There are outdoor concerts and then there are concerts in the outdoors. The Moab Music Festival is an event that has perfectly combined music with the surrounding landscape and invites guests to come along for one-of-a-kind performances.
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The Moab Music Festival showcases southern Utah's spectacular canyonlands in ways mountain biking never could. Julie Dugdale writes, “Although I don't know Tchaikovsky from Brahms, the beauty of this festival is that I don't have to. It's about what you feel when the music starts, not about what you know. The combination of music—whether its chamber music or a jazz ensemble—set against the canyonlands background is, in a word, stirring.”
As the Moab Music Festival's 16th season approached, USA Today exclaimed " If climbing, hiking, river-rafting, mountain-biking and the scenery in Arches National Park aren't enough to draw you to Moab, here's another reason to visit: three weekends of music - [at] The Moab Music Festival..."
Writing for Smithsonian Magazine, Jamie Bernstein (daughter of American legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, and frequent guest performer) provides a glimpse into the magic of the Moab Music Festival. “With its stunning red rocks, the area around Moab is an adventurer's paradise…But when the summer heat tapers off around Labor Day, the region becomes an extraordinary concert hall for world-class musicians…Music lovers hear anew some of world's best classical music as it resonates off the rocks or finds acoustical purity in the dead silence of the remote settings.” Visit Smithsonian Magazine to read Bernstein’s big picture of this most unique venue.
In Nature's Own Concert Hall, Sound Is Forever
It is a rare music festival that requires patrons to sign a risk waiver as they purchase tickets, writes Mindy Sink in the NY Times, but that is one of the peculiarities of the Moab Music Festival, which takes the idea of outdoor concerts to the extreme by ferrying musicians, guests and instruments - including a Steinway grand piano - 15 miles along the Colorado River for a late afternoon performance in a towering red-rock grotto. The festival neatly combines culture with the area's reputation for adventure travel. It's the rare natural acoustics of the grotto that attracts musicians from all over.”
Nestled along the Colorado River and wedged between the Arches and Canyonlands national parks, the town of Moab mostly draws visitors in search of extremes. Mountain bikers test their mettle on the bone-jarring Slickrock Trail; off-road 4x4s with outlandishly big tires crawl up petrified sand dunes; flocks of Cessnas drop skydivers over the baking-hot desert. Yet for two weeks a year, this adrenaline-fueled town makes room for a small crowd of classical-music lovers and out-of-town musicians who come here for a series of concerts that explore more subtle extremes of intimacy with nature—and silence.