Music fest gala set for Sunday

Published 12:01 am Friday, March 28, 2008

NATCHEZ — The third annual Natchez Festival of Music fund-raising gala and dinner is Sunday beginning at 4:45 p.m. at the Vidalia Convention Center.

The theme this year is “Divas, Delicacies, Drinks and Deals.”

Divas, delicacies, drinks and deals pertain to the first portion of the evening, where people are invited to taste wine, sample hors d’oeuvres, make bids in a silent auction and enjoy entertainment from this year’s five vocalists.

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From 4:45 to 6:15 is when this will take place and will be on the promenade on the river and the deck.

Natchez Festival of Music Chairman Paris Winn said there will be 20 different types of wine to sample.

“It’ll be a huge wine tasting,” he said.

During this the five singers will perform, both individually and in groups.

Winn said there are two tenors, a mezzo soprano and a baritone, so it’s a good blend.

“It’s really a great mix of voices performing,” he said.

Once the wine tasting is over and the silent auction is closed, the evening will move inside for the four-course dinner.

After soup and salad, the singers will perform once more.

Winn said the concert will showcase several styles of music, from opera to musical theatre.

Following the concert will be the main course and the live auction.

In both auctions, the musical talents of the artists will be awarded to the highest bidder.

Participants can bid to have one of the performers do a private performance at their home.

Winn said the talent each year is chosen by their artistic director, David Blackburn.

He said every October, Blackburn goes to New York for a few days for auditions.

“Every year you feel it’s better than the last,” Winn said. “People that come are always overwhelmed by the quality of what we hear.”

As much as the people of Natchez want the singers for the festival, the singers in turn want to come to the festival, Winn said.

“The singers love to come here, they want this on their resume,” Winn said. “Natchez Festival of Music has such a great reputation that people fight to get this on their resume.”

Most of the singers are young and have yet to be discovered, Winn said.

“It’s really a credit to the absolute creative genius of David and his ability to pick singers.”

Also being auctioned off are dinners at restaurants and pieces of artwork.

“It’s a little bit of everything, really,” Winn said.

He said last year $45,000 was raised, most of it coming from the auction.

He said he hopes to the same amount, if not more, this year.

All the proceeds go to the Natchez Festival of Music.

He expects 100-125 people to attend.

For those who didn’t receive an invitation or have yet to R.S.V.P., tickets will be sold at the door.

“It’s always a fabulous evening,” Winn said.