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A world-class production

June 20, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Pine Mountain Music Festival boasts five weeks of high-caliber, world-class musicians who visit the Upper Peninsula from across the globe to deliver an experience unlike any other. It's truly an opportunity that should not be missed.

"These are some of the best talent in classical music," PMMF Executive Director Sandy Lewin said of this summer's line-up.

Now in its 22nd season, PMMF welcomes the return of familiar artists including Ana Vidovic, a highly acclaimed international classical guitarist, as well as Miami, Fla.-based Bergonzi String Quartet. This year marks the Bergonzi's 17th season with the festival.

Article Photos

PMMF Executive Director Sandy Lewin and PMMF Artistic Director Joshua Major.

"We like to push the boundaries a little bit sometimes," PMMF Artistic Director Joshua Major said. "But what we do is we produce really good quality classical music."

There are two opera productions this year: Mozart's "Cos fan tutte" and Sondheim's "A Little Night Music," which offer "two views of love from very different perspectives."

Major has staged "Cosi fan tutte" in the 1950s at an Italian seaside resort. Conductor Joe Mechavich compares this comedic production to the comedy found in "I Love Lucy" with mistaken identities common to the television series. The six lead roles are performed by the Resident Opera Artists.

Major said PMMF's Resident Opera Artist program has gained the festival national attention and this year they received more than 400 applications from professional artists for the six available positions. Nearly 300 auditions were conducted in New York City and at the University of Michigan.

The focus of the program is to help musicians enter the profession and develop experience on and off stage.

"These are high level singers who are on the cusp of professional careers," Major said, noting the ROAs are performing the two opera productions. "Our goal is to make great music and give great experiences to artists."

New this year is an "UPstarts" concert featuring emerging, professional musicians originally from the Upper Peninsula. The two singers were identified during the audition process in New York.

Tenor Miles Mykkanen of Bessemer and soprano Amanda Boundy of Eben Junction will team up with flute player Savannah Clayton of Calumet and Susie Byykkonen, a pianist from Calumet. Boundy is a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute while Mykkanen is currently studying at Juilliard School. Clayton is enrolled at Ithaca College.

Some 37 performances will be presented this year including opera, musical theatre, chamber music, and classical recitals. Each year, the Festival enchants audiences in nearly a dozen towns across the central and western U.P. and northern Wisconsin.

Major said because the festival draws in between 60 and 70 artists, not to mention visitors who travel to the U.P. to see the performances, the communities which serve as the main performing locations benefit substantially.

"Not only are the artists here, but they also bring their families and friends to the area," Major said. "They inject revenue into each community by eating at local restaurants, shopping at area stores and visiting places of interest."

Major also pointed out that the festival draws audience members who dine in each community and some who stay at area lodging.

Lewin agreed, citing a 2005 survey which concluded approximately $1 million was brought back into the communities of Marquette, Iron Mountain and Houghton collectively.

"The economic impact of the festival is significant," Lewin said.

Crediting Major for his work in organizing the entertainment line-up, Lewin said PMMF benefits greatly from his ability to coordinate with various musical talents.

"He always creates an excellent season," she said, noting Major will soon become the head of opera at the New England Conservatory of Music. "He's very well networked. It is because of Josh that the festival is able to attract high-caliber performers that grace our stages."

For a complete list of times and performances, or for additional information, visit

Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Pine Mountain?Music Festival. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.



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