Festival of Music gets off to great start

Published 12:16 am Monday, April 7, 2008

As the river ran fast past the Vidalia Conference Center on the evening of March 30, the board of directors and the opera guild of the Natchez Festival of Music conducted the third-annual fundraising gala and dinner to jump-start the 18th season of the Natchez Festival of Music in May.

The event, titled “Divas, Delicacies, Drinks and Deals,” was successful on all accounts, even in reaching some fundraising goals. This is important because ticket sales, for the 10 Festival of Music productions, only cover 30 percent of the total operating costs.

The riverfront view and the conference center’s acoustics were outstanding. The excellence of the wine and food were only excelled by the strong voices of our professional performers who sang pieces from famous Broadway shows and operas, while the attendees sipped drinks and bid on silent auction items contributed by local merchants and restaurateurs in the Miss-Lou.

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During dinner, the performers continued entertaining guests while a continuous running DVD, featuring past Festival of Music production highlights, ran on overhead screens.

After dinner a “live auction” was conducted by Festival of Music Chairman Paris Winn. The six artists, who will be residing in Natchez during May, were then auctioned off to the highest bidders for their singing talents that will again be demonstrated in the private homes of winners.

According to Mr. Winn, “These singers represent a rich flavor of what we all can expect in May. We’re braced for a successful 18th season and these wonderful young and talented artists will greatly add to that outcome.”

Here’s what we all can expect to enjoy in May: cabaret music, jazz, operettas (e.g., “Bluebeard’s Castle”), Broadway shows (e.g., “Oklahoma” and “Phantom of the Opera”), sacred music (Alcorn Choir), and classic opera (e.g., Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte”). It’s a virtual cornucopia of musical treats. You may order your tickets though Natchez Pilgrimage Tours by calling 601-445-6103 or online at www.natchezpilgrimage.com.

In addition to ticketed productions, the NFM will offer a series of free concerts and recitals, featuring our resident artists, throughout the month of May at various locations (e.g., Memorial Park, St. Mary’s) throughout Natchez. The Festival of Music also sponsors an educational program that brings the artists into local schools where they perform for the students.

The mission of the Festival of Music is to enrich the lives of the Miss-Lou residents through the production of various musical endeavors as well as to provide an educational outreach program of music and performing arts for children in the Miss-Lou schools.

Our vision is to be a strong promoter of cultural activities that attract folks to Natchez and Mississippi from the Miss-Lou, the Deep South and throughout the US and abroad.

Mike Gemmell is a Natchez resident and Natchez Festival of Music eminent board member.