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The original item was published from 6/14/2017 11:16:57 AM to 6/15/2017 10:35:28 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 and Tenor Darius Dillard, accompanied by pianist Noor Jumaa, 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.

Tenor Darius Dillard is steadily gaining momentum on regional operatic circuits. Praised for his warm legato and charismatic presence, he excels in the lyric repertoire. Having spent the majority of his career as a baritone, Dillard made a speedy switch to tenor in 2016 and made a role debut the same year as Romeo in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, MI. To date, he has performed a number of roles in operas ranging from the classical works of Mozart to the operas of Verdi and Puccini. He has appeared in leading roles and as a young artist with companies such as Connecticut Lyric Opera, Capitol Opera Raleigh, Central Piedmont Opera, as well as a featured soloist with Charleston Chamber Orchestra and with the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan.

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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