Natchez Festival of Music plans lively week

Published 1:22 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

Making music is not only a magical phenomenon but also the result of talent, study, and chemistry. For the Natchez Festival of Music, Dr. David Blackburn, Founding Artistic Director, finds the right participants by auditioning more than three hundred young artists.

About 50 artists are selected, including singers, directors, accompanists and stage professionals, who have won awards and performed around the world and the United States. They descend on Natchez and, in a matter of days, make music by collaborating professionally and personally.

When not performing, artists are very busy with rehearsals, and invitational and social events. “This festival has such a unique atmosphere,” says mezzo-soprano, Tynan Davis, a Texas native now living in New York. “It combines Natchez hospitality, a cooperative learning environment, and hard work. I have to pace myself so that I am at my best,” adds Davis.

Email newsletter signup

This week includes five public musical events in a lively week combining free and ticketed events.

‘Music on Mondays’ previews the coming weekly performances. “Exclusively for this Monday, it is moving to the fabulous Prentiss Club,” says Paris Winn, President of the Festival of Music Board of Directors.

Jessica Medoff Bunchman will be featured. No stranger to the cabaret setting, Ms. Bunchman and husband, accompanist, Michael Bunchman, presented a sophisticated but saucy ‘Evening of Cabaret’ during the opening performance of the Festival.

“This event is fun and casual and we will give away a pair of tickets to Saturday’s performance of ‘Oklahoma!’,” Winn continues. Enjoy an hour of wine, cheese and song at 5:30 p.m. at the Prentiss Club, 211 N. Pearl Street for only $10.

On Friday, May 16, spectacular voices will resonate in a free concert in Memorial Park, located at Main and S. Rankin Streets, beginning at noon. Five guest artists and an accompanist will perform in a Brown Bag Concert in the Park, sponsored by Natchez Downtown, the Natchez Convention Center and the Natchez Festival of Music.

Bag lunches from Uptown Grocery are to be available for $7 (tax included), containing chicken salad or pimento cheese sandwich, bag of chips, and cookie. Natchez Downtown will also have soft drinks and water available for purchase.

‘Oklahoma!’, is a main stage production at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, on Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17, at 8 p.m. The stage will be packed with stars and a full chorus singing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s familiar tunes ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’, ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’, ‘The Farmer and The Cowman’, and of course, ‘Oklahoma!’. Tickets are available for $25, $40 and $55.

On Sunday, May 18, at 4 p.m., in the elegant double parlors of Dunleith, 84 Homochitto Street, a Plantation Performance will feature Susan Ruggiero and Donald Groves. Ms. Ruggiero is an award winning soprano from Hattiesburg and is currently a doctoral student at LSU School of Music. Mr. Groves, tenor, starred as Jim in ‘G Train The Musical’ and will be Slim in ‘Oklahoma!’. After leaving Natchez, Mr. Groves will be performing with the Santa Fe Opera.

For the entire month of May, more than 27 public musical events are presented in main stage productions, plantation performances, special recitals, and concerts to provide an unsurpassed combination of opera, musical theater, and jazz. For detailed information and tickets for these and upcoming performances of Mozart’s opera ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ and hot sweet jazz performers, The Pfister Sisters, go to or call 601-445-6103, 1-800-647-6724 toll free.