GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The Grand Canyon Music Festival's 29th season comes to a close this weekend with Friday and Saturday night performances at the Shrine of Ages, South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The festival also presented the 12th season of its Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP), with music education programs at Navajo and Hopi Reservation schools, and the fifth season of School of Rock for students at Grand Canyon Unified Schools.
At 7:30 p.m. on Friday night at the Shrine of Ages, kicking off the third and final weekend of the festival, music lovers can enjoy "A Night at the Opera" when husband and wife singers Kirk Dougherty and Cabiria Jacobsen bring some of opera's greatest hits to the Grand Canyon Music Festival stage, including semi-staged scenes from La Cenerentola, Les contes d'Hoffmann, and West Side Story.
Friday's performance will feature the mezzo-soprano Jacobsen and tenor Dougherty, along with Jon Klibonoff on piano and Clare Hoffman on flute. A frequent guest at the Grand Canyon Music Festival with his ensemble Trio Solisti, Jon Klibonoff has earned a reputation for soulful and passionate performances marked by soloistic virtuosity, electric energy, seamless ensemble playing, and thrilling abandon.
Founded in 1983 by Hoffman and Robert Bonfiglio, the Grand Canyon Music Festival brings world-renowned artists to Arizona for performances, outreach, and education programs in rural and underserved Arizona communities, at affordable admission prices. The annual three-week series of concerts held at the Shrine of Ages, South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, emphasizes the broad diversity of chamber music in celebration of the environment of this majestic World Heritage Site.
This will be Jacobsen's and Dougherty's first time performing at the Music Festival, and Hoffman expressed how excited she is to have them, especially since Jacobsen is actually her niece.
"She has evolved into this wonderful, young singer. I've been thinking about having her perform at the festival for a few years now, but she's really gotten her professional credentials the last few years," said Hoffman. "She's been getting rave reviews and a lot of wonderful experience under her belt. So I thought, she's earned it now, she's got the credentials and she can come to the Grand Canyon Music Festival."
Jacobsen and Dougherty met while performing in a Mozart opera together and were married in November of last year. Hoffman said Dougherty is a spectacular young tenor who has been building up a wonderful career.
"We haven't had a singer for a long time, and I love vocal music, I love the voice. If I could sing I would, but I can't," Hoffman said. "So I'm really happy that we're able to have them and have them doing some music."
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., closing night of the festival, enjoy the "Art of Song" from Baroque masters to contemporary classics with Dougherty and Jacobsen, plus Klibonoff on piano again. The husband and wife team will perform works of Purcell, Handel, Britten, Gershwin, and Porter, as well as selections from two new song cycles; Vignettes: Ellis Island by Alan Louis Smith and Craigslistlieder by Gabriel Kahane.
Hoffman spoke about how excited she is to have Jacobsen and Dougherty perform the Vignettes: Ellis Island because there is a national park connection. The Ellis Island History Project was a project where interviewers spoke to living immigrants who came to the United States via Ellis Island. Their words and stories were recorded, and composer Smith then set their words to music.
"So this got me thinking, I would love to have a Grand Canyon oral history project that talks to people who lived at the Canyon even before it became a national park," Hoffman said. "Talk to the Havasupai Tribe who were there, for example, and maybe set that to music."
Hoffman hopes that in a couple years they would have their own version of this oral history project for the Grand Canyon.
According to Hoffman, Craigslistlieder by the young Composer Kahane is similar to Smith's piece because Kahane took postings from Craigslist and set them to music as well. She is excited to see both performances and feels their original and unique visions will attract and intrigue many visitors.
The Grand Canyon Music Festival, winner of the President's Council on the Arts and the Humanities Arts and Youth Program, Governor's Arts Award, and two-time winner of the ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, has been recognized as an innovator in programming and education outreach, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Western State Arts Federation (WESTAF), the Flinn Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, ASCAP Foundation, APS, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
The Grand Canyon Music Festival attracts artists of international acclaim, including Pulitzer Prize winning composers like John Corigliano, William Bolcom, and Paul Moravec. Festival performances are heard nationwide on National Public Radio's (NPR) "Performance Today" and statewide on KNAU, Flagstaff, and KBAQ, Phoenix. The Grand Canyon Music Festival has been featured on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered."
Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children (age 6 and up) and students. Season tickets to all seven concerts are $90. For more information call (800) 997-8285 or (928) 638-9215. For complete schedule information and tickets visit www.grandcanyonmusicfest.org.