Music Festival's 23rd season starts Saturday

The music of Mozart, Brahms, Vivaldi and more will mark the opening of the Grand Canyon Music Festival's 23rd season this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Ages.

Joining festival co-founder and artistic director, flutist Clare Hoffman, are Yulia Ziskel and festival regular Joe Deninzon on violin, and Joy Cline Phinney on piano.

These artists join other world-class performers ­ including harmonica virtuoso and festival co-founder Robert Bonfiglio, the Miami String Quartet and the innovative string band Ethel ­ for a three-week series that spans a range of styles from baroque to bluegrass to blues.

The festival also features the debut of student works from the Native American Composers Project ­ an outreach of the festival to reservation schools where composers work with gifted students to prepare their pieces for performance.

The music festival's roots go back to 1983, as when while on a Canyon hike, Bonfiglio and Hoffman gave an impromptu concert at Cottonwood Campground for a retiring ranger. The following year, they launched the inaugural season with three concerts. That has grown to the popular three-week series that sees the return of faithful audiences each year.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for children ages six and up. Season tickets are also available. They are $96 for adults, $64 for children ages six and up. No children under age six, please. Tickets for residents of Grand Canyon and Tusayan are $10 each for adults, $8 for students and children.

All concerts are at the Shrine of the Ages, except for the Tusayan Shindig, which is held at the Quality Inn.

About the aritsts

Robert Bonfiglio is founding director of the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Called "the Paganini of the Harmonica" by the Los Angeles Times, he has performed worldwide with his constant reinvention of the harmonica, from classical concertos to sizzling blues. He performs with the world's top orchestras, including the Minnesota, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Oregon and Utah Symphonies, the Los Angeles and Brooklyn Philharmonics, the Boston Pops with John Williams on PBS, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with John Mauceri. His RCA recording of the Villa-Lobos Harmonica Concerto was released to critical acclaim and his "Through the Raindrops" CD remained on the pop billboard charts for nine months. He holds a masters degree in composition from Manhattan School of Music, studying with Charles Wuorinen and, as the first recipient of the Mihaud Scholarship at the Aspen Music School, Aaron Copland. He studied harmonica with Chamber Huang and Andrew Lolya. Upcoming projects include a new work written for him by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec.

Clare Hoffman is the Music Festival's co-founder and artistic director. She has toured the United States, Europe and Asia, performing on the flute in a variety of settings from major concert halls to an ancient ampitheatre on the Greek island of Rhodes. Recent engagements include the Berkshire Bach Society (Tanglewood), Bang on a Can Festival (Lincoln Center), Cutting Edge (New York City, Victoria Bond, director), Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra (Lincoln Center's Great Performers series), Scandia Symphony, and Bronx Arts Ensemble. Her 2001-2002 season included working with Music Givers, an organization founded by musicians after Sept. 11 to offer their talents to the relief efforts in the New York City area. Her arrangement of John Corigliano's "Voyage" for flute and string quintet is published by Schirmer. She studied at the Mannes College of Music (Bachelor of Music) with Andrew Lolya, at L'École d'Été in France with legendary French flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion, and with Samuel Baron and Julius Baker.

Raven Chacon is the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project 2006 Composer-in-Residence. Originally from Chinle, on the Navajo Nation, Chacon is one of the few Native American avant-garde and experimental composers working in the world today. A graduate of the University of New Mexico and the California Institute of the Arts, he has recorded many works for classical and electronic instruments and ensembles. He has also studied and worked with notable composers such as James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, and Wadada Leo Smith.

Joe Deninzon has established himself as a versatile, on-demand violinist, mandolin player and composer. A musician who transcends many genres, he has recorded and performed with a variety of artists including Sheryl Crow, Everclear, Smokey Robinson, Johnny Mathis, Les Paul, Phoebe Snow and Robert Bonfiglio. Deninzon has recently made his film scoring debut with the soundtrack for "What's Up Scarlet" (Open City Entertainment). He has appeared in Lincoln Center's Meet the Artist program, as a soloist with the New York Chamber Orchestra, has performed on MTV and at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and has played for former President Bill Clinton. Deninzon has been hailed by critics as "The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin" because of his innovative style on the electric six and seven-string violin and his compositions combining jazz, rock, and world music. He and his band, Stratospheerius, have released three CDs to international acclaim and were recently named "Best Jam Band" in the Musician's Atlas 2005 Independent Music Awards.

Ethel features Ralph Farris on viola, Dorothy Lawson on cello, Cornelius DuFallo on violin and Mary Rowell on violin. The group has stretched itself far past the limits of genre and style to embrace a music that arises from the context of our time. Since the group's appearance on the scene in 1998, Ethel has brought to its music an exciting, beautiful and rare combination of tastes and talents that has developed from each member's unique experiences in the music world. Members of Ethel have performed and recorded with Bang on a Can, CONTINUUM, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York Chamber Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Steve Reich Ensemble, and with artists Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, Yo-Yo Ma and many others. Ethel's penchant for improvisation and theater is instrumental to its group philosophy and aesthetic. One distinctive programming option uses improvisation to weave composed pieces together, creating a seamless, flowing concert experience. The group has performed, collaborated and recorded with such as artists as Joe Jackson, Rickie Lee Jones, Dick Connette and "Blue" Gene Tyranny, and is featured on film scores by Don Byron and Bennie Wallace. Their debut album, Ethel, is on the Cantaloupe label.

Chris Milletari is a composer, guitarist and vocalist who has worked as a studio musician in New York City for the last 20 years. He has been plugged in to the Brazilian/Cuban music scene recently, playing with Enrique Lopez, Café and Carlos de Rivera. Milletari has composed music for "The Little Mermaid" television show, and for the film "The Man in the Moon Takes a Night Off." He has made recordings with Andy Waterman, Los Angeles music and film producer, as well as for Disney, HBO, "That 70's Show" and "101 Dalmatians."

Adam Overton is the NACAP's other 2006 Composer-in-Residence. He is a living composer, performance artist, sound artist, and curator based in Los Angeles. His body/mind-based work explores notions of virtuosity, interiority, intimacy, and invisible performance, within the subject and within Western culture, through instrumental and electronic sound performance. He is currently working to finish a book-and-DVD collection of performance texts and writings entitled "i am sediment," set to be published in 2007 with the help of Fifth Planet Press. He studied at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he worked with Christopher Akerlind, Natalie Bookchin, Sande Cohen, Tom Erbe, Charles Gaines, David Rosenboom, Mady Schutzman, James Tenney, Mark Trayle, and many others.

Pianist Joy Cline Phinney is a native of Boulder, Colo., and has appeared in solo and chamber music recitals across the United States and in Europe. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in piano from The Juilliard School, where she studied with William Masselos, Adele Marcus and Samuel Sanders, and a doctor of ensemble arts from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. She made her New York debut in 1990 at Weill Recital Hall with cellist Joshua Gordon. She served as the first Artist-in-Residence and Assistant Director of the Arts Program at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies in Queenstown, Md., and was the inaugural artist in the Tillett Gardens "Arts Alive" concert series in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Whim House Historical Museum series in St. Croix. She has collaborated with many distinguished artists such as Timothy Eddy, Ron Leonard, Peter Stumpf, Phillippe Muller, James Buswell, Lynn Chang, Juliette Kang, Karen Gomyo, Marylou Speaker Churchill, Carol Wincen, and Ann Hobson Pilot. For over a decade, Joy has been an Associate Piano faculty member and continues to perform at the Sarasota (Florida) Music Festival. She was an inaugural member of the Gateways Chamber Ensemble as well as the Aurore Piano Trio. She also serves as a board member of the Boston Symphony's Project STEP (String Training Program for Students of Color).

Yulia Ziskel has established herself as a highly acclaimed solo, chamber and orchestral musician in the United States and around the world. Her activities range from being one of the youngest members of the New York Philharmonic's First Violin section, to numerous international solo and chamber music appearances. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she began her musical training on the violin and piano at age four. She made her solo debut at the age of seven at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall and at age 12 as a soloist with St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra. During her teenage years she has toured extensively, appearing in solo recitals throughout Russia, Germany, Finland, Poland and United States. While in Russia, she was a recipient of the "The New Names" grant, one of the highest honors for young talents. In 1994, Ms. Ziskel's family immigrated to the United States, where she completed her Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University. She received her Master's Degree from the Juilliard School. Ziskel has been praised by the Strad Magazine for "Šthe sweetness of her sound." Her performance at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra's "Meanings of Tchaikovsky" Festival was praised by the New York Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, and by the New Jersey Classical Society Journal. Her awards include first prize in the "Assembly of Arts" International Violin Competition and the Anna Bernstein Memorial Award. Before her appointment to the New York Philharmonic in 2001, Ziskel was a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Yulia Ziskel's debut solo CD on the Sonoris label spans 100 years of great music, performing works by Henryk Wieniawski, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, Eugene Ysaye, Johannes Brahms, and Niccolo Paganini.

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