The Moab Music Festival is a highlight of every autumn, bringing international musicians to the area every September to perform jazz, classical and traditional music. But the organization’s commitment to the Moab area doesn’t disappear for the rest of the year.
The group will hold their Winterlude program this year from Feb. 4 through Feb. 8 as part of its focus on arts education and giving back to the community that hosts its events. During the program, professional musicians provide mentorship to Grand County youth in local strings and choir organizations. The week culminates in an ensemble performance by the visiting artists and students.
“We’re always looking for ways to serve the community and promote musical education,” said Leslie Tompkins, the Moab Music Festival’s artistic director, “and we’re so happy that there are wonderful, robust programs here in town for us to connect to.”
Visiting artists will work with local public school strings and chorus programs, BEACON Strings, and the Student Chamber Ensemble.
This year’s visiting artists include the Festival’s own music director, pianist Michael Barrett, violinist Cindy Wu and cellist Alice Yoo.
“Cindy and Alice are extraordinary string players who are not just phenomenal musicians but also very interested in education,” said Tompkins.
She said that both Wu and Yoo have attended the Festival as performers and were eager to return to the area.
For the first time, the program will also expand to encompass vocal work, with mezzo-soprano Devony Smith and bass-baritone Adrian Rosas traveling to Moab to work with the youth choir.
“Since the chorus is a larger group, it expands the number of students who get to interact with these artists,” Tompkins said.
Following a week of intensive workshops in the schools, local students will join the visiting artists to share their work at a concert on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. at Star Hall.
“Adrian Rosas is really taking the helm for Winterlude this year, attending to all the nuts and bolts,” said Tompkins, lauding Rosas for his passion for the Winterlude program.
“He’s extremely charismatic and great with students,” said Tompkins. “It’s a really wonderful match with the program.”
The mentorship program costs nothing for local participants. The Moab Music Festival simply seeks to increase the number of young people who have access to the professional artists that the organization brings to the area.
The visiting artists will perform at a benefit concert at Star Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m., from which all proceeds will benefit educational programming like Winterlude. Tickets for the event are $25, with youth from 6 to 18 years old welcome for $5.
Toddlers and younger children will have a chance to interact with the visiting artists as well at a special Musical Story Time, a program offered in cooperation with the Grand County Public Library, which will present a reading of the classic children’s book, “Babar The Elephant,” with Barrett, Smith and Rosas.
“It’s a way to bring the youngest members of our community in to have access to this music,” Tompkins said.
Youngsters will be able to sit close to the piano, see projections of the illustrations and hear the rich voices of the professional singers ring out in Star Hall on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 10:30 a.m.
Tompkins pointed out that different ages interact with music in different ways, so “it’s important to have programs that reflect that and allow everyone to be themselves.”
“It’s tricky for a festival with a lot of different forms of music to incorporate programs and music that’s appropriate for different ages,” she said, “but we are so thrilled to be able to involve everyone, almost from birth on.”