Last week can be considered the "Arts Week" of the summer in Marquette with several events including the Blueberry Dance Festival at Kaufman Auditorium, the opening of "I Do, I Do!" at Lake Superior Theatre, The Lake Superior Youth Theatre Blueberry Festival Youth Talent Show, Art on the Rocks and Outback art shows. Another organization, Pine Mountain Music Festival, opened their season in Marquette last week with a well attended cabaret at the Ore Dock and an Organ Concert.
The Pine Mountain Music Festival was founded in Iron Mountain, Michigan, in 1991 by Laura Jean Deming, a cellist and member of the orchestra of Lyric Opera of Chicago. That first season was primarily chamber music, but by 1992 opera was being produced. The Festival primarily runs from mid-June to mid-July in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin, although alternate scheduling sometimes occurs.
This summer, the 24th season of PMMF, the festival is condensed into a two-week festival and moved to the end of July. This weeks events in Marquette include the ever popular Bergonzi String Quartet this Friday evening playing a repertoire of Mozart, Janacek and Schubert at Reynolds Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. This quartet is also performing a free children's concert at the Peter White Public Library at 1 p.m. on Friday. This is special to my heart because they are not only exposing youth (plus several teens and adults) to classical music but they are also playing my childhood favorite "Peter and the Wolf," a composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. This composition is meant to teach youth the sounds of an orchestra told through story, where each instrument represents a different character.
One of the greatest things about PMMF, is their ability to bring in professional artists from around the country, holding auditions in New York City or Chicago over the winter months. Due to the performers schedules being booked during the fall, winter and spring months, their availability is more open in the summer, allowing them to come to our gorgeous region. Artists of this caliber would be almost impossible to bring in for a festival during any other time period and PMMF has captured this by touring across the Upper Peninsula and bringing professional classical music to areas that normally would not have the opportunity.
PMMF has not only brought many amazing high caliber artists to the area, but they are also showcasing the local talent that we have right here. This year marks the third year of the UPstarts program, which showcases young and up and coming talent from the Upper Peninsula. A concert tonight July 28 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Episcopal Church Chapel features soprano Tory Wood from Escanaba and violinist Carrie Dlutkowski from Atlantic Mine join pianist Susan Byykkonen from Calumet. If you missed it tonight you can also catch them at the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising on July 30.
The Handel and Hoiby Opera Concert on Wednesday at Reynolds Recital Hall will feature Lee Hoiby's brilliant one woman show, The Italian Lesson, based on Ruth Draper's monologue. Joseph Mechavich will provide the accompaniment for this captivating and charming opera. The evening will also feature Lucy Thrasher, Anne Jennifer Nash, Holly Janz, Miles Mykkanen, and accompanist Joseph Mechavich in a special presentation of Handel arias directed by Joshua Major.
The PMMF is one of only a few summer festivals nationwide producing a season of professional opera, chamber music, and other genres of music. What is great about PMMF is that you don't have to dress up or know a lot about classical music to come. I heavily encourage everyone to attend one concert. The high level of performance promises to offer you a night that you will rarely get to have in Marquette in a very relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
Tickets remain less expensive than anything in Chicago or New York with the same artists, plus you save money on gas and hotel!PMMF is yet another reason why Marquette remains such an amazing and artistic city and is another great arts event to check out this summer.
Editor's note: Nikke Nason is the artistic/executive director of the Lake Superior Youth Theatre and business manager of the Lake Superior Theatre. She is also the former director of the Marquette Arts and Culture Center and currently serves as a council member for the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.