Third Annual Palustris Festival Salutes Arts in Moore County
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
With the start of the third annual Palustris Festival just a month away, the organizers of Moore County's salute to the arts are putting the finishing touches on a program of more than 100 events taking place in 30 venues throughout the county.
Presented by the Arts Council of Moore County, Convention and Visitor's Bureau of Pinehurst, Southern Pines & Aberdeen Area, and PineStraw magazine, this year's festival takes place from March 22-25, and includes a cornucopia of diverse cultural performances, exhibitions and experiences celebrating the performing, visual and literary arts.
The unusual name of the Palustris Festival is taken from the Latin for longleaf pine, and its presenters refer to the special connection Moore County has to its virgin longleaf pine forest in the Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, the home of the oldest living longleaf pine tree in the world for more than 400 years.
Since the festival's beginning in 2010, it has taken significant steps forward as it builds on its past successes, offering new and interesting events and becoming widely known for the numerous events free and open to the public, as well as for the moderately priced tickets for some of its major performances.
"I am really excited about the 2012 Palustris Festival, where there is definitely something for everyone," says Chris Dunn, executive director of the Arts Council. "We have incredible headliners, great art exhibits, wonderful lectures, theater, dance and many more special events. We also have more hands-on events for the young and the more experienced would-be artists."
Among the headline acts performing during the festival are Peggy Seeger, a member of the world famous Seeger family and prominent figure in American folk music, and the inspired and intimate duo of renowned Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet's longtime pianist, Joey Calderazzo.
Other musical treats include the Moore County Concert Band, a Weymouth concert by Ryan Book, guitarist, and the well-known Wolff Brothers presenting a program combining classics and jazz.
The Artists League of Aberdeen, which has been an active participant in the first two Palustris Festivals, are joined this year by Pinehurst's Broadhurst Gallery with an exceptional collection spanning artistic styles from contemporary to vibrant impressionism to still-life realism.
There's also a unique exhibition at Southern Pines' Eye Candy Gallery, where the work of area photographers is matched by local artists' interpretations of the same photographs.
These are just an example of the impressive displays of the range of artistic media on view during the Palustris Festival.
Southern history is highlighted in several presentations, such as in the lecture at the Malcolm Blue Farm called "Letters to Anna," a remembrance of Stonewall Jackson by his North Carolina wife, Anna.
Southern Pines' historic Shaw House will display a selection of 19th century needlework, including vintage quilts, samplers, clothing and needlework tools.
"Perspectives on the Civil War - 150 Years Later" is the topic of a lecture being given at Sandhills Community College, which is presenting a full schedule of lectures, musical performances and other activities for the festival.
The performing arts of theater, dance and film will be in the spotlight at the Palustris Festival with such offerings as an Ava Gardner Film Festival throughout the four days.
Two Saturday performances will be given by the Longleaf Cultural Theatre Ensemble, featuring new pieces by a multi-arts ensemble, including Ray Owen, actor and writer, Rod Brower and Together-N-Unity Choir, Abigail Dowd, actress and singer-songwriter and Diana Turner-Forte, dancer and choreographer with the company of Dance Fusion.
Add to the mix at Palustris Festival the varied educational, entertaining and enlightening programs being presented by such organizations as Save Our Sandhills, the Southern Pines Library, Pinehurst's Given Library and Village Arboretum, the Aberdeen Parks and Recreation, and the schools and churches in the county, and top it off with contributions by arts-related private businesses, and the result is a collaborative effort to put on a festival that has caught the attention of the state and the region.
This sampling of the riches of the visual, performing and literary arts scene in the Sandhills taking place during the Palustris Festival prompts Chris Dunn to extend an invitation to everyone "to choose to attend as many events as they wish, and see why Palustris is truly a tribute to the arts, culture and history of Moore County."
Complete details, including ticket information and prices where applicable, locations, times and days of all of these and other happenings at the Palustris Festival may be found on the website, www.palustris festival.com, or by calling (910) 692-2787.
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