"Perhaps the most unique concert event in the country, this festival sees esteemed musicians from around the world performing outdoors inside stunning red rock venues. You simply have to see—and hear—it to believe it."
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“The arts matter because they're central to our humanity. They help define the best parts of who we are as human beings.” -Michael Barrett, Co-Founder
Little did two New York-based musicians Michael Barrett and Leslie Tomkins know that while on a rare trip to the red rocks of Moab, Utah, they would be inspired to start a music festival. The husband-and-wife team launched the first Moab Music Festival in September 1993. Now in its 23rd year, NEA grantee Moab Music Festival continues to bring diverse programming to enrich the Moab region with music education and cultural arts.
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These are some pretty unbeatable venues.
Moab Music Festival, which takes place in the town of Moab, Utah, wins the title for coolest outdoor fest around. Performances happen in red-rock grottos only reachable by boat, ranches, and canyons. The fest also offers musical hikes, in which attendees are shuttled to a secret location for a moderate hike ending with a performance in the middle of nature.
Classical Music Meets the Colorado River: Moab Music Festival
Moab Music Festival Co-Founder and Music Director Michael Barrett recalls the memory fondly. As he sat with his wife Leslie Tomkins in Southern Utah in 1991, they marveled over the view of red rocks, a dramatic storm and a double rainbow. “We just could not believe the beauty of this place,” Barrett said. “My wife said, ‘Let’s make the music festival here.’ And I looked at her and said, ‘That is brilliant. Of course we have to do it here.’” Highlighted by the likes of Smithsonian magazine and The New York Times, the festival enjoys a loyal following as it enters its 24th year come September. More, Pg. 108.
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Utah is well-known for its rust red rock formations and the Moab Music Festival in Utah, left, takes full advantage of this natural setting — sandstone makes for some impressive acoustics. The festival offers intimate concert experiences with jazz, Latin and world music performances happening among the rocky outcrops and caverns.
What to know
You may have been to some fine musical venues in your lifetime, but until you’ve had sandstone walls serve as your acoustics, you haven’t lived.
Making the most of its natural surroundings, the Moab Music Festival proudly sets up shop in various outdoor and indoor venues in Utah’s Colorado Plateau for a multi-day fest of piano concerts, family shows and musical hikes. But while names like Bela Fleck stand out on this year’s calendar, truthfully speaking, it’s the red-rock cliffs surrounding the stages that are the real stars.