100 years later, WWI Armistice inspires music fest

Red Cliffs Lodge will be the site of two Moab Music Festival concerts this season. Courtesy photo

The Moab Music Festival began this week with a raft trip Monday, Aug. 26, followed by a concert down the Colorado River Thursday, Aug. 29 in its grotto location. The first festival concert to be held in town this season is Aug. 30 at 7 p.m., when musicians present 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 festival organizers regarding the Friday Star Hall event. The evening’s line-up includes a 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.

Among the wide variety of the festival’s musical offerings this year, the two-week series will conclude its in-town events with another war-themed concert at the Grand County High School auditorium featuring Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, an evening-length performance. One hundred years have past since the origination of the work, which allows for a re-writing to occur, according to festival organizers.

The Pulitzer and GRAMMY™ Award-winning librettist Mark Campbell has completed what festival organizers call a “re-imagining” of L’Histoire du Soldat, which professional dancers have been rehearsing in New York to perform in Moab. The dancers are also actors, portraying the Soldier, the Princess and the Devil. The story will be told through dance, under the direction of notable choreographer Joshua Bergasse, backed by seven instrumental artists performing Stravinsky’s original music.

In between those two armistice-inspired concerts is a variety of other musical offerings. 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 the evening of 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. The concert will begin at 6 p.m.

On Sunday, Sept. 1 the event will remain at Red Cliffs for what organizers call “a high-spirited evening” called Viva Brazil. It will feature festival composer-in-residence singer/pianist Clarice Assad, who will teams up with her father, guitarist Sergio Assad, and Keita Ogawa. They will be joined by the MMF Strings for a world-premiere transcription of Clarice’s Lemuria , which will feature Leslie Tomkins on viola and festival cellist Tanya Tomkins who commissioned the work from Assad.

“Lemuria speaks to a mythical place swallowed up by the seas, and serves as a warning to humankind to respect our planet,” said festival organizers. “What better place to honor nature’s beauty than among the red-hued mesas and buttes of Moab?” they ask.

Old City Park will be the site of the annual Rocky Mountain Power Family Concert on Monday, Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. This free concert is a favorite among the community and is fun for all ages. This year, a program of classic favorites from the last century will be coupled with Venezuelan rhythms. Marco Granados and the lively cuatro band will open the concert with selections from their homeland of Venezuela, followed by Pedro Giraudo and the Tango Quartet.

Sorrel River Ranch will take over as host of the festival on Sept. 3 with a benefit concert. Singer/songwriter Kim Hawkey and her multi-genre band will present melodies from the Great American Songbook and a cocktail hour beginning at 5:30 p.m. and concert at 7 p.m. Selections will allude to Judy Garland and Blossom Dearie with traditional folk music, parlor songs and vintage jazz, backed by horns and a rhythm section. A dinner will be served along with a fireworks display.

The festival will take patrons on a journey to the moon and back in an exclusive salon setting at a house benefit concert on Sept. 4. This recital is located in one of Moab’s private homes for a concert of nostalgic favorites. The program begins with a nod to the jovial side of two masters, Ravel and Bach, and continues with timeless favorites like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ ‘Blackbird,’ ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ served up with some Piazzolla, and a little Lennon/McCartney.

The festival will return to the grotto on Sept. 5 as the event segues into another week. That evening, Moab’s new HooDoo hotel will be host to great American songs from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s.