Nokuthula Ngwenyama will perform on the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s opening two nights Sept. 5-6 at the Shrine of the Ages.
It was 1983 when Robert Bonfiglio and Clare Hoffman hiked into the Grand Canyon. While on their trek, the pair performed an impromptu concert below the North Rim at Cottonwood Campground in honor of a retiring backcountry ranger.
From that small informal recital sprang the idea of a concert series at Grand Canyon National Park. Thus, the Grand Canyon Music Festival was born.
With the encouragement of the local community and businesses, the inaugural season took place in September 1984 with three concerts. Within five years, the festival had grown to eight concerts. Over the years, a number of world-class performers have graced the music festival’s stage.
The annual event returns for its 20th season over three weeks beginning Sept. 6.
This year’s event features an impressive lineup of performers, the return of the Native American Apprenticeship Program and another edition of the collectable posters created by artist Ed Mell.
Music festival performances will be staged in the Shrine of the Ages on Sept. 5-6, Sept. 9, Sept. 12-13, Sept. 17 and Sept. 19-20, all of those beginning at 7:30 p.m. A Sept. 16 performance featuring the Bonfiglio Group will bring the concert series to Flagstaff’s newly-renovated Orpheum Theater.
The Native American Composer Apprentice Project pre-concert recitals are scheduled for Sept. 12-13, beginning at 7 p.m.
Performers this year include:
• Nokuthula Ngwenyama (viola, violin).
• Melvin Chen (piano, violin, viola).
• Trio Solisti — Maria Bachmann (violin), Alexis Pia Gerlach (cello) and Jon Klibonoff (piano).
• The Avalon String Quartet — Blaise Mangiere, Marie Wang (violins), Che-yen Chen (viola) and Sumire Kudo (cello).
• The Bonfiglio Group — Robert Bonfiglio (harmonica), Joe Deninzon (violin) and Chris Milletari (guitar).
• Composer-in-residence Brent Michael Davids.
• Festival founders Clare Hoffman (flute) and Bonfiglio (harmonica).
All programs are an eclectic mix of old and new music, classical and popular, including works by JS Bach, Mozart, Janacek, Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Stravinsky, as well as American composers Paul Moravec, William Bolcom, David Amram, Alan Hovhaness, Louis Gottschalk and others.
The Native American Apprenticeship Project will feature original compositions by Native American students from northern Arizona, performed by the award-winning Avalon String Quartet, in recitals one-half hour before the concerts on Sept. 12 and 13.
This year’s festival poster by Mell of Phoenix is titled “Shadow Patterns/Grand Canyon.” Mell has been producing collectors’ posters for the festival since 1985.
Tickets for Grand Canyon concerts are $18 for adults and $8 for children. All tickets for the Flagstaff Orpheum Theater concert on Sept. 16 are $15.
To order tickets and posters, or for more information on the concert or lodging, call 1-800-997-8285. Or information can be found online at: www.grandcanyonmusicfest.org.