Natchez Music Festival Kicks Off Sunday – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper
AAbout six years ago, I suggested to my husband Alan that we should buy a second home for hurricane evacuation within a reasonable distance of New Orleans where we lived, but far enough away to avoid the worst effects of the storms. storms, and Natchez seemed like a place to start looking even though we knew nothing about the city.
So I called a friend who had moved to Natchez from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and asked him, “What is Natchez like?” His response: “Wonderful”.
It didn’t take long for us to find out that his assessment was fair.
Our first discovery was the kindness of the people here and their generosity. Then we learned about all the special events organized and supported by the Natchezians: the literary festival, a funky Mardi Gras parade and the biggest Mardi Gras krewe festivities, Angels on the Bluff, an antiques forum, the festival balloons, the music festival and Suite.
Sadly, last year all were either canceled, postponed or reconfigured by the COVID crisis. But now, with vaccinations and safety protocols, these special events are coming back.
As I write this, I anticipate Sunday May 23, the opening concert of the 31st edition of the Music Festival, an incredible achievement.
The Festival was organized in 1990 by opera enthusiasts with the aim of presenting one opera each year, which it did until 2019. And over the years, the Festival has expanded its offering to include performances by popular music, Americana, jazz and Broadway musicals. all music lovers.
This season, because of the pandemic, will be a little different but just as attractive.
An opera and musical will have to wait until next year, but this year’s festival season, titled “String of Pearls,” features eight concerts over five weeks with a variety of superb performances.
But back to the opening concert. At the Trinity Episcopal Church on Sunday evening, May 23, at 7 p.m., singer Stacey Trenteseaux and pianist Zhaolei Xie will perform a selection of favorite tunes, musical theater melodies and art songs in a program titled “Moonlight and Magic”.
These talented musicians received their first training in Mississippi and Louisiana and have performed throughout the world. We are lucky to have them for the Festival.
And Stacey and Zhaolei aren’t the only accomplished performers in concert this year. Renowned pianist Jonathan Levin returns to the Festival on June 5. And on June 18, former Festival artistic director Jay Dean will present a program featuring the Natchez Festival of Music Chamber Orchestra and singers from music favorites from the past 30 years of the Festival.
More classic offerings include performances by the Diamond Trio on May 28 and the Lagniappe Trio on June 9.
Willie Nelson fans won’t want to miss “Luckenbach,” from the Willie Nelson Tribute Band at the Natchez Community Center on June 25th.
Jazz lovers, the Festival has not forgotten you! Trumpeter Kimble Funchess Channels Louie Armstrong in “Satchmo!” June 11.
And on June 27, another great jazz icon will be honored with “Take Five by Dave Brubeck”.
You can find information on these eight incredible concerts and the ticket office at natchezfestivalofmusic.com.
Now you can see what makes the Music Festival so exciting and unique.
Natchez, a small but wonderful city, is lucky to have so many music lovers that this Festival continues to enhance and develop its cultural identity. An incredible achievement indeed!
And that’s one of the reasons my husband and I now call Natchez our “first” and main house.
Elizabeth Wolf is a resident of Natchez.