Grand Canyon Music Festival presenting its 24th season here

Grand Canyon Music Festival presents its 24th season of chamber music - and more - with weekend and mid-week concerts at the Shrine of the Ages. This year's series begins on Labor Day weekend, with concerts on Sept. 1, 2, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15 and 16.

Opening the festival will be Trio Solisti - comprised of violinist Maria Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach and pianist Jon Klibonoff. Described as "consistently brilliant" and "dangerous and radical - and compelling" by the New York Times, the ensemble has earned a national reputation for passionate, committed and adventurous performances marked by exquisite individuality of expression and seamless playing.

On the second night, festival co-founder and creative director Clare Hoffman joins the trio with her flute.

Also, on opening weekend, the festival honors Arizona artists Ruth and John Waddell, long-time friends of the Grand Canyon Music Festival and an inspiration to festival founders Clare Hoffman and Robert Bonfiglio.

This tribute grew from a gift to the music festival of two of John Waddell's bronze relief sculptures from Gary K. and Jeanne L. Herberger.

Serendipitously, Trio Solisti was preparing a weekend of music for the festival centered around Mussorgsky's masterwork "Pictures at an Exhibition." John Waddell's relief sculptures will frame the stage at the Shrine of the Ages, surrounding the musicians as they perform, and audience members will be able to experience a virtual "Pictures at an Exhibition," the art of John and Ruth Waddell on display in the lobby of the Shrine. The Grand Canyon Music Festival plans to sell and/or auction the reliefs to benefit their education outreach programs.

Two performances by the Bonfiglio Group - festival co-founder and harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio, Joe Deninzon on violin and Chris Milletari on guitar - are also scheduled, including the popular Tusayan Shindig, which closes the festival this year on Sunday, Sept. 16.

On the second weekend, the Calder Quartet returns. Featuring Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook on violin, Jonathan Moerschel on viola and Eric Byers on cello, the quartet is named for the great American visual artist Alexander Calder. Taking a cue from their namesake, they boldly search for new ways to stretch the capabilities, combinations and definition of a string quartet. The group highlights its 2006-07 season as The Juilliard School's Graduate Resident Quartet, one of the school's highest distinctions.

Another returning quartet, Ethel, will play the festival's final weekend, opening each evening with a pre-concert recital of compositions created by students in the Native American Composers Project.

Though a traditional string quartet, with Ralph Farris on viola, Dorothy Lawson on cello, and Cornelius DuFallo and Mary Rowell on violin, their performances are anything but.

Said the Los Angeles Times, "They own their music, and when they want it to roar, they roar."

Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for children six and up. Parents are asked not to bring children under six to the nightly performances, though the Tusayan Shindig on Sept. 16 is for all ages.

There is a discount for Grand Canyon and Tusayan residents, and season ticket rates are also available. Visit www.grandcanyonmusicfest.org or call 800-997-8285.

Saturday, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m., "Pictures at an Exhibition" with Trio Solisti - Maria Bachmann, violin; Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello; Jon Klibonoff, piano

Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., "Cafe Music" with Trio Solisti and Clare HoffmanSelections - Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor, Opus 76 (Turina); "Cafe Music" (Paul Schoenfield); "Carmen Rhapsody" (Bizet); Four Seasons (Astor Piazzolla); Hungarian Dances Nos. 1 and 5 (Brahms, arrangement by Maria Bachmann)

Friday, Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m., "Wandering on the Plain" with The Calder Quartet - Benjamin Jacobson, violin; Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerschel, viola; Eric Byers, cello

Saturday, Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m."Reflection on 132" with The Calder QuartetSelections - String Quartet #2 in A minor, Opus 13 (Mendelssohn); "Arcadiana" (Thomas Ades); String Quartet in A minor, Opus 132 (Beethoven)

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.: The Bonfiglio Group -Robert Bonfiglio, harmonic; Joe Deninzon, violin, guitar, and mandolin; Chris Milletari, guitar

Friday, Sept. 14: Pre-Concert Recital of Native American Composer Project compositions starting at 6 p.m. Performance, 7:30 p.m. with Ethel - Cornelius DuFallo, violin; Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Mary Rowell, violin

Saturday, Sept. 15: Pre-Concert Recital of Native American Composer Project compositions starting at 6 p.m. Performance by Ethel, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 16, 3 p.m., A Tusayan Shindig: Free, fun, informal community concert featuring the Bonfiglio Group at Tusayan's Canyon Plaza Quality Inn.

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