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    Tue, 02 Jul 2013 17:04:12

    Woof Fest Is Coming - Find out what/when/where

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    Woof woof! Higgins, Toby and Laney, the ARTISTdirect canine mascots, have some news for you, dog lovers.

    Woof Fest, the pop culture experience created for pooch people, arrives in Philadelphia on August 24 for a fun-filled, family night outside. Bringing together an emotional roller-coaster of music, videos and pictorial tributes of movie dogs to cartoon dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, rescue dogs and the family dog—aka your dog, Woof Fest unites some of the most beloved canine moments from past and present.

    OMG! This is pooch utopia! Poochtopia!

    Backed by an orchestra of more than 80 featuring members of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, acclaimed Maestro Steven Mercurio—the visionary behind this one-of-a-kind family event—will conduct the first-ever symphony composed entirely in celebration of man's best friend, known as A Grateful Tail, as a part of the event. Woof Fest isn't just fun for the whole family, it captures the universal love of dogs; visually, musically and theatrically.

    Demonstrating his affection and reverence for dogs, composer and conductor Steven Mercurio—who has composed arrangements for such acclaimed artists as Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo, and countless others—created Woof Fest to combine musical and visual tributes in celebration of dogs and the people who love them. Dogs are encouraged—more than encouraged, invited—to attend the summer concert series that will be held exclusively at outdoor venues. Woof Fest is produced by Gelb Promotions and is perfect for families to celebrate their special bond with their canine through a night of song, imagery, and dance.

    As an evening in two parts, Woof Fest will first take the audience on a family-friendly, multimedia journey of dog-themed experiences throughout the ages. From John Alden Carpenter's "Dogs" (from Adventures in a Perambulator) and George Gershwin's "Walking the Dog" (from the movie, Shall We Dance?) to a tribute to working/military dogs/service dogs known as "Fido," featuring Beethoven, Haydn and Stephen Foster, and Elvis Presley's "You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog," listeners will move through time and musical genres all while visually paying homage to man's best friend through pictorial representations of famous and heroic pooches of past and present. Pop, rock, and folk tributes will include appearances by Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion singing the Paul McCarthy-penned Beatles' tune "Martha My Dear" along with international guest, Icelandic singer Yohanna, among others.

    After intermission, the first movement of A Grateful Tail, "Siriusly – Dog Star," will set the tone for Maestro Steven Mercurio's work and depicts the early stage of puppy-hood. The second movement, "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, peacefully..." is a lyrical intermezzo bringing to life the contented, peaceful nature of a dog's character. The third movement, or "Last Will and Testament," is the cornerstone of the work and Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, Homeland) will perform the featured role of the "Old Dying Dog," singing the text of the highly acclaimed American playwright Eugene O'Neill. The last movement of the work is "Wagging the Tail," the finale to the symphony. Utilizing samba rhythms and the energy of a large gospel choir, a propulsive and life-affirming ending will leave the audience dancing in the aisles as they celebrate their love of dogs.

    "It's a fabulous role, and I happen to love dogs," said F. Murray Abraham. "When you play an animal, there are no limits to what you can do. I've played vicious sharks of people and snakes in the grass, but never a dog—such a loveable animal. I have to work at not weeping when I am singing this—because it's hard to cry and sing at the same time."

    "I was inspired to create this symphonic tribute to dogs shortly after my beloved 15-year-old poodle succumbed to old age," said Maestro Steven Mercurio. "A sympathetic friend sent me a copy of Eugene O'Neill's letter in which he encourages dog owners not to grieve death but to rejoice in the happy life they shared. I knew immediately that I was going to set it to music and A Grateful Tail was born."

    A Grateful Tail—a four-movement classical symphony for orchestra, vocalist and gospel choir— will have its world premiere at the Prague Proms on July 3, conducted by celebrated Maestro Steven Mercurio. Based on American playwright Eugene O'Neill's Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O'Neill—a comforting letter of love to his wife after the loss of their family's Dalmation, it is the first-ever symphony to be written entirely in celebration of dogs. An album of the same name—A Grateful Tail—will be released in conjunction with the open-air Woof Fest concert tour on July 9, 2013.

    August 24, 2013 8PM Mann Center Philadelphia, PA
    August 25, 2013 8PM Merriweather Post Pavilion Columbia,MD

    For more info, visit http://www.wooffest.com/.

    Who loves dogs and thinks this is brilliant?

    —Maggie Pannacione

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    Tags: Sting, Andrea Bocelli, John Alden Carpenter, George Gershwin, Haydn, Elvis Presley, Johnny Irion, Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Yohanna, Steven Mercurio, F. Murray Abraham, Shall We Dance?

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