It’s been said that “music, with all its subtlety, has the immense power to unite people.” For Evergreen newcomers and coworkers at Ovation West Performing Arts, Graham and Stefanie Anduri’s parallel life paths and enduring love prove the truth of that adage.
Graham grew up in Fairplay and is a graduate of South Park High School. Stefanie, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School, grew up in Greenwood Village. Culturally, their childhoods were quite different. Ironically, they both studied vocal music at Colorado State University. Graham reveals, “Stefanie and I met during my junior year when friends and family convinced me to become a music major. I will be forever grateful I made that choice!”
Hearing Stefanie sing the title role in Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” (Sister Angelica), a one-act dramatic Italian opera about a young woman forced to take the veil because of an illegitimate liaison, Graham instantly fell in love with both opera and with Stefanie. “It was an incredible experience to hear her sing. I was absolutely blown away by her performance, and although I was dating someone else at the time, I felt a powerful draw to this woman with the power to reduce me to a puddle of tears with her voice,” he says.
For Stefanie, who was both single and singularly focused on studying and performing opera throughout Europe, the idea of falling in love was far from her mind. “When I saw Graham sing during one of our performance classes, somehow I instantly had the idea of marrying him. I was shocked by the thought since I was single and happy about it. I didn’t want any distractions regarding my dream of going to Europe,” recalls Stephanie.
Flirtation started between the two when Graham asked Stefanie out for a beer to help him translate one of his French song assignments. It was then, Stefanie’s adamant dream seemingly unraveled. “I worked up the courage to send Graham a text a few weeks later claiming, I need a study break. Want to go out for that beer? He immediately accepted. We talked until the bar closed at 2 am. I knew I had fallen in love with Graham. I was completely shocked that I let that happen!” she reveals.
Graham admits, “I had recently broken it off with my ex-girlfriend and wasn’t keen on getting immediately involved in another relationship. Over that beer, I experienced feelings I never had for anyone else.” A year and a half after their first date, Graham proposed. Mark the year 2008. One year later, they married in a wedding that both agree replicates “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” “I am 100 percent Greek and both my family and our wedding resemble what was portrayed in the movie. I actually made Graham watch the movie as ‘research’ before meeting my family for the first time! We married in St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Greenwood Village,” Stefanie shares.
Stefanie and Graham both received scholarships to Operafestival di Roma, an opera training program in Rome, Italy. From that experience, both were simultaneously offered graduate teaching assistantships to complete master’s degrees in Vocal Performance at the University of Florida, followed by Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Stefanie adds, “It was right for us to marry when we did. Our lofty dreams to achieve our professional and academic goals were as united as we were, but my educational pursuits were somewhat complicated when our first son, Leonidas (Leo) arrived on February 14, 2013 in the midst of our doctoral coursework. I was juggling my new role as a mom, attending classes, writing my dissertation, and teaching music theory. Graham was completing his course work and working part time teaching voice lessons at another university. Yes, it was stressful, but we were blissfully happy.”
The couple’s second son, Maximos (Max) arrived two years later in Grand Junction where Graham and Stefanie had accepted teaching jobs. Under extreme pressure being new parents, teaching, moving across the country, and finishing their doctorate degrees, the Anduris claim, “Never has it been difficult to keep our relationship intact in spite of external pressure.” Graham adds, “When we experience differences, we center ourselves to reflect on what the other person thinks and feels as we work through our conflict.” Stefanie claims, “We never accuse, scream or demean the other person, claiming they are in the wrong. We agree the conflict is outside of us and work hard to remain humble and trusting as we negotiate the issue through. We realized early on that it is really both of us against a problem, never me against you.”
In early 2020, the Anduris decided to try something off the beaten path. Stefanie explains, “We created a series of vocal workshops that centered on life lessons hidden within singing lessons. We were both teaching at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction at the time. Our workshops were extremely successful until COVID shut everything down. It was a stressful time, but we continued to support one another as we always do. Like everyone else, we pivoted things online and in 2021, we decided to leave our academic positions and start our own business together called Sing For Your Lives. For two years, we coached singers all over the world on how to create purposeful musical careers. We did some amazing things together, but ultimately self-employment was not sustainable for us.” Graham steps in, revealing, “I saw a post seeking an Executive Director for Ovation West Performing Arts in Evergreen. It was a perfect fit for my personal mission, experience, education, and training. I accepted the post on January 1, 2023. Stef remained in Grand Junction so our kids could complete their school year with their friends. I commuted back and forth from Evergreen and Grand Junction for 5 months, which was not much fun, but it was worth the effort.”
The serendipity of the couple’s parallel paths didn’t end there. Almost a year after hiring Graham, the company’s board of directors chose to hire Stefanie as their new Director of Outreach and Education. “Graham and I have known for many years that we had something important to share with the world surrounding music and its ability to create connections and dissolve divisions,” Stefanie shares. “Working with each other at Ovation West Performing Arts, we have an incredible opportunity to use music and theatre to improve people’s lives. We get to do what we love, what we feel called to do. And the best part is that we get to do it together!”
Addressing a common question the two often receive, Graham explains, “A lot of people ask how we can possibly spend so much time together at work and at home and not get sick of each other. I think the fact that we share the same goals for what we would like to accomplish in this life is a huge part of that. But we also really know how to listen to one another and consider what each other really is needing.”
“There’s a synergy between us that is ubiquitous. When something seems to be falling apart, something better always comes along. Everything is aligned between us,” Stefanie claims. “It’s like we share one brain,” Graham adds. “We trust, rely on and support one another no matter the issue. We know we are more powerful together than on our own.”
Graham and Stefanie prove their point throughout the interview. They jointly align their conversation weaving in and out of one another’s thoughts and comments. Syncretistic defines the Anduris, and when asked for their final comment, both weave in and out speaking as one, “We value our relationship above our personal space, thoughts, or feelings. Our self-interests become less important because our unity, support, and love is all that matters.”