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8/14/2012 11:12:00 AM
Grand Canyon Music Fest warms up for another season
First concert to be held Aug 24-25
Deninzon (left) and Benson perform at the Shrine of the Ages last year. They will play again during this year’s festival on Aug. 30. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Deninzon (left) and Benson perform at the Shrine of the Ages last year. They will play again during this year’s festival on Aug. 30. Ryan Williams/WGCN

David Yankus

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The Grand Canyon Music Festival presents its 29th season, from Aug. 24-Sept. 8, with weekend concerts at the Shrine of the Ages, South Rim, and Grand Canyon National Park. The festival also presents 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.

Founded in 1983, 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 the Ages, South Rim in the Grand Canyon National Park emphasizes the broad diversity of chamber music in celebration of the environment of this majestic World Heritage Site.

ETHEL, America's premier postclassical string quartet, performs opening weekend Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24-25. With their unique and innovative sound, ETHEL will be featured alongside other acts the second weekend of the music festival as well. Formed in 1998, New York's ebullient ETHEL is made up of founding members Ralph Farris on viola and Dorothy Lawson on cello, as well as violinists Kip Jones and Tema Wastein.

The second weekend of music kicks off Aug. 30 with performances by Robert Bonfiglio on harmonica, Joe Deninzon on violin and Stephen Benson on guitar.

Head over to the Shrine of the Ages on Aug. 31 where the Grand Canyon Music Festival's School of Rock will be celebrating its fifth season with Bonfiglio Group members Bonfiglio, Benson, and Deninzon, along with Grand Canyon School's (GCS) own band of talented rockers. This free community pre-concert student recital begins at 5 p.m.

Inspired by the success of NACAP, the Grand Canyon Music Festival incorporated the School of Rock into its educational programming in 2007. Grand Canyon School of Rock is a fast-paced, week-long, education program developed with Grand Canyon Music Festival musicians that gives GCS students the opportunity to experience all aspects of band life.

Also on Aug. 31, as well as Sept. 1, will be performances by Catalyst Quartet with special guests ETHEL and bassist Trevor Reed. This young string quartet, top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition for young black and Latino string players, is on a mission to advance diversity in classical music and inspire new and young audiences with dynamic performances of repertoire by a wide range of composers. Their performance will feature Osvaldo Golijov's nonet Last Round, an homage to Piazzolla.

On Sept. 1, music lovers can enjoy composer Richard Einhorn's octet, "The Silence." Event planners are inviting all festival-goers to join them for a pre-concert discussion with Einhorn about his experience with sudden hearing loss at the age of 57, and how he has become an advocate for the hearing impaired.

The Grand Canyon Music Festival's seminal, award-winning education outreach project, NACAP, culminates in a day long fair on Sept. 2 for students, families, and the community with the new music ensemble ETHEL and the Catalyst Quartet, as well as composers-in-residence Raven Chacon, Michael Begay, and Trevor Reed. The day long fair is at the Grand Canyon Community Building, where there will also be a concert at 4 p.m. featuring works by the Grand Canyon Music Festival's NACAP students.

Since 1984, the Festival has served Native American communities within the state, including the Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, and Pima Indian Reservations, as well as the Heard Museum and Scottsdale Community College. In 2001 the festival inaugurated their Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP).

Recognized for its outstanding work with youth, NACAP is an intensive tutoring program on the art of composition for string quartet. Their 2012 composers-in-residence Chacon, Begay, Reed, and Blair Quamahongnewa, work with students from five Navajo and Hopi high schools in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Those student works are then work-shopped, premiered, toured, and recorded by ETHEL, NACAP 2012 ensemble-in-residence, and the Catalyst Quartet, 2012 NACAP fellowship ensemble-in-residence.

On Sept. 7, kicking off the third and final weekend of the festival, event-goers 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 and West Side Story. Featuring the mezzo-soprano Jacobsen and tenor Dougherty, along with Jon Klibonoff on piano and Clare Hoffman on flute.

Then on closing night of the festival, Sept. 8, 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.

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

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