“Our 21st season celebrates a new generation of instrumentalists and singer/songwriters, while paying homage to the ancient characteristics of the Moab landscape, the original people of America, and musical masterpieces,” festival co-founder Michael Barrett said in a news release. “I think we’ve found a fabulous balance of youthful energy and history. And of course the red-rock landscape always seems to give our concerts an added depth we can find only here.”
The festival kicks off Thursday, Aug. 29, with the first of three Grotto Benefit Concerts. These events, which are fundraisers for the festival, begin with a 40-minute boat trip down the winding Colorado River, and then a concert held in a natural stone grotto downstream. The concert will feature music by John Musto, Brahms, and Franz Schubert.
Opening Night, Friday, Aug. 30, at historic and recently renovated Star Hall features a variety of works, including a film, “Self-Portrait,” by festival cellist Nick Canellakis with music by festival pianist Michael Brown; a world premiere by Carla Kihlstedt, and works by Sergei Prokofiev, and Johannes Brahms.
On Saturday, Aug. 31, at 11a.m. at Star Hall, a free open rehearsal for Sunday evening’s concert is available. Reservations are required. That evening, Red Cliffs Lodge hosts “The Future of American Song,” featuring Gabriel Kahane, and Carla Kihlstedt and Mathias Bossi of Rabbit Rabbit Radio, who will perform original songs that draw from popular and classical music, and American folk idioms.
On Sunday, Sept. 1, participants in the festival’s Music Hike will be shuttled to a “secret location” followed by a short hike to a natural concert hall where a string trio will perform Dohnanyi Serenade Op. 10, and a Mozart Duo for violin/viola. Later that evening, an outdoor concert at Red Cliffs Lodge will feature music rooted in the legacy of America’s native people whose lives were centered on the earth and their relationship to it. The concert features works by Kenji Bunch, Russell Goodluck and a World Premiere by Juantio Becenti.
“American Songs Then and Now” is the theme on Monday, Sept. 2, for the free annual Labor Day Rocky Mountain Power Family Picnic Concert in Old City Park. The program includes a look at American song heritage of the last 300 years, including traditional folk songs and songs by Bolcom, Bernstein, Ives, Gershwin, Carla Kihlstedt, and others.
On Tuesday, Sept. 3, the festival’s Ranch Benefit Concert will feature performances by guitarist and singer/songwriter Matt Munisteri and Mazz Swift (violin/vocals).
The festival’s House Benefit Concert on Wednesday, Sept. 4 includes an evening of fine food, good wine and chamber music masterworks by Janáček, Mendelssohn, and Michael Brown.
The season’s second Colorado River Grotto Concert on Thursday, Sept. 5 includes the haunting Faure Violin Sonata in A Major, No. 1, Op. 13, along with works by Mozart and Brahms.
On Friday, Sept. 6, the concert on the banks of the Colorado River at Sorrel River Ranch will include works by Astor Piazzolla and Anton Arensky.
The season’s second free Open Rehearsal is on Saturday morning Sept. 7 at Star Hall. That evening, the festival returns to Sorrel River Ranch for the Pedrito Martinez Group, featuring Ariacne Trujillo, an ensemble with its roots planted in the Afro-Cuban Rumba tradition and the bata rhythms and vocal chants of the music of Yoruba and Santeria.
Sunday, Sept. 8 offers the second Music Hike for a program called “Rhapsodies and Rhythms: Old World Melodies in the Americas.”
Closing night at Star Hall on Sept. 8, the final in-town event of the 21st season, highlights a forgotten masterpiece by Neils W. Gade, his Octet, Op. 17, and Max Reger’s rarely-heard Piano Quartet.
Monday, Sept. 9, features the third and final Colorado River Grotto Concert. The program will include Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, and the Suite for solo viola in E-flat major, BWV 1010.
The festival will also offer a four-day, three-night custom river raft trip on the Colorado River. The trip begins with the Sept. 9 Grotto Concert and features intimate concerts performed by world-class musicians in unforgettable river settings. A local naturalist will join the expedition to lead a series of short, scenic hikes, as well as provide insight into the history and geology of Canyon Country.
For more information about the festival or to purchase tickets for the 21st Moab Music Festival, visit www.moabmusicfest.org or call the box office at 435-259-7003. Tickets are also available at the festival office, 58 East 300 South, in Moab.