Festival salutes peace theme in final week

Having a ball at Labor Day concert

A youngster standing in the creek at Old City Park tosses a beach ball to a friend at Monday’s free Rocky Mountain Power-sponsored concert, part of the Moab Music Festival, which concludes this week. Photo by Doug McMurdo

The Moab Music Festival continues this week with concerts at the newly opened HooDoo Hotel, Star Hall, Sorrel River Ranch and high school auditorium.

What is being billed as an “inaugural hotel cabaret” will take place at 8 p.m. on Sept. 5 at the HooDoo. “This sophisticated evening is for lovers of great American song from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s,” said festival organizers. “Siren Kim Hawkey’s elegance, wit and charm are accompanied by the kaleidoscopic versatility of the multi-genre Elvanelle Band.”

The festival continues its commitment to the community and educational outreach with two performances for local middle and high school children on Sept. 6 beginning at 9 a.m . Moab students are invited to take a seat for the theatrical L’Histoire du Soldat with a cast of chamber players, narrator, and a dancer, conducted by Michael Barrett. “Stravinsky’s tour-de-force tells the dramatic tale of a soldier who makes a deal with the devil in exchange for great wealth and love,” said festival organizers.

Tessa Lark plays the violin at Monday’s Labor Day concert at Old City Park. Photo by Doug McMurdo

On Sept. 6 at 7 p.m., Star Hall will host “A Paris Revue,” a trip into a 1920s Parisian arrondissement “for an evening of music filled with the magnetic joie-de-vivre that only the French can emulate. Paris was a city of creative vibrancy in the early 20th century when musicians confidently rejected romanticism, and prolific composers explored musical expression with jazz idioms, neo-classicism, and a spirited irreverence in their works. The sparkling evening turns the arches of Moab into the Arc de Triomphe in this musical parfait!” said organizers.

An open rehearsal will be held on Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. Concert-goers are invited behind the curtain and into a room where the music is made. Musicians will prepare Brahms’ String Sextet No. 2 and Piano Quintet No. 5.

The festival will move to Sorrel River Ranch to welcome back the Matt Munisteri Band for Bix and Friends: A Celebration of Jazz-Age Genius on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. Matt and his band will celebrate the music of the Jazz-age genius, Bix Beiderbecke. “Legendary among the musicians of his day, Beiderbecke was cornetist, pianist, and composer with a distinct sound, lyrical panache, and a unique improvisational flair that ended up being the definitive style of the Jazz Age,” said organizers.

Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat bookends the 27th season when it comes to a close with an evening-length performance on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in Star Hall. Now 100 years old, the narrative receives a fresh treatment from Pulitzer and Grammy Award-winning librettist Mark Campbell, who puts a contemporary spin on this Faustian story. “What happens when you sell your fiddle in exchange for wealth? What if the buyer happens to be the embodiment of evil: Satan?” organizers ask. Much of the story will be told through dance by notable choreographer Joshua Bergasse who also directs. The original band of seven instruments will perform all of Stravinsky’s music.

The final Grotto Concert is Sept. 9 at noon when audiences board a jet boat down the Colorado River one last time this season to what musicians call “the acoustically perfect Grotto” for a concert exploring the power of two. “The larger-than-life, cutting-edge composer Andy Akiho’s Deciduous, written for percussion and violin, will be heard alongside a Mozart 4-hand piano sonata and Schubert’s Sonatina, written for piano and violin. Also on the program will be selections from Mahler’s Ruckertlieder and a performance by composer/cellist Clancy Newman of his own work, Trance Music.

Finally, a four-day, three-night Cataract Musical Raft Trip will return on Sept. 12. This enterprise is a custom trip down the Colorado River complete with rafting, swimming, hiking and time for personal rest and relaxation. River guides will lead attendees for one and a half days of Class III and IV rapids, making the trip possible for multiple skill levels. Along with days and nights of outdoor adventure, patrons will hear concerts of chamber music and original compositions from MMF composers, under the wide-open desert sky.