The Written Word Meets Music Contest Winners Announced

The Steamboat Symphony Orchestra and Off the Beaten Path are proud to announce the winners of the Written Word Meets Music Creative Writing Contest. Judges from the Arts Council, Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path read over 65 submissions from members of the community. It was a difficult decision for our judges, as all of the pieces were both creative and inspiring. Winning submissions will be featured as part of the March 19th and 20th concert program and will be read alongside each piece of music. Please enjoy the stories featured below from Jeff Wolf, Harriet Freiberger and Daisy Taranga and thank you to everyone who participated. We look forward to seeing you at symphony!

Inspired by Scheherazade -- Rimsky-Korsakov:

When Scheherazade tells the King, Shahryar, that she has no more stories to tell after 1,001 nights, the King laments about Scheherazade. 

by Jeff Wolf

As fine as silk

The touch of velvet

The taste of wine


I fall asleep craving more……


So deep the melancholy

Pervading my bones

My heart yearns to touch

deep into her soul.


Inspired by The Cowboys Overture - John Williams: 

Heartbeats and Hoofbeats

by Harriet Freiberger


They ride and run together – men and horses -

westward into shining golden sunlight and looming snow-capped peaks 

-their shouts and hoofbeats loud, reverberating on crusty rockhard earth.


Horses making men of boys who are growing tall,

riding past the innocence of childhood

and into fears and doubts that rise before them,

boys running hard to follow without thought of time.


Seeing him, the man ahead who leads the way upon his horse,

feeling something never felt before, the small ones watch

the towering giant astride his stalwart creature,

and sense the power in their certainty of strength.


Reaching high, the youngsters touch the twosome,

feel life’s truth within the safety of their presence,

recognize the clarity of knowing what is good

and knowing when to look aside from what is not.


Boys, growing taller, catching up, and learning how,

soon race into the gallop that takes them to his side.

Proud, but not yet quite understanding, they glimpse

the future that awaits beyond blue western skies.


They cannot know it is only now beginning,

this journey onto roads that rise toward mountains

and off the tracks past daunting markers into shadows,

where courage comes with slow and careful walking.


The time will come when youth is quite forgotten,

and manhood’s fullness takes the place of dreams;

but, even then, when it is hard to find which way to go,

the sound of horses’ hooves will echo in their minds.


That roaring cadence will return in a crescendo

of remembrance – both sight and sound abounding,

Blue sky will clarify anew what’s right and wrong

and the man upon his horse will point the way.


Once more, the boy will look into his leader’s eyes

to finally see as he does;

and they will ride away together, men and horses,

heartbeats and hoofbeats sounding forever.


They are cowboys.

Inspired by Hebrides (Fingal's Cave) - Mendelssohn: 

Song of the Sirens

by Daisy Tarango

Asta watched the storm snarl behind her, the lightning and thunder reflecting off the cave, making shadows and echoes blend together to create something captivating and intimidating. She watched her kin as they prepared to perform the ritual.

Asta was not the only one to observe this. Only one other girl had made it past twelve winters. She had hair that flowed like ink. Her black tail glinted an occasional glimpse of bright violet scales. She seemed like a gentle nightmare compared to how dream‐like Asta appeared with her soft gold scales. Their appearances contrasted but they both had the determination to survive thirteen years in the unforgiving ocean.

Asta turned away from her thoughts as she saw the clan settling. She caught the eyes of a siren with a coral blue tail. The pointed grin she gave Asta made her run her tongue over her dull teeth. After the ritual she would be a true siren. Her voice would become a weapon that she would only use to defend herself and her clan. She silently watched as they gathered into a formation. Their leader was in the front, her tail glimmering a blood‐ like red. Asta watched in anticipation, waiting for the ceremony to begin.

All was silent when the first voice started to sing. It was a silky sound, comforting but chilling at the same time. The next two voices that rang out were smooth and serene, strengthening the song. After that, too many voices joined at once and were hopeless to tell apart, creating an unearthly melody with the deafening thunder. Shadows and shimmers from scales and lightning contrasted each other beautifully, uniting with the haunting melody to create a ghostly display.

Watching the scene before her grow more and more intense stirred something inside Asta. Something ancient. The feeling grew more and more until finally she let it control her.

Asta closed her eyes and felt the sleeping siren inside her awaken, her voice spilling out of herself to join the song. She felt the strength of the song flow through her, her teeth and voice sharpening as anything human inside her was poured out and consumed by the song of the sirens. What felt like hours still wasn’t enough as, all too soon, she felt the voices start to die out as the sun rose over the storm, sunlight consuming lightning and shadows.

The voice inside her slowly started to slumber once again as the number of voices slowly reduced to one. Asta felt her changing was welcomed by the sea as she felt a warmth surround her where a chill had previously been. Slowly, she opened her eyes to see the leader still singing with her velvety voice. When everything was silent once again, she saw the flashes of grins in the dark. She let out her own sharp grin, feeling the new senses welcome her to the world of the sirens.