Thursday night concert at First Presbyterian dedicated to Julie Kendall

Published 3:55 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” That quote from the classic film, Casablanca, is not quite applicable, but a garbled variation of it floats though my mind whenever I look at the concert schedule of this Natchez Festival of Music season, “in all the small towns in the world, these world class musicians journey into ours!”

Elizabeth Wolf

This spring, among the performers in the 11 concerts scheduled from April 20 through May 20, several are musicians of international renown. All of the Festival musicians are professionally trained and have achieved no less than regional accolades. Many are university professors who are training our future musicians and vocal artists.

Bringing these musicians to Natchez is possible because we have a community that

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appreciates music in all forms; the Natchez Festival of Music to sponsor the performances; and musicians who value the Festival audiences and are willing to journey to Natchez to perform here.

Tomorrow, April 20, at 7 p.m., the first of these world-class musicians, Dr. Marcos Machado, brings his double bass (c. 1700) to the First Presbyterian Church for a recital with pianist Dr. Ellen Elder. This concert is dedicated to the memory of Julie Kendall, who was a long time board member and avid supporter of the Festival. The event is free and a gift from the Festival to the Natchez community. The double bass is rarely heard in concert outside of orchestral performances so this recital is a very special event.

Dr. Machado is a highly acclaimed Brazilian-American double bassist celebrated for his virtuosic performances and inspiring stage presence. His musicianship and technical prowess have inspired composers to write music dedicated to him. He has performed throughout The United States, Europe and South America and has established music festivals in his native Brazil.

Accompanying him will be Dr. Ellen Elder, a nationally respected pianist who in her career has been selected as one of three pianists from the United States to compete at the in the 2007 Johann Sebastian Bach international Competition in Leipzig, Germany. Her CD with Drs. Ben and Jackie McIlwain (trombone and clarinet), “Indefatigable,” was the winner of a Global Award —Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement (Instrumentalist).

Two more world renowned performers deserve highlighting. Pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski will perform Thursday, May 18th, at the First Presbyterian Church. He recently accomplished a long awaited dream when he performed Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 4 in concert at New York City’s Lincoln Center. A Juilliard School graduate, Konstantin has performed throughout the world. He is a composer as well as a pianist and one of his compositions is on the program.

He is also a published author and is writing an opera libretto for “Victoria” in collaboration with Russian-American award-winning composer Polina Naaykinskaya, which was commissioned for the 75th Anniversary Season of Mississippi Opera.

Saturday, May 20, the Festival will close its season with Bill Summers and the New Orleans AllStars. Bill Summers is a tour de force drummer who has performed world wide with Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana, Aretha Franklin, Keyshia Cole, Herbie Hancock, Dave Matthews, George Clinton, Gerry Garcia, Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, Quincy Jones, Sting, and many more stars like himself. He is also the founder of the wildly popular band, Los Hombres Calientes.

He has worked and performed on movie soundtracks. His music is a mix of funk, jazz, blues, rock and Latin rhythms and high energy. This is another world-class performance not to be missed right at home in Natchez.

The Festival’s 2023 season begins April 29 with the operetta, Die Fledermaus, composed by Johann Strauss, famous for his Viennese waltzes. The music will be beautiful and the action hilarious, making it the perfect introduction to this classic art form. Concerts on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays will follow through May 20. More information about these concerts and the Festival season can be found at

Elizabeth Wolf is an active member of the Festival of Music.