Mientka family shares love of music, dance

Gabe Mientka has studied cello in Germany for the past two years.

Stephanie Mientka plays the viola and is studying in Boulder.

Members of the Mientka family were part of the 2009 Celtica Sinfonica concert.



Three performances are scheduled for Anca Lupu and Gabriel Mientka’s presentation of Romanian Flair: Cello & Piano Passion.  The first will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Montrose Pavilion; the second will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at the American Lutheran Church in Grand Junction; and the third performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Blue Sage Center in Paonia.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Student tickets are $10.

Tickets can be purchased at Roper Music in Grand Junction and Farm & Home in Paonia.

Call 241-0741 for more information.


An airing of the 2009 Celtica Sinfonia, which includes performances from all five Mientka family members, will be at 9 p.m. March 4 on Rocky Mountain PBS.

The show also features the Celtic band FEAST and the Irish dance troupe “Strictly Irish.”

Repeat performances of Celtica Sinfonia are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 11–12 at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction.

The show sold out last year, so people interested in attending this year can purchase advance tickets at City Market locations.

Advanced tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for students 12 and younger.

Call 241-0741 for more information.

Music is more than a love for the Mientka family. It is a way of life.

Growing up with professional musicians as parents, the three Mientka children — Gabe, Stephanie and Rosemarie — never thought twice about the direction life would take them.

“We were simply all artists of some sort and that was that,” wrote Gabe Mientka, 23, in an e-mail from Europe.

Parents Tyme and Kathryn Mientka and their three children are happy to let Mesa County residents peek into their love of music and performance during the Western Slope Concert Series.

Tyme, a cellist, and Kathryn, a pianist, live in the Grand Valley and perform locally and internationally. All of their children have moved away from the valley.

In 2009 or 2010, however, the children are returning for performances.

Gabe, a cellist, and his Romanian girlfriend Anca Lupu, an award-winning pianist, have upcoming shows in Montrose, Grand Junction and Paonia. The duo will play a series of solo and duo works by composers from the Romantic period.

This will be Lupu’s first visit to the United States.

“She is totally excited to play concerts together with me in the U.S. and get to know the magic of Colorado,” Gabe wrote from Romania.

Gabe has been studying cello at the Hochschule fuer Music, the University of Music, in Frankfurt, Germany, for the past two years. Living and performing in Europe has been life-changing, Gabe wrote. He has learned lessons about performance and musical interpretation he isn’t sure he could have picked up in the United States.

That isn’t to say he didn’t pick up some lessons on the cello growing up with his father, he wrote.

Gabe was 8 years old and accustomed to hearing music swirl about the house when he decided he wanted to become a cellist.

“Somehow, I just knew that because my dad played cello, I would as well,” Gabe wrote. “I didn’t really want to at first, but I knew it had to be. When I got into orchestra, playing and discovered the magic of sharing music with other people, I really got passionate and felt completely at home.”

Family influences played a part in Stephanie’s musical decisions as well. She decided not to play the cello because Gabe did.

“I switched to viola at 14,” said Stephanie, 20. “I wanted to play the cello, but Gabe picked that first.”

Stephanie performed with her parents and Polish violinist Adam Han-Gorski in a local concert in January, but her best performance years may be in the future.

Stephanie is a junior studying viola performance at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

She also has aspirations of moving to Europe.

Performing is “what I’ve always wanted to do,” Stephanie said. “It’s what I do for fun.”

The hope their children would be interested in music certainly existed for Tyme and Kathryn, but their children were encouraged to have their own agendas, Kathryn said.

Pushing music on children can backfire, Tyme said.

“We thought if they want to do it, their enthusiasm fuels that,” Kathryn said. “We’ve never pushed them.”

“I wish she would have told me to practice more,” Stephanie said, making her mother smile.

“All the music is a very unique thing. It was great to get a glimpse of that early on,” Stephanie said.

The three siblings said Tyme and Kathryn weren’t stage parents, putting them in concerts at young ages or forcing them to spend hours practicing their instruments.

In fact, the Mientkas’ youngest daughter, Rosemarie, 17, does not aspire to be a musician at all. She decided to dance.

“It was the only thing Rosie was disciplined about,” Kathryn said.

Rosemarie graduated from high school at 16 and shortly thereafter enrolled as a ballet apprentice in ARC Dance Productions in Seattle. In 2009, she performed in Mesa County, but lately was sidelined by a car accident.

Watching their youngest daughter move far from home at a young age was eased by the knowledge she was pursuing a goal and not just a dream, Kathryn and Tyme said.

“I just wanted to dance,” Rosemarie said. “No regrets. I love it there.”


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