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The original item was published from 6/15/2017 10:35:00 AM to 7/1/2017 12:00:06 AM.

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Canton Liberty Fest

Posted on: June 14, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Canton’s International Festival To Feature Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan Singers

Canton’s International Festival returns to Heritage Park on Saturday, June 17, 2017, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., during Canton’s 26th Annual Liberty Fest. One of the many featured performances slated to take place at 12:30 p.m. during the International Festival is a special appearance by Soprano Ryan Blankenburg, Mezzo-Soprano Gillian Lynn Cotter, and Tenor John Riesen with Noor Jumaa, Piano collaborator, from the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan.

Soprano Ryan Blankenburg, currently a sophomore student at The Roeper School in Birmingham, has been a member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus for 5 years. This talented performer has appeared in productions such as La Boheme, Carmen, Turandot, The Magic Flute, The Mikado, and The Very Last Green Thing at the Detroit Opera House. Recently, Blankenburg won the Rochester Tuesday Musicale and the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan’s Italian Songs and Arias Vocal Competition. In addition to singing, she plays the piano, alto saxophone, drum set, and enjoys songwriting and composition.

Mezzo-soprano Gillian Lynn Cotter has received favorable reviews from all around the country for her performance. Praised by The Buffalo News as being "creative, funny and clear-voiced" ,  and  the  Boston  Arts  Examiner   as "making a comedic splash...[Ms. Cotter] displayed commendable vocal agility", Ms. Cotter is making her mark as a committed and talented young artist in the opera world. In her portrayal of Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw at New England Conservatory, The Boston Music Intelligencer claimed,  “Gillian Lynn Cotter...sang with richness and conviction, and had a great stage presence—direct, earnest—that captured the character nicely". Ms. Cotter was described as"impeccable" and "suitably winsome" for her performance in the title role of Rinaldo with Fresco Opera Theatre. Broadway World claimed, "Embodying every raw emotion...Cotter’s crisp voice gives Handel’s music the beauty it deserves."

Tenor John Riesen will perform two of the most thrilling arias in opera: Verdi’s "La donna e’ Mobile", from Rigoletto; and Puccini’s "Nessun Dorma", from Turandot.

Pianist Noor Jumaa was born in Iraq in 1985 and lived there until 2009. In June 2009 she moved with my family to Lebanon, where they applied for immigration. In 2011 they received the approval to immigrate to the United States, and have been here since July 2011. Jumaa’s love for music started when she was 4 years old, and that’s when she started taking lessons from her first piano teacher, my uncle. Jumaa has a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2007, but that did not stop her from growing in music.  She has continued practicing and teaching herself until she was finally able to major in music when she arrived in the US in 2011. Jumaa now holds a bachelor degree in piano performance from Wayne State University. 

The Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan, founded in 1988 and based in Canton, MI, is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting the development of young opera singers, and to fostering appreciation of the music of Giuseppe Verdi and other composers of opera and popular music for the theatre, for everyone’s enjoyment and cultural enrichment.

Don’t miss these talented vocalists perform on Saturday, June 17, at 12:30 p.m., in Heritage Park on the Canton LIVE! Stage during Canton’s 26th Annual Liberty Fest, a three-day community festival featuring two stages of live entertainment and family fun for all ages. Festival-goers are encouraged to enjoy a variety of cultures from around the world, who will be showcased on Saturday, June 17, 2017, with free performances from 11:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., on the Canton LIVE! Stage in Heritage Park, located in Canton, MI. Featured cultures include: China, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Tahiti, the United States, Native American, African American and Hawaiian/Polynesian.

For additional information about this year’s International Festival, which is presented by the Canton Commission for Culture, Arts & Heritage’s Multicultural Committee, visit or call 734/394-5300.

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