Birthday bash highlights Music Festival calendar

The Grand Canyon Music Festival continues tonight with a very special program to celebrate the 60th birthday of festival co-founder Robert Bonfiglio.

Rob Paparozzi, vocalist and harmonica player for the Blues Brothers and Blood, Sweat and Tears, joins the Bonfiglio Group (Bonfiglio on harmonica with Joe Deninzon on violin, guitar and mandolin and guitarist Chris Milletari) for Robert Bonfiglio's Big Birthday Bash at 7:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Ages.

On Friday and Saturday, the innovative string band Ethel performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Shrine, with a pre-concert recital debuting 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. This begins at 6:30 p.m. and is included in the ticket price.

Festival founders Bonfiglio and Clare Hoffman had been reaching out to Native American youth in northern Arizona almost since the festival's beginning. In 2001, they added the NACAP to extend its outreach to train talented Native American students in the art of composition and encourage them to pursue a dream of performing professionally.

NACAP develops musical literacy and enhances critical thinking and decision making skills through the study of music composition. It introduces students to European "classical" music techniques, develops their understanding of their own musical heritages and how to develop their own compositional voices.

Composers-in-Residence Raven Chacon (Navajo) and Adam Overton are working with quartet-in-residence Ethel to help and inspire high school students selected for their interest and talent in music.

During a rigorous three weeks each student receives intense one-on-one instruction from and and technique of composition, from inspiration to notation to performance. Subjects covered include comparative discussion of western music theory and composition and oral traditions of indigenous cultures, overview of western and native instruments, music notation, orchestration, and artistic expression.

Student compositions are premiered and recorded during the Grand Canyon Music Festival season, and are the focus of outreach to 10 Navajo and Hopi Reservation schools. Each of the young composers receives a portfolio of their NACAP work, including a professionally copied score and professionally recorded CD.

NACAP has expanded its reach to Maricopa County through partnerships with the Heard Museum (2002), Scottsdale Community College (2003) and Salt River High School (2004-present). NACAP partner schools include Hopi High School, Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Grey Hills Academy, Tuba City High School, Tuba City Boarding School, Second Mesa Day School, Shonto Community Schol, First Mesa Community School, and Grand Canyon School. Past partner schools include Chilchinbeto Community School and the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy.

The NACAP is supported in part by grants from by Ann Stephens at the Compton Foundation, Arizona Public Service Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and WESTAF ‹ the Western States Arts Federation and 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.

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 WESTAF, the Western States Arts Federation, 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. This year's piano is provided by Encore!Artisan Pianos, with transportation courtesy of Dan Ley Piano Moving/Walt's Piano Service.

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