The International Artist Series of Minot opens its 64th season of entertaining area audiences on Oct. 4 with a program of dueling opera stars.
Set to follow are a rocking string quartet, a stirring program by American Spirit, tenor Mark Masri and recording guitar stand-out Edgar Cruz.
And if those five concerts weren't attraction enough, series leader Ellin Lindee announced the group has cut ticket prices in half to encourage area people discouraged by flooding.
"Music is a wonderful respite from what people are experiencing homes, schools, churches and jobs all so sadly affected," she said.
"Everyone in the area is suffering, and we could scrape out enough money to cut prices and still bring all this wonderful talent," series official David Lindee added.
Tickets this season will be $30 for adults, $15 for students, and a family and grandparent package of $75. For information, call Nancy Baumann, publicist, or 858-0863. She also is seeking volunteers to recruit new series members.
All concerts will be in Minot State University's Ann Nicole Nelson Hall.
David Lindee said the concerts, in addition to being family-friendly, offer education packages. Area students will come to the Minot Auditorium to learn from top-notch musicians, beginning with third- and fourth-grade students who will enjoy the dueling divas.
The America Spirit cast will lead a master class for MSU music and theater students. The group will also incorporate local choirs in their performance, Ellin Lindee said, and an area youth will sing the national anthem.
"Wendy Reynolds and Birgit Fioravanta, the dueling divas who open the series, have wonderful chemistry," she said. "They go from singing arias right into belting out Ethel Merman, but you can't pull that off without the talent to really sing."
The sopranos and their pianist, Heather Coltman, have delighted both audiences and critics from their native Florida to Long Island, Ill., and Atlanta. Their individual records are impressive but the combination multiplies the effect.
A classical string quartet that rocks is the second standout concert. Classical they are, but Carpe Diem's music passions also lean toward tango, gypsy, pop, rock and jazz sounds. Their inventive school outreach incorporates video game songs and TV and movie themes.
Carpe Diem, in residence at Ohio Wesleyan University, got Grammy nods in 2009 for best classical, chamber music, new artist and best-engineered classic albums.
Mark Masri will bring delight to series listeners on Jan. 27, combining his passionate tenor with expressive lyrics and elegant delivery. Often compared to Luther Vandross and Seal, the Toronto native has performed since he was 5. He also is a pianist, songwriter and producer.
His concerts are in no way diminished by his tall, dark and handsome appearance, Ellin Lindee said. He also sings in six languages.
"American Spirit," a Matt Davenport production, takes audiences through a journey from the birth of the nation to a contemporary July 4 celebration. Ten multi-talented performers use a powerful 90-minute song, dance and storytelling trip through parades, battlefields and town halls. From Prohibition and Civil War spirituals, their video images and local talent provide a surround sound of history.
Edgar Cruz's guitar mastery creates a symphony of sound from classic to 1950s rock with only a guitar. His repertoire ranges among "Malaguena" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "In the Mood," "Dueling Banjos" and "Hotel California."
Cruz, who had performed in North America, Europe and South America, has headlined the prestigious Chet Atkins Guitar Festival in Nashville since 1995.