GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The 27th season of the Grand Canyon Music Festival continues in grand style this weekend.
Long-time guitar duo Michael Newman and Laura Oltman, as well as the popular School of Rock, will all be a featured highlight of this weekend's events. Jazz violinist Joe Deninzon will perform tomorrow night with jazz guitarist Stephen Benson. The two will perform a concert at the Shrine of Ages beginning at 7:30 p.m. The two are also the creative force behind this year's School of Rock, according to musician and festival co-founder Clare Hoffman. Hoffman, along with her husband Robert Bonfiglio, brought the festival to the Grand Canyon 27 years ago.
"They will perform Grapelli to Green Day," Hoffman said. "Grapelli refers to the great jazz violinist Stefan Grapelli and Green Day is a modern day rock band. They do a wide range of music from Stefan Grapelli to Green Day."
The guitar duo of Newman and Oltman will perform Friday at the Shrine of Ages, Hoffman said. Hoffman and Bonfiglio will join the duo.
"We have a tremendous group of volunteers that do a lot of stuff for us," Hoffman said. "That consists of Michael Newman and his wife Laura Oltman. They've been performing together for about 30 years as a duo. Michael and I have actually know each other since we were 17-years-old. My husband Robert has known him almost as long. Robert and he went to the Aspen Music Festival together when they were in college and my husband wrote a guitar concerto for him. Michael was one of the musicians who played with us 28 years ago to raise money to start the Grand Canyon Music Festival. He is an old friend of ours personally and an old friend of the festival."
The Friday concert will be called "Recuerdos de Viajes" - music from Latin America, Hoffman said.
School of Rock will be held Friday at the Shrine of Ages and is slated to begin before the concert at 5 p.m. The School of Rock concert is free and open to the public.
"When that's done we clear the hall and make it over for the Newman and Oltman guitar duo. Michael and Laura have traveled all over Latin America. They've had all kinds of partnerships with Latin American composers and musicians. This was kind of a remembrance of all the partnerships they have had and the music they have discovered in their travels to Latin America."
The concert, Hoffman said, will be dedicated to the memory of Grand Canyon resident Amy Tacey.
Hoffman said Saturday's concert is called "Confluence," featuring the duo of Oltman and Newman, as well as Hoffman and Bonfiglio. Hoffman described the Saturday concert as having a number of meanings.
"We've known each other for so many years, we've worked together for so many years, it's a confluence of life and sort of our artistic projects that we have had over the years," Hoffman said. "This program is an assortment of music that the four of us have done together over the years - a confluence."
Concert prices are $15 for adults and $8 for students and children ages 6-years-old and up. Season tickets, for all seven concerts in the festival, are $90. More information on the event can be found online at
On Friday, Sept. 10, the string band ETHEL will bring their popular Truck Stop tour to the Shrine of Ages.
"They have been performing for the last four or five years. As an ensemble, they travel all over the world. As a touring musician it gets to be a little mind numbing after a while. You can't remember what town you're in. They thought they would make it an enriching experience. When they go to a place, they try to find out who the local musicians are, what are they doing, what's happening musically in the community and partnering with the musicians from all over the country. They actually started this at the Grand Canyon Music Festival about four years ago when they were doing the Native American Composer Apprentice Project to the Native American schools and they met James Bilagody, who is a wonderful Navajo musician and artist and they started partnering with him. That was kind of the first of the truck stop tour. This year they are continuing that and they are bringing with him two-time Grammy Award-winning Robert Mirabald, who is also a Native American flutist and a Grammy Award-winning slack-key guitar player named Jeff Peterson. They will be performing with them on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11."
This year's Native American Composer Apprentice Project will culminate on Sept. 12, Hoffman said.
"With all of our student composers from five high schools on the Navajo and Hopi reservations, from Tuba High, Hopi High, Chinle High, Monument Valley High School in Kayenta and White Horse High School, which is actually on the Navajo Reservation in Utah. They will all be coming in that weekend. At the community building, the only concert that's at the community building, on Sunday Sept. 12, ETHEL will be performing those students' works at 5 p.m. That is open to the public. We don't charge admission to that."