A big weekend in Natchez wraps up a month of big weekends. This is the final weekend for the Natchez Festival of Music that happens every May. The people who come to the performances love it. And the people who do the performing love coming to Natchez.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May there are operas and musicals and concerts and all sorts of activities like that going on in and around Natchez; in the auditorium at the Margaret Martin Center for the Performing Arts as well as more intimate settings in the old antebellum homes and gardens and other places.
The festival started nearly a quarter century ago as the Natchez Opera Festival, but has expanded beyond just opera under Artistic Director, Jay Dean.
"The things, the adjectives that drive my thinking in Natchez when I'm putting this festival together are; is it elegant, is it refined and is it historical."
Some of this years offerings have included an all-Gershwin concert, a performance of Kiss Me Kate, several solo and small ensemble performances, and the festival wraps up this weekend with a presentation of Rigoletto.
John Christopher Adams, who grew up in the Fannin community in Rankin County, is pursuing a professional singing career and is in Rigoletto, and has been in several of the other productions this month in Natchez.
"Its one of the only career paths where you get to travel and see the world and do what you love to do using a gift you've been given," said Adams. "We all sing for our supper all the time."
John is from Mississippi, but that is just a coincidence. He auditioned for the festival just like all of the other performers who are here from all over the world.
"This festival is now a festival for emerging professional artists," said Dean. "That means people who are through with their studies but just on the verge of becoming well known in the business."
And the festival has become famous among the ranks of the rising stars of the music world. And is one of the desired places to be selected to perform.
Of the 120 or so who auditioned in New York last autumn, about 20 were selected to be in Natchez for the festival.
And plans are for the Natchez Festival of Music to just get bigger and better and more inclusive of other varieties of music. Next year they are putting together a salute to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles arriving in America, for instance.
And given a little more time, this will undoubtedly be one of the more popular music festivals in the nation.
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