The relaxed ambience and the intimate setting of the Shrine of the Ages, with its glorious acoustics, make this series the perfect place for both seasoned aficionados and first-time concert-goers to experience the world’s greatest music performed by some of the world’s finest musicians.
The festival opens the weekend of Friday, Sept. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 11, with the Calder Quartet and the debut of Chickasaw Jerod Impichaachaaha’Tate, the Native American Composers Apprentice Project (NACAP) composer-in-residence. The NACAP is the festival’s heralded outreach program, with student composers from the Hopi and Navajo Nations. The world premieres of these students’ new works for string quartet will be performed by the award-winning Calder String Quartet in pre-concert recitals beginning at 7 p.m. each evening.
The Calder Quartet, with their stunning combination of traditional chamber music and the avant-garde, also perform quartets of Haydn, Mozart, Shostakovich, Bartok, Debussy, and Beethoven’s incomparable late quartet, Opus 130, complete with its original Grosse Fugue finale.
The Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo return to the festival for a Latin-flavored guitar recital Wednesday, Sept. 15. The acclaimed guitarists Michael Newman and Laura Oltman are joined by flutist Clare Hoffman in a program of the music of Spain, Mexico and Argentina, by de Falla, Albeniz, Piazzolla, Ponce and Sarasate.
On Friday, Sept. 17, the Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo, with the Calder String Quartet – and McCourt, reading from “Angela’s Ashes” and “’Tis” – perform the Arizona premiere of Laments and Dances, From the Irish, composed for them by Arnold Black. Black’s delightful suite incorporates Celtic themes of the blind 17th century Irish troubadour Turlough O’Carolan, and features a mixture of laments, jigs and reels and the infectious writing of McCourt presented in his own inimitable style. The program is rounded out with the Guitar Duo joined by festival co-founders harmonica player Robert Bonfiglio and flutist Clare Hoffman, providing a generous selection of other Celtic works by O’Carolan, Seamus Egan, and Ivers and Keane.
On Saturday, Sept. 18, the Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo presents works by young, contemporary American composers in a program entitled The New Americans. Composers include Lowell Liebermann, Dusan Bogdanovic, Rami Vamos and Randall Avers, followed by a repeat performance of Laments and Dances, From the Irish, with Frank McCourt and the Calder String Quartet.
Harmonica wizard Robert Bonfiglio, along with the brilliant young master of the eclectic electric violin Joe Deninzon, and acclaimed New York studio guitarist, composer and vocalist Chris Milletari, make a return visit to Flagstaff’s historic Orpheum Theatre on Monday, Sept. 20. Their upbeat sound combines jazz, rock, blues, folk, Latin, world and classical music in surprising, high-energy performances. The Bonfiglio Group returns to the Grand Canyon for an (almost) repeat performance of this perennial crowd-pleaser on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
The multi-instrumentalist Nokuthula Ngwenyama (viola, violin) and pianist Melvin Chen headline the festival’s final weekend, Friday, Sept. 24 and Saturday, Sept. 25, with Bonfiglio joining on the harmonica. Friday evening, expanding on the “musical chairs” theme in J. S. Bach’s Concerto in C Minor, Bonfiglio takes the oboe part, Ngwenyama the violin, and Chen the orchestra. Sonatas by Faure and Brahms complete the program.
These artists close out the 21st season Saturday with works by Debussy, Grieg and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Three American Sketches for harmonica and strings, written by the legendary record producer George Martin, sometimes called “the fifth Beatle” for his contributions to that most innovative band of the 60s. Robert Bonfiglio and Melvin Chen perform it at the Grand Canyon in the series finale.
Grand Canyon Music Festival is sponsored by Grand Canyon National Park and is supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts with funding from the state of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts. Partial funding is provided by Arizona ArtShare, the state arts endowment fund, through public and private contributions.
Funds for the Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo residency have been provided by Chamber Music America with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Chamber Music America Residency Endowment Fund. Funding has also been received from the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and the National Endowment for the Arts.
NACAP receives major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arizona Public Service Foundation and the Compton Foundation. Major funding has been provided by generous contributions from AirStar Helicopters, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, and Elizabeth Smith through the Ralph Smith Foundation. The festival continues to receive, and is grateful for, the abundant support of our many local and regional business sponsors and individual patrons.
Individual tickets for Grand Canyon concerts are $18 for adults, $8 for children and students. Season tickets for all eight Grand Canyon concerts are $112 for adults, $64 for children and students. Organizers ask that children attending be at least six years old.
Tickets for the Tuesday, Sept. 21, performance at the Orpheum in Flagstaff are $15 each.
Complete programming and ticket details can be found on the festival’s Web site, www.grandcanyonmusicfest.org