Exciting “sneak peek” at Music in the Mountains SummerFest

Now in its 33rd season, Music in the Mountains in Grass Valley has been revitalized under Executive Director Cristine Kelly, her staff and board, as we’ve written before. Now Artistic Advisor Pete Nowlen — a gentleman and a scholar (Sacramento State and UC Davis), and an accomplished musician — is bringing more innovation, creativity and experience to the musical programming.

On Friday night, we attended a “sneak peek” at the 2014 SummerFest at the Stonehouse Brewery building in Nevada City. It was an intimate affair, and Kelly, Nowlen and board members discussed MIM’s upcoming season. We visited with all of them during a reception, a real advantage of our community’s performing-arts scene.

Later we were treated to a more formal presentation, which included an informative and entertaining video, Nowlen’s insights on the summer program and a live musical performance by accomplished 18-year-old violinist Ray Anthony Trujillo. We joked with Ray afterward that the Stonehouse, in an historic stone building, had decent acoustics.

Nowlen is a joy. He has an approachable, informal style, but he is extremely knowledgeable about music. He reminds you of your favorite college professor but with a pragmatic and humorous approach to music and musicians.

Pete walked us through the SummerFest program, which highlights young composers and experienced musicians alike. There is clearly something for everybody, from classical music (Mendelssohn, Rimsky-Korsakov, Fauré), to a solemn “songs of peace and remembrance” (R. Vaughn Williams Dona Nobis Pacem), to a Beatles tribute band (celebrating their 50th anniversary), to experimental and cutting-edge music in the “Wet Ink” program.

Nowlen also pointed to the Family Music Faire, which has one of the hottest pieces going for children’s concerts: Nathaniel Stookey’s Lemony Snicket: The Composer is Dead.

There’s a Gershwin Extravaganza, which generated applause from the audience, featuring the MIM chorus and Festival Orchestra.

The Concerts Under the Stars feature a Grand Fiddler’s Rally, with local Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp. A John Williams Spectacular features music from E.T., Star Wars and Harry Potter.

The performance “Tales from the Exotic East,” featuring two of the most popular Russian classics, will include a Bedouin Tent and Persian costumed performers for socializing outside the Amaral Center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds — a classic touch.

For more information about the programs and tickets, visit Music in the Mountains.

Here’s violinist violinist Ray Anthony Trujillo:

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