In Memorium--Tyme Mientka

TYME MIENTKA: A Life in Music

   Beloved  musician, director of the Western Slope Concert Series and founder and cellist  in the popular Celtic band FEAST, Tyme Mientka, passed away on March 31, 2012,  from cancer.

   Tyme was born on Oct. 23, 1956 in Reno, Nevada to Walter and  Gretel Mientka, and spent his childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska with his siblings  Andy, Becky, and Ben. He loved football and the cello, and during his high  school years loved playing electric bass in his rock band, “Rambunctious”.

   He attended Northwestern  University starting in 1975, having already fallen in love with his future  wife, Kathryn (Catie) Olson, from her photo. He found her the first week of  college and immediately asked her out, but she stubbornly refused to fall in love  with him until their senior year. After graduating in 1979 with a degree in  cello, he attended the University of Southern California where he received his  master’s degree in cello and also married Catie in 1981. The couple moved to  Bozeman, Montana where they both taught music and conducted the chamber  orchestra at Montana State University.   

  Yearning to perform in Europe, two years later they had a  garage sale and sold all their belongings, including the grand piano, and moved  to Germany with nothing but a few dollars to carve out a musical career. Within  months Tyme was directing and performing with his wife in a concert series at a  castle in Fulda, Germany. The Mientka Duo soon attracted the notice of royalty,  including the Prince and Princess of Hannover, and began playing many concerts  throughout Germany, as well as some concerts in Switzerland, France, and Italy.  In 1986, their first child Gabriel was born, followed a few years later by  daughter Stephanie. 

     In 1990, the couple decided to move back to the US to raise  their children. The Mientka Duo continued to tour in Germany and France, and  their last child, Rosemarie, was born in the Minnesota in 1992.  In 1994 the couple was invited to perform at  the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Parts of the concert were later  featured numerous times nationally on NBC’s “Performance Today.” An hour-long  documentary of their touring career was featured nation-wide on PBS in 1995 and  nominated for an Emmy.  This same year  the family moved to Grand Junction, Colorado to raise their kids close to  beautiful nature and home-school them. 

  Gabe had left for Germany to further his cello studies at the  University of Frankfurt, and Stephanie was now pursuing a degree in viola at  the University of Colorado in Boulder on a full merit scholarship. After  graduating she received a full scholarship to Rice University in Texas, which  houses one of the top ten music schools in the US.  Rosie soon left for Seattle to apprentice with the ARC Dance  ballet company, and later with the Nashville Ballet. Tyme was immensely proud  of his three children and loved them deeply. He was a devoted father who spent  many hours with his children, not only teaching them but camping, swimming, and  general goofing around.

     In addition to touring in Europe, Tyme began repairing  stringed instruments as a side-line and, of course, gathered a studio of cello  students.  The difficulties of leaving  three children to tour Europe with his wife became too much, so they decided to  quit touring and confine their performances to the local area. The family moved  to Paonia in 1999 where Tyme and Catie founded the Western Slope Concert Series  and Tyme founded the Valley Youth Orchestra. He conducted the youth orchestra  for two years, and directed and performed in the Concert Series for 12 seasons,  performing in Paonia, Montrose, Cedaredge, and Grand Junction. He also began  playing with the Grand Junction Symphony during this time and was adjunct cello  teacher at Mesa State College. His class of private students was growing, and  he was a passionate and dedicated teacher and was greatly loved by his  students. 

     He was absolutely devoted to his wife, with whom he shared  every musical endeavor. His musical connection with Catie was on a deep  intuitive level, and reflected their immense love for one another. As a  performer he truly played “from the heart” and always gave his total love and  artistic ability to the audience. The beauty of his cello tone was unique and  unmatched. At age 55, his musical talent was in its greatest flowering, and he  leaves behind a deeply grieved family as well as innumerable adoring fans and  students on two continents.

    In 2002 Tyme conducted four performances of The Nutcracker in  collaboration with dance director Barry Trammell. Meanwhile, Tyme was assisting  in home-schooling the three kids and teaching Gabe and Rosie cello, and helping  Stephanie with her viola practice. All three kids were in his youth  orchestras. 

     In 2003, the family decided to move back to Grand Junction so  the kids could get more involved in the artistic activities there. Gabe began  attending Mesa State College, with his father as his cello professor, and was  soon playing in the Grand Junction Symphony. A few years later Gabe won the  symphony competition, making his father/teacher extremely proud.  Daughter Stephanie began performing with the  symphony as well, and Tyme was delighted to be playing in the orchestra with  both his musician children. Meanwhile, Rosie was developing as a ballerina, and  performed with the Oregon Ballet and the Grand Junction Symphony in The  Nutcracker, with father and siblings in the orchestra. A few years later, Tyme  collaborated with the Institute of Dancing Arts in yet another Nutcracker. Tyme  gathered a fantastic orchestra together of music students from Boulder as well  as top local professionals, and conducted while daughter Rosie danced the  starring role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, another very proud moment in this loving  father’s life.

     In 2005, Tyme and Catie decided to “cross over” into another  music genre and started the Celtic band FEAST. The success of this band was a  delightful shock to Tyme, and FEAST performed regularly in Colorado and  garnered many fans. Tyme took great pleasure in playing in an amplified band  setting, and working with his band partners, incredible drummer and co-founder  David Alderdice, of course wife Catie on keyboard, violinist Charles  Hebenstreit, and later harpist Elise Helmke and violinists Audrey Solomon and  Marcin Arendt, and bassist Ben DeKock. Daughter Stephanie often joined the  group on viola, and son Gabe on electric and string bass.

     In 2009 Tyme  and Catie decided to put together a Celtic show with music and dance, and the  subsequent show “Celtica Sinfonia” sold out the Avalon Theatre, Montrose  Pavilion, and Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. The show was filmed  by Rocky Mountain PBS, headed by Greg Mikolai, and aired in 2010. The show featured  the full band FEAST, including daughter Stephanie and son Gabe, and Celtic  dancers as well as ballet dancers. Daughter Rosie danced a beautiful duet to  “Greensleeves” and this marked the first (and only) show that the entire  Mientka family performed in.  In 2010,  the couple produced another show, “Celtica Sinfonia II”, again selling out, and  in 2011 “Celtic Fire”, which later toured New Mexico and southern Colorado.