On Saturday, May 17th, Arcosanti hosted the 17th edition of the Arizona Vivaldi Festival, an annual event presented by Arts Renaissance Initiative.  The festival began earlier this month with events in Phoenix, is a celebration of “the maestro’s magic in song, dance, dinner and glass.” 

[photo: Sue Kirsch, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

This year’s Vivaldi Festival brought together a wonderful array of performers and artists: soprano Eileen Mager, pianist GayNell Cronin, violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, painter Jim Covarrubius, Terpiscore Dance Company, Zona Flamenca with Bernadette Gaxiola, and glass artists Joshua Dopp and Brigid O’Malley.

[photo: Conrad Strano-Mcanany, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

In keeping with Arcosanti’s traditional event-night experience, the evening began at 5 pm with an after-hours tour of Arcosanti, this time led by Arcosanti’s ecotourism coordinator, naturalist Anne-Marie Vaduva. 

[photo: Steven Bochinski, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

At 6 pm, attendees gathered in the Cafe at Arcosanti for a sold-out 6-course meal created by Chef M. Ali Sadiqi and his team of dedicated staff and volunteers.  With a menu of such culinary delights as classic Caprese sald with Arcosanti basil, fresh trout, roast potatoes with truffle oil, and a sweet polenta souffle with chocolate-hazelnut sauce, it was a full house of satisfied palettes!

[photo: Conrad Strano-Mcanany, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

Following dinner, guests had the opportunity to see a live Venetian glassblowing demonstration (and a rare glimpse inside the Arcosanti Lab Building) with Joshua Dopp and his Highway Hotshop, a portable glass studio.  Josh’s demonstration highlighted a weekend of glass-working activities at Arcosanti that included his 3-day workshop and fellow glass artist Brigid O’Malley’s afternoon presentation on architectural glass–keep an eye out for a glass workshop with Brigid at Arcosanti this fall.  As part of the evening, one of Joshua’s pieces was raffled off to raise funds for the Arcosanti community–the lucky winner turned out to be one of the stars of the festival, Eileen Mager! More about the glass workshop in Friday, 5/23/2014 report.

[photo: Conrad Strano-Mcanany, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

Around 7:30, the audience settled into the Colly Soleri Music Center Amphitheater for the concert itself, which began with a tribute to Paolo Soleri from festival organizer and ARI founder Michel Sarda. 

With great humor and scholarship, Eileen Mager guided the audience through a selection of Vivaldi arias, Terpiscore Dance Company transformed orchestral pieces into modern movement, Thula Ngwenyama enchanted us with her Stradivarius renditions of several works, Zona Flamenca infused classical music with the energy and passion of flamenco, and Jim Covarrubius created an original painting (also raffled off to a lucky audience member at the end of the night) live onstage as the concert unfolded.

[photo: Steven Bochinski, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

With its unique constellation of inter-disciplinary, cross-cultural and trans-historical interpretations of one of the world’s great composers, the Arizona Vivaldi Festival remains one of Arcosanti’s premiere events–we look forward to next year’s iteration!

[photo: Steven Bochinski, text: Kate Bemesderfer]

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