WINEDOWN FOR THE WEEKEND
6:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays
Weekends have a way of slipping by, fast.
Here’s a chance to grab a full-bodied, stimulating experience before anybody even starts talking about cleaning the garage.
Winedown for the Weekend happens every Friday from May through October. And, Opera ala Carte! is a 30 minute Special Feature, thrown in on the last Friday of every month just for fun!
It’s a few easy hours in the scenic vineyard accented with music by jazz and classical pianist Ben Marti. Enjoy incredible wood fired Neopolitan pizzette and other artisan flatbreads prepared with local products. There’s a tasty Swiss raclette and, of course, hand-crafted Morgan Creek Vineyards wine available by the bottle or glass.
Indoor or outdoor seating is available, and reservations are recommended – particularly for groups of eight or more.
Jazz pianist, classical student, Euro-gypsy balladeer and junkyard orchestra accordionist, Ben Marti embodies the restless musical spirit that permeates the atmosphere, the lineage, and the history of Morgan Creek Vineyards.
Ben left his native New Ulm during his high school years to continue his academics and piano studies at the Waldkirchen Gymnasium in Jandelsbrunn, Germany. He returned to the U.S. completing his high school career as an honors graduate in 1999 from the Perpich Center for the Arts, Golden Valley, Minnesota.
Ben was accepted as a Jussi Bjorling Music Scholarship recipient at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he studied from 1999 to 2003 as a student of Gustavus professor Helen Baumgartner. During his Bachelor of Arts program he entered the International Exchange Student program in Vienna, Austria, where he studied music and piano.
From 2002 - 2016 Ben was studio accompanist at Gustavus serving students and faculty, music department seminars, and theatre department productions. Currently he works at Minnesota State University Mankato in the same capacity. Ben is the pianist for Mankato Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ken Freed. He has even donned renaissance costume to perform as Young Wolfgang Mozart in the “Mozart In Me” program for youth sponsored by the Mankato Symphony.
Ben's an avid collaborator with regional artists, performers, and poets - participating for eight years in the Cambria Eisteddfod, as musical director for the Welsh Heritage event sponsored by the Blue Earth County Historical Society, and Morgan Creek Vineyards.
Ben is a founding member, lead singer, and accordionist in the Pre-Apocalyptic Junkyard Orchestra, an upbeat, eclectic ensemble that delivers jazz, gypsy, ethnic, folk, and classic rock in nightclubs and festivals around the region. He’s currently performing throughout southern Minnesota in the gypsy jazz quartet, Café au Lait, and the Ben Marti Jazz Emsemble.
As artist-in-residence at Morgan Creek Vineyards, Ben performs on Jazz Nite!, Winedown for the Weekend, and Opera ala Carte! - a street opera series of monthly performances at the winery with soprano, Stephanie Thorpe, associate professor, at the University of Minnesota State, Mankato.
In his leisure time, Ben has become an avid bicyclist - a passion which he acquired while living in Germany and Austria. He has also served at his family’s winery as assistant wine-maker, vineyard manager, and leads the annual grape harvest crush.
Morgan Creek Vineyards is excited to offer a sixth season of Opera ala Carte! featuring the vocal/piano duo, soprano Stephanie Thorpe and pianist Ben Marti. On the last Friday of each month,May through October, Morgan Creek Vineyards presents vocalist Stephanie Thorpe at Winedown for the Weekend. Up coming performances from 7:00 - 7:30: August 31, September 28, October 26.
Stephanie is a member of the voice faculty and associate professor in the Department of Music at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she teaches classical, musical theatre, and contemporary vocal genres. Prior to her faculty appointment, she performed full-time in Las Vegas for many years. Stephanie is a member of Thursday Musical, a performing arts organization in the Twin Cities. She continues to be active in opera/oratorio, musical theatre, contemporary music, and recital.
She’s a winner of the Nevada District National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards (NATSAA), and a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She also participated in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Intern Program, where she worked directly with master teacher and renowned tenor, George Shirley.
Stephanie is an active member of NATS, currently serving as the secretary for the Minnesota NATS Chapter, and is also a member of the College Music Society. She has served as an adjudicator for the North Central Regional Chapter, the Minnesota Chapter, the Cal-Western Regional Chapter, and the Las Vegas Chapter of the NATS Student Auditions, as well as for the Minnesota State High School League.
She received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and also holds degrees from the University of Iowa, and Briar Cliff University. Stephanie is certified in Contemporary Commercial Vocal Pedagogy and the Somatic VoiceWork Method. She also received a Vocology Certificate from the National Center for Voice and Speech under the tutelage of Dr. Ingo Titze and Dr. Katherine Verdolini Abbott.
Opera ala Carte!
Opera ala Carte! had its beginnings in 2013 as a collaboration between mezzo soprano, Eleda Krueger and pianist Ben Marti. Eleda and Ben offered a variety of popular art songs and opera arias in the rustic Tuscan-like setting of Morgan Creek Vineyards as part of the last Friday night of each month's Winedown for the Weekend.
The works of Carmen, La Traviata, Gianni Schicci, Barber of Seville, Samson and Delilah and more were regulars on the ala Carte! menu.
The Opera ala Carte! performances conclude with a traditional sing-a-long for everyone to join and raise a glass in song! For classical enthusiasts as well as the opera-curious, these evenings bring together the passion of opera and the pleasure of good company in a scenic, casual setting. We have a lot to sing about.
Opera ala Carte! perfomances happen from 7:00 - 7:30 pm, last Friday of each month, during Winedown for the Weekend 6:30 - 9:00 pm.
Indoor or outdoor seating is available, and reservations are recommended – particularly for groups of eight or more. Or call 507-947-3547.