Great acoustics: the festival's Grotto Concerts are held in a natural red stone cave with high, arching ceilings. (photo by Richard Bowditch, reused with permission of moabmusicfest.org)
  • Great acoustics: the festival's Grotto Concerts are held in a natural red stone cave with high, arching ceilings. (photo by Richard Bowditch, reused with permission of moabmusicfest.org)
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From August 29th through September 10th, music will echo through some of Utah’s most scenic canyons. The Moab Music Festival aims to merge music with the natural landscape found along the Colorado River in the vicinity of the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

With a population of less than 10,000, the city that is located between the two parks hosts millions of tourists each year. Moab's stunning, rugged terrain with thousands of sandstone arches and freestanding mesas – once known for massive subterranean stores of uranium deposits – draws adventure-sport enthusiasts now, including base jumpers, canyoneers, river rafters and rock climbers.

It also draws world-class musicians each September. The 20-year-old annual event was founded by two New York musicians who had vacationed in the area and were looking for a reason to return.

“Starting a music festival seemed like the perfect way to make sure we would return again and again,” said violist Leslie Tomkins, who started the festival along with her pianist/conductor husband Michael Barrett (also the associate artistic director of the New York Festival of Song at Carnegie Hall).

Moab's festival has won awards for distinctive programming of traditional chamber, jazz and Latin music. The 2012 season sponsors 16 concerts to be performed in a variety of venues, both indoors and out.

how about this setting for a concert? (photo by Neal Herbert, reused with permission of moabmusicfest.org)

how about this setting for a concert? (photo by Neal Herbert, reused with permission of moabmusicfest.org)

The festival’s premier events, the $300/ticket Grotto Concerts, occur at the opening of a natural red stone cave located along the Colorado River. The price of the ticket, half of which is tax-deductable, includes a 45-minute boat ride 30 miles down the river.

This year, there will be three Grotto Concerts held over the course of the 13-day festival, each with separate musicians playing different repertoires. A post-concert reception serving wine and hors d'oeuvres will follow each concert, enabling folks to mingle with the artists.

Comfortable outdoor clothing and suitable shoes are recommended. Camp chairs are provided. Shuttle buses depart the Swanny City Park at noon. Concertgoers should expect to return to Moab around 6 p.m.

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