The Pine Mountain Music Festival (PMMF) was founded in Iron Mountain in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in 1991 by Laura Deming, a cellist and 28-year veteran of the orchestra of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Laura's minister-husband was assigned to a church in Iron Mountain when the PMMF began as a week-long chamber music series with Laura's colleagues from Chicago. It expanded to include opera by the second year, and then expanded again into other communities, each about 100 miles apart. The series has grown from five or six events in one city to 30-40 concerts, workshops, demonstrations, master classes, and lectures held in various combinations in the Houghton / Calumet area, Marquette, and Iron Mountain / Norway, with limited appearances in Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin. The Festival now spans a five-week period in June and July.
Artistic Director Joshua Major is also Head of the Opera Department at the University of Michigan's School of Music and an internationally sought stage director. He succeeds Christopher Mattaliano, who is now General Director of Portland Opera in Oregon. Featured artists include The Bergonzi String Quartet of Miami, FL, which has performed at the Festival since 1995, pianist Ralph Votapek, orchestra members from such prestigious ensembles as Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Portland Opera Orchestra, the National Symphony, Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, the Naples Symphony, Sarasota Opera and others. Other guest artists who have graced our stages from time to time have been William Bolcom and Joan Morris, pianists Kathryn Goodson and Robert Miller, harpist Liz Cifani, saxophonist Carrie Koffman, and esteemed conductor Gustav Meier.
The Festival was named an organizational winner of the coveted Governor's Awards for Arts and Culture in 1998, won the Great Lakes Community Arts Award from the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies in 2003 and earned the first National Endowment for the Arts direct grant ever awarded in the Upper Peninsula for the commissioning of The Children of the Keweenaw (premiered at the Festival in July of 2001), and is a professional member of OPERA America. The PMMF is one of only a handful of summer festivals producing a season of opera, symphony and chamber music. We are not aware of any other comprehensive classical music festival which tours as well.