“Music in Concert with the Landscape” -- it's a natural. The Moab Music Festival brings together world-class music in exuberant performances by top-flight artists, set amidst the spectacular red rock Canyonlands of southeast Utah. Founded in 1992 by Music Director Michael Barrett (a pianist, conductor, and General Director of New York’s Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts) and Artistic Director Leslie Tomkins (a violist and active chamber musician), the Festival presents up to a dozen concerts during a two-week period every September. Its signature event, recently highlighted on the front page of The New York Times, is the Colorado River Benefit Concert, where one-hundred lucky patrons are transported by jet boat to a naturally-sculpted red rock wilderness grotto on a Colorado River bank. Other stunning locations include the river bank at Onion Creek at the foot of breathtaking Fisher Towers, historic Star Concert Hall, area ranches, and extraordinary private homes.
Known for its distinctive programming, the heart of the award-winning Moab Music Festival is chamber music, ranging from traditional to contemporary. But the Festival also offers a wide variety of folk and jazz, with such artists as multi-Grammy Award-winning clarinetist Paquito d’Rivera (and a National Medal of Arts recipient), the dynamic, young vocalist Darius DeHaas, and Irish singer-songwriter Brendan O’Shea. The programs explore different corners of the repertoire -- the well-loved, the rarely-heard, and the new. The Festival’s concerts have traveled From The French Court To The Cajun Kitchen, taken listeners to the Harlem Renaissance, offered a vivid portrait of women composers through the ages, and answered the question What Makes It American? Its composer-in-residence program has, since 1994, featured such major creative figures as Lukas Foss, Lou Harrison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Richard Danielpour, Peter Lieberson, James Sellars, Chen Yi, and John Musto. The music of each year’s composer, who participates in pre-concert talks and educational activities, is highlighted during several concerts.
In addition to the “main season” in September, the Moab Music Festival also offers a unique benefit event in early June: a four-day/three night rafting trip down the Colorado River, with several concerts in selected sites along the way. The Festival has also just announced two week-long workshops designed to provide an experience of “music in concert with the landscape” for adult amateur musicians, also in June. A small number of amateur musicians will have the opportunity to coach with the professional musicians of the Festival.
The Festival received the Utah Arts Council’s 2002 Governor’s Award in the Arts and the 2003 Adventurous Programming Award conferred by Chamber Music America and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. With its combination of splendid music, world-class artists, and unparalleled landscapes in the adventure capital of the world, the Moab Music Festival offers a unique experience for music lovers and outdoors enthusiasts alike. For additional information, go to www.moabmusicfest.org.