The Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble, featuring CC undergraduates under the direction of Keith Reed, is always a favorite on the Black Rose stage. The ensemble, which receives academic credit and is by audition only, provides students a challenging and creative environment to develop bluegrass music, drawing from traditional sources such as Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and Flatt & Scruggs. The ensemble frequently performs at the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, held annually in April.
The group's 2017 lineup:
Jessica Wright grew up in the bay area of Northern California and is now a junior at Colorado College. She began playing electric guitar during her freshman year of high school and by her senior year she had switched to playing mostly acoustic. Her interest in folk Americana music led her to take bluegrass guitar lessons during her freshman year at CC. She has been playing in an ensemble for two years now.
Isaac Radner, a junior political science major, began playing the violin at age six. He was classically trained throughout most of his violin career, and participated in various orchestras, symphonies, and ensembles including the Colorado College orchestra. During his sophomore year he joined the Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble and quickly fell in love with the music, welcoming the challenge of playing in a style with which he was unfamiliar. He says bluegrass offers a more intimate and energetic performance experience than classical music, and allows him to travel and play around the state and country. He says the one downside is that he has only one more year left with the CC Bluegrass Ensemble.
Ben Pitta is from a small Massachusetts town called Hadley, famous for its asparagus. Ben started playing the upright bass in 5th grade and takes influence from Edgar Meyer and Paul Kowert.
Jeremy Becker grew up near San Francisco and became interested in bluegrass and old-time music at the end of high school. After being inspired by Bela Fleck and Noam Pikelny, he started playing banjo when he got to Colorado College.
Michael Hasson grew up in Sausalito, California, and is currently a sophomore double majoring in geology and history. He played California fiddle contests for several years before making the transition to bass in high school, where he was introduced to playing jazz and bluegrass. He switched to mandolin at the beginning of his freshman year of college and has been playing in a bluegrass ensemble since then. Adam Steffey, Chris Thile, and Tim O’Brien are among his primary influences.