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May 2015 • Online Edition

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Rosenthal/Faleide Mix Music, Open Spaces, Community | Print |  E-mail

by Susan Dugan

Stepping into the East Washington Park home of Ellin Rosenthal and Ron Faleide, hosts of Gilpin Street House Concerts, offers welcome respite on a winter morning following a couple weeks of biting cold.


RON FALEIDE AND ELLIN ROSENTHAL WELCOME MUSIC LOVERS INTO THEIR HOME several times each year for a series of house concerts that provide a milieu for acoustic musicians to broaden their audience, while bringing friends and family together in a celebration of community.

Huge glass walls and windows funnel sunshine into the spacious residence, designed by architect Faleide with an eye toward light and acoustics, reflecting a passion for open spaces and music.

 “I grew up in a very, very cramped house,” the North Dakota native explains. “My mom collected stuff everywhere, so I just wanted to breathe. When it came time to remodel the house, I said, let’s have one big indoor room and a big outdoor room. But the indoor should feel like it’s outdoors.”

To realize that vision, Faleide created a central, main-floor space, with an adjacent kitchen and dining area a level down, opening onto a courtyard complete with outdoor dining room, an indoor-outdoor living room, and a lap pool. “It was really built to enjoy the light, the sky, the breeze, what it meant to be in Colorado,” he says. “In the summer the glass goes away so this becomes part of the courtyard and transitions into an outdoor kitchen.”

The design achieves energy efficiency through four targeted heating systems. “We take advantage of the solar gate, with return-air grilles that pull heat off the top of the room and warm the upper-level bedrooms, and a boiler system that heats the floors. My family originally comes from a farm. The farmhouse was big, with sleeping porches and an upstairs that nobody lived in in the winter. It had a huge, country kitchen with a day bed Grandma used to sleep in. The idea was, you don’t have to live in the whole house the same way throughout the year.”

After World War II, Faleide says, that concept changed. “We started to expect that you could walk around anywhere in your house without a sweater in the dead of winter. In this house, I’m not going to sit in the courtyard right now because it’s cold but I can sit here in the glow of the sunshine. Even when it’s 15 degrees, we don’t need the heat on. When it gets chilly at night, we move to the old living room where the fireplace is. I think as a society we’ve lost our connection to the environment as we insulate ourselves.”

Rosenthal, a Delaware native, graduated from Case Western Law School and interned in Washington, DC, before landing a job covering the congressional tax-writing committees with a publisher called Tax Analyst, for the next five years. The couple relocated to Denver from Old Towne Alexandria, Virginia, in 1994. “It was a career and lifestyle decision,” Rosenthal says. “The DC area was very expensive and really hard to get a sense of community. When we decided we wanted to get married and start a family, Ron had been here in the 1980s and really liked the environment.”

“It was about finding a sense of place,” Faleide adds. “Being able to gather our neighbors at our house and really become infused into the whole social as well as physical place. We like to walk over to Gaylord Street like everybody else. We take our little electric, remote-control boat with our son and go to the lake, how can you beat that?”

In Denver, Rosenthal initially worked for another publisher and is currently ghost-writing a memoir. Her proximity to Swallow Hill (located at 71 E. Yale Ave. – see swallowhillmusic.org) revived a lifelong interest in singing. “I’ve taken a bunch of classes and am usually involved in doing something there. I take voice lessons from an awesome woman and I’m in a Monday night group lesson that’s all women and really fun. And Ron gave me a mandolin for the holidays.”

Faleide grew up playing piano and guitar. “Kids would drop by and we’d play music together. I started my first band in fifth grade. The house was built to capture and enhance the sound of music, although the concerts were a later, happy coincidence. I still play a lot and do all kinds of recording and our son (graduating from Kent Denver School this year) has gotten involved in the school’s Quincy Avenue Rhythm Band, performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzer-land and the Porretta Soul Festival in Italy this summer.”

The house concerts began in 2010 when a Swallow Hill board member approached Rosenthal to see if she’d consider hosting an event for a visiting artist looking to round out his weekend. “It was amazing, and I was hooked. There’s so much music out there, so much talent. If you don’t get on the radio, if you’re independent and you don’t want to work with an agent, then you’re also regarded as a big risk. My real challenge is to find people who are not playing at Swallow Hill, mostly by word of mouth. When an artist performs here, I ask them to give me some names and that’s been very helpful.”

The couple hosts concerts four to five times a year. Winter performances accommodate about 40 people indoors; the count climbs to 60 in the summer when chairs can be set up in the courtyard. “This is really about creating a sense of neighborhood around the music we love,” Faleide says. “It’s a potluck deal, and many times the concerts are filled with neighbors from East Wash Park. Now they’ve become part of our social life. The week before last we went to dinner downtown with two couples we didn’t know before the house concerts.”

Rosenthal announces concerts by email to an ever-expanding list of enthusiasts. “My view is that Ron created this really powerful space and so I try to use it the way it wants to be used. People come in and say, wow, it just makes me feel good to be in here. So it’s become this incredible gathering place, really.”

The couple also host political fundraisers, and Rosenthal has been involved in, and books tours for, Skylite Station, an emerging Art District on Santa Fe venue featuring a wide range of creative endeavors. “Skylite is the vision of our neighbor, Jim Mercado,” Rosenthal says. “Ron and Jim have worked together and he’s been to our concerts. Since I’m the one who organizes them, he asked if I’d be interested in doing the booking for Skylite Station. The cool thing about that space is, it’s in a nonprofit complex called 910Arts (910 Santa Fe Dr.). Skylite is this central space, ensconced in lofts and studios that provide affordable work and housing space for artists. It’s kind of industrial, with great acoustics. It has a full bar and is also a multi-purpose art gallery.”

Recent acts have included an art, theatrical, and multi-media production by musical and visual artist Maxwell Vision, and Venues Goes Down, a series of art, poetry and related events exploring the divine feminine and culminating inA Myth for the New Millennium, involving poetry, dance, story and song. “It’s put together by a friend of mine, Nancy Hart, and I’m writing poetry and performing as part of that group. It’s been the most incredible opportunity for every kind of creativity you can imagine.”

Opening their home to neighbors and music continues to celebrate the community they’ve grown to cherish. “I just feel incredibly fortunate to be here,” Rosenthal says. “My family is still back in Delaware, my parents are getting older, and every once in a while I think, well, would we want to relocate? We actually checked out some properties at Christmas, but no. I love that I can work from home. There’s a strong part of me that really likes to have my world within this small, amazing neighborhood. There aren’t many places where you can just walk down the street and check in on people. Really, this is home."

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