The nationally-renowned Grand Canyon Music Festival opens its 22nd season of award-winning programs of mostly chamber music next Wednesday in a series of concerts at Shrine of the Ages and a special Sunday afternoon family concert in Tusayan.
The casual and intimate setting of the Shrine, with its superb 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.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the Festival opens with The Bonfiglio Group Festival Founding Director Robert Bonfiglio on harmonica, Joe Deninzon on violin and Chris Milletari on guitar.
Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as the "Paganini of the harmonica," Bonfiglio has performed harmonica concertos with the world's leading orchestras. On opening night he explores his other musical side, the world of blues, jazz and rock and roll.
This year, as part of the Grand Canyon Music Festival's "Mosaico Latinoamericano" celebration on Friday, Sept. 9, Saturday, Sept. 10 and Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Bonfiglio Group will delve more deeply into the music of Latin America, with Brazilian chorus and sambas and Afro-Cuban styles added to their mix of blues and popular genres.
Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17, the festival's second weekend, features the return of the Calder Quartet Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook on violin, Jonathan Moerschel on viola and Eric Byers on cello. The west-coast group presents music from the old guard to the avant-garde.
On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, the string band Ethel performs. Members are Ralph Farris on viola, Dorothy Lawson on cello and Todd Reynolds and Mary Rowell on violin.
Hailed by The New York Times as "Extraordinarily skilled, passionate musicians," this 21st-century incarnation of the classical string quartet model brings to its music an exciting, beautiful and rare combination of tastes and talents that have developed from each member's unique experiences in the music world. Ethel creates their programs on the spot, inspired by their environment, drawing from their rich repertoire, and enhanced by their own improvisational skills.
Ethel is also quartet-in-residence for NACAP 2005, which, since its founding in 2001, has become one of Grand Canyon Music Festival's most popular events.
The members of Ethel and composers-in-residence Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (Chickasaw) and Raven Chacon (Navajo) coach aspiring young composers talented music students from northern Arizona's Navajo, Hopi and Maricopa Pima Indian Reservation high schools in a rigorous program in the art of composing for string quartet.
The students' finished compositions are premiered and recorded at the Grand Canyon Music Festival during pre-concert recitals beginning at 6 p.m., and will be featured in programs on an outreach tour Sept. 19-26 to 10 Arizona schools.
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.
Mosaico Latinoamericano is supported in part with funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts through appropriations from the Arizona State Legislature and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Funds for Ethel's NACAP residency have been provided by Chamber Music America with support from The Helen F. Whitaker Fund and the Chamber Music America Residency Endowment Fund. Grand Canyon Music Festival is a member of Chamber Music America. NACAP receives major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arizona Public Service Foundation and the Compton Foundation.
Funding has also been received from WESTAF, the Western States Arts Federation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Major funding for the Festival is also provided by generous contributions from Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Yamaha USA, Cynthia and Norman Lawrence, Elizabeth Smith through the Ralph Smith Foundation, and Canyon Plaza Quality Inn and Suites/ Mountain Ranch Resort.
Tickets for concerts at the Shrine are $25 each for adults, $8 for students and children six years old and above. Season tickets for all eight Grand Canyon concerts are $160 for adults, $64 for children and students. Festival organizers ask that no children under six attend, out of consideration for the musicians and audience. Tickets for the Tusayan Shindig Sunday Family Concert are $15 each. Under the family plan, parents pay $8 for the first child and $1 each for all others.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 800-997-8285 or 928-638-9215, or visit www.grandcanyonmusicfest.org.