Festival of Music season ‘best ever’Published 12:06am Thursday, June 20, 2013
It’s typical for organizations to end a season or a year and say, “It was the best ever.”
When I say that the recently concluded Natchez Festival of Music was our best ever, I’m not using empty rhetoric.
It was the best ever because of the support of our patrons at our 11 ticketed performances, bringing in the revenues we needed, and 7,000-plus students in grades K-6 attended our children’s opera, “Billy Goats Gruff,” that addressed bullying.
It was the best because for the first time in the festival’s 23-year history, we had world-renowned stars from the Metropolitan Opera in performance.
And, it was the best because the parking lots at our performances were filled with cars from throughout the Miss-Lou and beyond.
Dr. Jay Dean, the Festival Artistic Director for the past three years, continues to develop new and better programming, not just during the Festival in May, but throughout the year.
We’ll soon be talking about programs for our 24th season and about opportunities to hear wonderful music between now and then.
So many people contributed to the Festival’s success that it would be impossible to list them all. And yet I must acknowledge the outstanding talents of the performers who came to Natchez from around the globe. Each year, Jay Dean holds auditions in New York and here and selects the right mix of bright young singers and musicians.
These 75-plus professionals like to come to Natchez because our community makes them feel so special by hosting them in our homes, preparing food for them daily during their rehearsals, driving them to out-of-town performances and constantly thanking them for sharing their gifts with us.
Other music festivals may have great performances, but none has the resources we have in terms of beautiful venues, from First Presbyterian and Trinity Episcopal churches to the antebellum homes generously made available by their owners, the Eola and the Prentiss Club, and the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. It is that combination of high-quality performances in our historical settings that make the festival unique.
So, yes, I am proud of our season and of our organization, our financial contributors and corporate sponsors and our many volunteers. This truly is a collaborative effort that enriches our own residents culturally and brings many visitors to our town.
Thank you to everyone who played a part in this successful season.
Please continue to help us grow artistically and as an organization. Our website, natchezfestivalofmusic.com, is constantly updated, so please visit it often to see what we are doing throughout the remainder of this year and for our 24th season scheduled for May 3 to May 24, 2014.
Mary Lessley is chairman of the Natchez Festival of Music’s board of directors.