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Utah Moab Music Festival

late August/early September – Moab, Utah

An award-winning event, the Moab Music Festival showcases amazing musicians

Classical Chamber Music is probably the last thing you would expect to find in a small southwestern town with a population of less than 6,000, but every September, that is exactly what you will find in Moab, Utah. Not to fail to mention the inspirational red rock venues of canyon country for chamber music, and jazz concerts, as well as music from around to world

Founded in 1982 by Michael Barrett and Leslie Tomkins, professional musicians from New York, the festival was their creative way of combining the two passions of their lives …. the love of beautifully performed music and the amazing beauty of the Moab area. While there are numerous musical festivals throughout the year, the Moab Music Festival stands out from its competitors for its unique venues. Other than one or two concerts in Moab’s historical (and recently renovated) theater, the remaining concerts are held in a natural setting. “We have many, many different venues around Moab,” Barrett says, “and we keep finding new places that we want to use.”

The Festival dream: to marry world class musical performances with the spectacular landscape of the Utah canyonlands region and to bring musical opportunities to the Moab community, particularly to its children, has come true. The Festival engages the Moab Community, its children and youth through the Education Outreach and Artist-in-Residence programs.

Classical chamber music is the mainstay of the Festival, with traditional folk music, jazz, Latin music, and the compositions of living composers, many of whom have served as Composers-in-Residence, adding spice to the repertoire. Over the course of the Festival’s history, close to 170 professional, world-class musicians have performed in Moab; many returning year after year, driven by their desire to make music in concert with the landscape.

Recognized for its excellence, the Festival received the Utah Arts Council’s 2002 Governor’s Award in the Arts, the 2003 ASCAP First Prize for “Adventurous Programming” and a 2007 Utah Governor's Mansion Artist Award.
The Festival begins the Thursday before the Labor Day holiday and continues through the next weekend. Concerts are scheduled in a variety of indoor and outdoor venues around Moab; the most spectacular of these being a grotto 30 miles down the Colorado River. At these special benefit concerts patrons travel downriver by motorized boat to enjoy the stunning visual beauty and acoustical splendor of this site. In addition, each Festival usually includes a benefit concert hosted at one of the many attractive homes in the Moab area.
Unconventional venues for concerts are definitely the draw of the Moab Festival. Popular events are the “Musical Walks”, which combine a concert with an easy hike. A small group is bused to a spot a few miles from town and from there, hike along marked trails stopping at several spots for short performances. And for a more rugged outdoor experience there is a four-day raft trip down the Colorado River with a concert at each overnight stop with a return trip by plane.

Whether held outdoors or indoors, concerts astound audiences with the quality of the performances and intimacy of the experience. When the music stops, the scenery continues to astonish as participants enjoy the scenic wonders of the area, such as Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, the snow-capped La Sal Mountains, and the red-rock cliffs towering above the mighty Colorado River.

The Moab Music Festival will saturate your senses with both sight and sound and is the epitome of the “once in a lifetime” experience that can be found each and every day of the two-week festival.

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