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Listen Up: Manitoba’s music scene a year-round party

Published: 02/13/2013

A few venerable music festivals are the cornerstone of Manitoba's arts and culture scene.

While most of the province's festival hoopla concentrates in the summer months, February is firmly New Music Festival territory. Hosted by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the New Music Festival celebrates the best modern minds in orchestration. Modern compositions and guest artists-like 2013's Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers-make this annual festival a world-renowned groundbreaker.

And in Winnipeg there's no feeling better than tucking into a cozy seat at the Centennial Concert Hall while the north wind blows outside. Pre-show, the auditorium buzzes with energy. During the show, the performances are an escape to another time and place. The excitement doesn't end with standing ovations. During the Nightly After Party fans rub elbows and interact with the most reputed names in the modern music world. Only in a city like Winnipeg-and at festivals like New Music-are musicians so accessible. This year's edition of the New Music Festival runs January 28 to February 2, 2013.

Other top Manitoba music events to sing the praises of:

International Winnipeg Jazz Festival: Set on different stages throughout Winnipeg's historic Exchange district, this burgeoning festival features both up-and-comers and some of the hottest jazz and blues headliners from around the world. Be a local and head to Old Market Square's free stage for evening concerts on closing weekend. Date: June 13 to 22, 2013.

Dauphin Countryfest: Set in the hills of Manitoba's Parkland Region, Countryfest is Canada's longest running country music gathering. This historic site gets turned upside down every July long weekend when thousands gather at this jamboree to worship some of the biggest names in business. Past superstars include: Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Alabama and Rascal Flatts. This year, Carrie Underwood and Dierks Bentley headline the show. Date: June 27 to 30, 2013.

Winnipeg Folk Festival: This internationally acclaimed "green festival" is set against the beauty of prairie sunsets and lushness of Birds Hill Provincial Park. This five-day celebration of people and music features more than 60 acts on several daytime stages and an evening main stage. Discover accomplished and emerging artists, legends, locals and some of the best new folk voices from around the world. Date: July 10 to 14, 2013.

Aboriginal Music Week: Clubs and live music venues in Winnipeg's core erupt with performances by indigenous artists from Canada, the US and around the globe. Hip hop, rock, folk, blues, electric, country and world music are represented. These passionate artists have also made it their cause to use music and culture to engage Aboriginal youth. The music week runs in conjunction with Manito Ahbee, a celebration of Aboriginal culture that includes an internationally renowned pow wow and Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. Date: August 16 to 21, 2013.

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