is the third year of the program.

    Last Sunday’s performance was by the Helios Piano Trio, all members of the University of Wyoming music faculty.


    “I’ve heard every one of these concerts, and this was by far the best,” said a retired outfitter from Dubois, after hearing violinist John Fadial, cellist Beth Vanderborgh, and pianist Chi-Chen Wu reach the rousing finale of Mendelssohn’s piano trio in D minor. “These guys rock!”

    The Helios trio followed last Sunday’s performance with a visit to the Dubois school, which gave middle school and high school students a rare opportunity to hear classical music performed live by professionals, and to ask questions like “When did you start playing your instrument?”

    The answer from cellist Vanderborgh may have been a surprise to students who live in a ranching community. She started playing the trumpet in the third grade, she said, “and I loved the trumpet. But I guess my parents didn’t. When my next birthday came around, I was really hoping for a skateboard. But what I got was a cello.”

    By high school, she said, her true passion was for horses. But when she said she wanted to quit playing cello, her mother replied, “The day you quit playing cello is the day I sell your horse.” (She was holding a cello as she spoke. Nobody asked what has happened to the horse.)


    Before playing the second movement of the Mendelssohn trio, pianist Wu asked the students to think about how the music made them feel and why. “It was enchanting,” said a boy who had listened. “Like a dream.”

    It’s clear from comments by listeners and performers at the concerts that their affection is mutual.

    “This is our third visit to Dubois. It’s beginning to feel like a habit,” said violinist Jennifer Ross—and one she hoped would continue, she added as the laughter subsided. Ross was speaking during the first concert of the series on August 27, a performance by a string quartet and flutist brought to Dubois by Jackson Hole Chamber Music.


    “So wonderful to have these concerts here,” wrote one audience member in an anonymous survey taken at intermission during that concert. “The music brought tears to my eyes. It was so beautiful.”

    “It was a meaningful exchange and all about the music and the people,” remarked flutist Lorna McGhee in an email after the August concert. “No standing on ceremony, no fuss nor hint of elitism in the presentation. It was all about gathering together and sharing a love of music.” 

    The Dubois concert series could not take place without generous support from the Never Sweat Recreation Board, the Opportunity Shop grants program, the Wyoming Arts Council, and the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund.


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