Fall fundraisers now in full swing

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall is well upon us and as we’ve traded our summer shorts for more formal attire, Natchez gears up for the festivities of the season. And though the Natchez Festival of Music’s May season may be half a year away, our fall fundraisers are in full swing. Last Saturday’s concert at the Margaret Martin, filled with the best of Sinatra, Broadway and Hollywood, was a big and brassy evening featuring singers Corey Trahan and Lisa McCalmon and a marvelous ensemble. It was capped by a sumptuous Patron Party at Bob and Bettina Barnes’ orchid-filled house and gardens, with even more music, food and fun!

Our final weekend event takes place this coming Saturday night. Titled “An Evening of Memorable Opera Highlights,” this glittering concert is bound to thrill. Six of our artists are flying in from around the country to take part in this fabulous program of arias, duets and quartets from the greatest operatic classics. Richard Nechamkin, Natchez Opera veteran and director of the acclaimed New York Opera Forum, directs and accompanies the music-filled evening. And two divas-in-training from Alcorn State University’s music program make their Festival mainstage débuts as well!

The concert takes place at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday. You’ll hear classic arias from Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and more, and such operas as “The Marriage of Figaro,” “La Bohme,” “La Traviata,” “Carmen, Porgy and Bess,” and more! General seating is $30 per ticket, and premium reserved seats are available for $45. Student tickets are also available for $7.

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Purchasers of patron tickets will also enjoy a real treat: an after-party featuring more arias under the stars in the magnificent surroundings at Cottage Gardens, with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. The Patron-ticket price of $100 ($175 per pair) includes both the Patron Party and reserved seating tickets to the concert. Tickets are available from Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at the Visitor’s Center, or by telephone at 800-647-6742 or 601-446-6631.

Additionally, this will inaugurate the Don and Katherine Killelea Founders Award. This first award is being presented to its namesakes, and has been established to recognize those who have been instrumental in the success of the Natchez Festival of Music over the years. Please attend to help honor these two tireless and dedicated supporters, without whom our festival would probably not exist.

By attending these fundraising evenings, you are helping to underwrite and support one of Natchez’s great annual festivities, one that relies not just on ticket sales, but on the generosity of individuals, educational and cultural institutions and businesses in the Natchez area. These evenings bring a taste of May to our autumn season and help with one of Natchez’s most cherished and culturally important events. See you there!

Michael Norell is a Natchez resident, Natchez Opera board member and director of the Classical Division of MMO Music Group, Inc. in New York.