Moab Music Festival to take listeners from France to Venezuela

27th season begins on the the 26th

A musician offers open arms to the landscape overlooking canyon country. This year’s festival will conclude Sept. 12 with a river trip, however the final performance in Moab will be Sept. 8 with Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, an evening-length performance at Grand County High School. Now 100 years old, the narrative will be told through music and dance. Photo courtesy Moab Music Festival

The Moab Music Festival begins its 27th season under the theme, “A Trip To France, Brazil, Venezuela, and Back.” Concerts will be spread from Aug. 26 to Sept. 12.

“The sensual rhythms of South America and harmonies of 1920s Paris take the stage along with the ruggedly stunning desert of southeast Utah and the world-class artists of the Moab Music Festival,” said a statement from festival organizers in a recent press release.

“Patrons will experience performances set in a variety of spectacular outdoor venues along the Colorado River, in the charming and historic Star Hall, local ranches, on musical hikes, rafting adventures, and in intimate gatherings and salons, all surrounded by the majestic sky, the Colorado River, and blazing red rock cliffs — the quintessential backdrop for the musical ride of a lifetime. Performances celebrate the wildly diverse and unifying spirit of music-making found all over the globe and throughout history with a dazzling inaugural Cabaret evening, South American-inspired programs, explorations of the ‘taboo’ musical compositions that transformed Paris in the early 20th century, and a poignant look at war through the eyes and ears of Stravinsky.”

A Westwater musical raft trip will take off Monday, Aug. 26, featuring “sultry rhythms from Argentina and Venezuela in daily musical offerings which include exuberant Joropos, Merengues, and ballads. This adventure returns to Moab on Aug. 28 in time for the first grotto concert,” said festival organizers.

A jet boat trip will occur Aug. 29 for the first of MMF’s three grotto concerts. The first grotto concert will feature performances of Brahms’ Zwei Gesange performed with the instrumentation of two violas and voice, Schumann’s Märchenbilder, a rendition of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, and Mindoka, written and performed by violist Kenji Bunch. The concert will be topped off with Brazilian songs with composer-in-residence Clarice Assad and her father, Brazilian guitarist Sergio Assad.

The Moab Music Festival performs in its signature “Grotto” location in a natural alcove on the banks of the Colorado River. The festival will host three Grotto concerts this season, the first of which will be Aug. 29 featuring selections by Brahms, Bach and Composer-in-Residence Clarice Assad and her father, Brazilian guitarist Sergio Assad. Photo courtesy Moab Music Festival

On Aug. 30 at 7 p.m., MMF presents Home From War, inspired by the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice. “This specially curated program looks at the complexities of war as a human experience through poetry and the music of Ives, Debussy, Mahler, Novelo, Weil, Bernstein, Blitzstein, folk singer Pete Seeger and others,” said the press release.

“The evening’s line-up includes a masterful collection of vocal works performed by Andrew Garland and Kara Dugan with Peter Dugan and Co-Founder and Music Director Michael Barrett at the piano.” The pieces look at war from a variety of perspectives; a view from a child’s eyes, a path in a soldier’s shoes, the restlessness and sorrow of those left behind. “In addition, guests can look forward to hearing Bowen’s Fantasia for 4 Violas, as well as ‘Jupiter’ by Holst, and movements from Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor which rounds out the evening.” Preceding the concert is a talk with pianist Dugan and Music Director Barrett.

On Aug. 31 adventurers will set off on Music Hike I at 8 a.m. Hikers will venture to a secret location in anticipation of a private chamber concert of string music featuring works by Grawemeyer winning composer Kaija Saariaho, Kodaly, J.S. Bach and Kenji Bunch. Naturalist guides from the Canyonlands Field Institute will lead the hikes while the performers lead the musical journey. The event is not suitable for children under 12 years of age. The hike requires a moderate level of stamina, agility and comfort with uneven footing and potentially some exposure on slick rock. Hiking/trail shoes are required. Comfortable outdoor clothing for a desert environment is recommended. Hiking poles are welcome, organizers say.

On Aug. 31, the event will head to Red Cliffs Lodge for a concert entitled, Tango Meets Joropo, an evening of Latin music from Venezuela and Argentina in all its forms. Latin GRAMMY winner Pedro Giraudo and his tango quartet will join forces with Festival flutist Marco Granados and his Trio to spice up the night. Finally, the MMF Strings close the South American inspired musical evening in a fiery finale of lusty dance rhythms and Venezuelan favorites.

See next week’s edition of The Times-Independent as the festival continues through Sept. 12.