The summer festival season is winding down as we gear up for the regular concert season. But there is (at least) one more festival worth mentioning for its inclusive and exciting programming. The Moab Music Festival, which began August 28, brings musicians and music enthusiasts into the beautiful Utah landscape for some amazing experiences—including a 4 day musical raft trip.
Moab is different that so many other festivals in that it encourages full engagement with the surrounding landscape, and a perhaps more personal and intimate experience interacting not only with the music in nature, but also with the musicians themselves. The chamber music lined up throughout the two week event invites listeners to consider the favorite standbys with fantastic but grossly underperformed works from the repertoire. This year’s Moab Music Festival has assembled a fantastic range of musical styles and period—and included three works by historic women composers, which is somewhat unheard of in today’s programming.
For example, the second night of the festival featured works by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, as well as Clara Schumann’s Romances for Violin and Piano op. 22. The pairing of these three composers is a natural choice considering the history and relationship between the three—but Clara’s compositional voice is all too often omitted when discussing the work and collaboration of the three musical minds.
The following Friday, September 5, the Festival presented a program titled, Freedom and Censorship: The Music of Russia and Poland, including works by Shostakovitch, Rimsky-Korsakov, Chopin, and Grazyna Bacewicz—one of the few Polish women to achieve acclaim as a composer. Her Piano Quintet No. 1 will be featured on the program:
The Festival Finale on September 7 will feature works by English composers, including the Phantasie Trio by Alice Verne-Bredt —a composer who is so little-known today that information is not readily available about her life and work. Paired with works by Britten, Bax, and Gilbert & Sullivan, this particular program demonstrates not only the wealth of repertoire to choose from, but how including a range of voices (even little-known ones) can give a better sense of the musical landscape as a whole.
So, well done, Moab Music Festival for creating programming that I am very excited about—and very sorry to have to miss this year. But I look forward to the innovative and inclusive programming to continue in the future!