Moab Music Festival: Music in ‘A Miracle of a Place’

Moab Music Festival: Music in ‘a miracle of a place’

Moab Music Festival: Music in ‘A Miracle of a Place’

Moab Music Festival: Music in ‘a miracle of a place’

If you’re looking to get out of town for the Labor Day Weekend, you just might want to consider The 22nd Annual Moab Music Festival which opens this week with both indoor and outdoor concerts.

As thousands of Utah Symphony patrons discovered earlier this month, the music of history’s greatest composers can be enjoyed in scenic natural amphitheaters as well as in air-conditioned concert halls. Michael Barrett has known that for years. The Moab Music Festival, which he co-founded with his wife, Leslie Tomkins, is about to launch its 22nd season of “music in concert with the landscape.”

Moab is “a miracle of a place — the landscape, the parks, the Colorado River, the weather, everything,” Barrett said. “When you put music with that, it’s a great, great marriage.”

Here’s a rundown of some of the events at this year’s festival.

Grotto concerts » The festival is presenting three of these signature events at a secluded grotto on the Colorado River, and all three sold out early. Barrett said he always strives to program music that is worthy of the spectacular setting. A highlight of the first concert will be the solo horn movement from Olivier Messiaen’s suite “From the Canyons to the Stars,” inspired by the French composer’s 1972 visit to southern Utah. Edmar Castaneda, who plays a distinctive style of jazz on his Colombian folk harp, also will perform on this concert. “Playing there is really special and amazing,” Castaneda said during a break from a recording session in New York.

Music hikes » The festival season includes three concerts in settings accessible only by foot. Barrett doesn’t disclose the locations in advance; even the meet-up place to catch the shuttle to the trailhead is available only upon registration. “We like to control our impact on the wilderness,” he said.

Rocky Mountain Power Free Family Picnic Concert » The Moab Music Festival always has included a free, family-oriented concert on Labor Day. Barrett said he’s aimed to give this year’s edition a higher profile because 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of nearby Canyonlands National Park. A highlight will be the world premiere of an opera scene by composer-novelist-violinist Gerald Elias, best-known for his years as the Utah Symphony’s associate concertmaster.

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