Michael Barrett and Leslie Tomkins readily admit there was a somewhat selfish reason for founding a music festival in Moab, Utah, 22 years ago. For about six months prior to their visit to Moab, the couple had already been discussing the possibility of starting another music festival. Barrett, a classical pianist from New York City, had founded the New York Festival of Song about two years prior.
When Tomkins suggested they organize the festival in Moab, Barrett thought it was a great idea. “This is a place I want to keep coming back to. We decided to start the music festival here because of the incredible natural beauty and because it was so different and had this amazing ancient quality. It feels like the oldest place on the planet, as far as I can tell,” he says. And so, the husband and wife launched the Moab Music Festival, and that gave them an excuse to return to Moab year after year.
Both Tomkins and Barrett also perform at the festival comprised of chamber music concerts, though not always in the classical sense. “We are based in classical music (I’m a pianist and Leslie plays the viola), but our tastes are pretty broad. We present all kinds of music and I think that’s been part of our success story,” says Barrett.