North Denver Woman Helps Relaunch Music Appreciation Society

MAS Presents High-Caliber Musicians in Intimate Settings

By Jacqui Somen

Note: This story has been corrected to reflect the names of local musicians performing with Quinn DeVeaux. They are Kate Hannington, Paul DeHaven and Mark Anderson.

Denver is a music city. On any given night, we can see headlining acts at world-class venues like Red Rocks, DPAC and Mission Ballroom, but what we have less access to are high-caliber musicians performing in intimate settings. That’s precisely the void that Music Appreciation Society (MAS) has been designed to fill. 

MAS is a 501(c)(3) founded in 2015 by Denver real estate executive David Spira, who said, “I was inspired by my frequent travel to bring artists to Denver that weren’t otherwise including the city on their tour routes. I wanted to increase the diversity of music available here and present the music in a more stripped-down environment than is typically found.” 

Like many close-knit gatherings, MAS took a hiatus starting in 2020. This year, they’re back under the leadership of Managing Director Elizabeth Irby. Irby is a North Denver resident with a background in live music and energy efficiency finance — she’s been tour manager for an international string chamber orchestra, holds a master’s degree in music business from Berklee College of Music and launched a music nonprofit in San Francisco that worked to increase revenue streams for local artists. Now, she brings her expertise and passion for stimulating local music scenes to Denver. 

Elizabeth Irby, managing director of MAS, pictured with Darius Coldiron, sponsor representative from LoopNet. Photo by Amanda Tipton

Irby thinks this is an exciting time for Denver arts and culture. “There are a lot of energized people bringing compelling experiences and alternative concepts to life, but there is still room to grow, particularly on the live music front,” she said.

“There are not many places, as found in some other big cities,” Irby continued, “where you can catch an accomplished blues and soul singer one night and a Celtic harpist the next, and do so in an intimate and engaged setting.”

Image by Amanda Tipton Photography | FB- Amanda Tipton-Photographer | IG – @amandatiptonphotography

MAS relaunched their programming Feb. 15 with a show by Jolie Holland. Holland is a talented musician whose presence calms and voice mesmerizes. Her work has gained praise from the likes of Tom Waits and Lou Reed. Her February show was the first time she has played in Denver since 2014.

Like all of MAS’s upcoming 2024 performances, Holland’s show took place at The Savoy, a charming space in RiNo that allows for craft cocktails, pre-show conversation and the ability to enjoy exceptional musicians with little frills. “So often concerts are about the spectacle, but we want to present shows in a way in which the music is the main attraction,” said Irby. 

I attended Holland’s show (thanks to a generous comp by MAS) last month, during which the musician’s elevated talent was indeed the main attraction. The room was full of people who were excited about music. Like myself, they may never have heard of Jolie Holland before, but by the time the first song ended, everyone was captivated.

Upcoming MAS performances include cellist, pianist and vocalist Gabriel Royal; blue beat guitarist and vocalist Quinn DeVeaux; composer, conductor and multi-instrumentalist David Amram; and Celtic harpist Maeve Gilchrist.

Denver-based musicians will also take the stage in several MAS shows. DeVeaux will perform with local musicians Kate Hannington, Paul DeHaven and Mark Anderson. Hugh Ragin and Yumi Hwang Williams will play alongside Amram.

No matter your music interests, there is an opportunity for exploration with MAS. 

As DeVeaux said, “Can’t sleep on the Denver music scene.”

Visit for the full 2024 calendar.

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