Festival of Music is great event

Published 11:26 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I write this letter in the afterglow of a wonderful visit to your beautiful city over the weekend. It was among the most memorable experiences of my life.

The occasion of my visit was the renown Natchez Festival of Music, now in its 19th season. On Friday, I made the 525 mile journey from my home in Nashville, Tenn., to Natchez, arriving in time for the magnificent Command Performance at Trinity Episcopal Church. During the weekend I was blessed by an awesome evening of Broadway and Opera Highlights at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center. I heard another artist sing on Sunday morning as we worshiped at New Covenant Presbyterian Church. Then Sunday afternoon the performance at that magnificent estate, The Towers, was thrilling and inspiring.

Interwoven in these scheduled events were several spontaneous expressions of your genuine hospitality.

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Several years ago my wife and I attended the festival upon invitation of Dr. David Blackburn. David and I had been friends in Nashville 30 years ago. The year 2005 was my first knowledge of the Natchez Festival. We were amazed and blessed then.  Recently, in Jerusalem on a spiritual pilgrimage, I providentially saw Sara Blackburn. I had, of course, called her upon learning of David’s death last year, but had not seen her until Jerusalem. We discussed the festival and she told me that George Hogan was the new director. George was one of the choir members of Belle Meade United Methodist Church in Nashville where I pastor during his school years in that city. I wanted to experience the festival again, this time under his leadership.

As I expected, he was great. Believe me, this festival deserves the very highest rating possible.

I live in Music City, USA, have a great love for most kinds of music, have been to many music events throughout the world including three times to the world famous Edinburgh, Scotland Festival. Who would ever imagine that a small city in southern Mississippi would equal or surpass any of these world’s festivals! I hope the citizens of your city appreciate this.

I had only one disappointment during my visit. The attendance of everything was fine, but not super.  Except for the Plantation Performance there were still some empty seats; that was unbelievable to me.  Because of the quality of the event I expected a sellout for everything. Is more outreaching publicity needed in the future?   Do more of the local residents need to become aware of what is happening and be there themselves? I assure you, were I a resident of Natchez I would not miss a single event of the festival.

I am aware that such artistic events depend heavily on benefactors and sponsors  To those who are so graciously supportive I say,  “thank you!” You can be sure your resources are well-spent and thoroughly worth everything you invest.

And, for many of you, the festival is a long-term labor of love. You deserve the heartfelt thanks of everyone as the festival concludes this weekend with “Carmen.”

Natchez has a unique history; you have “many things going for you.”

Thank you for what my brief part of it meant to me.

Edward L. Crump

Nashville, Tenn., resident