May 22, 2014

Music festival offers concerts, opera, ballet

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois Music Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary with more than three dozen performances in 13 communities. 

The theme of this summer’s festival, which runs June 10-30 at nearly two dozen venues, is “Mostly Mozart in the Midwest.”  The festival is under the direction of Edward Benyas, professor of oboe and conducting with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Music. 

Here are some festival highlights: 

Opera: The festival traditionally fully staged opera performances.  This year, the selections are Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” a three-act tragedy; and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s comic opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio” -- which, in this festival, takes place in a Star Trek setting. 

Ballet:  Local dancers join professionals for “Mozart in Motion,” a contemporary ballet set to a pair of Mozart’s concertos. 

Orchestra, Choir, Soloists: The SI Fest Orchestra presents the “Battle of Normandy 70th Anniversary Tribute,” featuring a chamber orchestra piece written on the battlefield by American veteran Lionel Semiatin.  Other selections include compositions by Aaron Copland, Richard Strauss, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. 

Chamber Music Concerts: Chamber music is music in the classical tradition written for a small group of instruments and a smaller, cozier setting.  This year, many selections favor the “Mostly Mozart” theme. 

New Arts Jazztet: Southern Illinois’ premiere jazz group, featuring members of the SIU faculty, the New Arts Jazztet is a music festival staple and a welcome guest at other music festivals in the region. 

Klassics for Kids and Jive with Jazz: These programs are for younger listeners.  They introduce children to forms of music with which they may not be familiar and to listening to music in a group setting. The informal atmosphere keeps it fun and light. 

Many of the music festival performances are free.  For a full schedule and additional information visit, or visit the School of Music’s festival website to learn more about other festivals.