:: Phoenicia, New York, is a small town (population 388) nestled in the Catskill Mountains. Breathtakingly beautiful if economically hurting, this hamlet is the proud home of the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice. Now in its second year, the festival began as a single concert organized by three of the town's residents who just happen to be internationally acclaimed opera singers: Kerry Henderson, Louis Otey, and Maria Todaro. As the concert morphed into a yearly four-day festival, all three agreed they wanted to create an event that would celebrate the whole spectrum of the voice, presenting world class performances of opera, song, baroque and choral music, and the vocal arts of traditional cultures.
How the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice came to be sounds a little like an old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movie, with Judy and Mickey exclaiming in answer to some financial problem, "Hey! Let's put on a show!" In this excerpt from a longer documentary by Daniel Mendelson, you'll get a look at this year's festival and find out how it all got started.
And be sure to visit our weekly Art Works podcasts for a conversation with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice co-founder and baritone Kerry Henderson about what goes into producing a festival. We also spoke with bass singer and former football player Morris Robinson, who sang the role of Il Commendatore in the festival's production of Don Giovanni, about his very unusual career trajectory.