Whether you're headed to Cape Cod, the Hamptons or points upstate, summer is the season for music festivals. Here are 15 highlights. Consult our map to find the quickest getaway route – and share your summer favorites in the comments box below.
Bard Summerscape (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
July 5-August 18 · 845-758-7900 · fishercenter.bard.edu
Bard president and conductor Leon Botstein, the American Symphony Orchestra, and visiting musicians and scholars delve into the music of Igor Stravinsky and his contemporaries. Among the highlights, Sergey Taneyev’s Oresteia, an opera based on Aeschylus’ Greek trilogy, gets its US stage premiere (July 26-Aug. 4) and Bill T. Jones and theater director Anne Bogart collaborate on a new work celebrating the centennial of The Rite of Spring (July 6-7).
♪ Our pick: Weekend One of the Bard Music Festival (August 9-11)
This weekend features performances of Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Concerto for Two Pianos and Les Noces, plus works by Maximilian Steinberg, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Erik Satie.
Boston Early Music Festival (Boston)
June 9-16 · Tel: 617-661-1812 · www.bemf.org
Lutes, gambas and harpsichords are the defining sounds of this early-music extravaganza. That includes a fully-staged performance of Handel's Almira; a sampler program from the Hilliard Ensemble; Biblical laments from the group Atalante; and the Cantigas de Santa Maria performed by the Newberry Consort.
♪ Our Pick: Hespèrion XXI at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory (June 15)
Gamba player Jordi Savall pays homage to the cultural melting pot that is Istanbul with a program of songs, dances and prayers from Armenian and Sephardic Jewish musical traditions. The Hespèrion XXI ensemble is supplemented by musicians from Turkey, Morocco and Armenia.
Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (Bridgehampton, NY)
July 24 – August 18 · 631-537-6368 · www.bcmf.org
Amid the glitz of the Hamptons (and all that implies) the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival continues to turn out lively and thoughtful programming. Founded in 1984 by the flutist Marya Martin, it has become the longest-running summer music series on the East End. The festival's 30th season features a large roster of prominent New York musicians.
♪ Our Pick: “From the Mountain to the Moon” (Aug. 14)
This mid-week concert showcases Crumb’s Night of the Four Moons, inspired by the Apollo 11 moon expedition in 1969; Robert Beaser’s Grammy-nominated Mountain Songs; Fauré’s First Piano Quartet, plus gems by Brahms and Prokofiev. Violinist Ani Kavafian, pianist Shai Wosner and guitarist Jason Vieaux are among the performers.
Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival
July 30-August 23 · 508-247-9400 · www.capecodchambermusic.org
Artistic directors Jon Nakamatsu (piano) and Jon Manasse (clarinet) helm this 34-year-old festival in various towns on Cape Cod. This year’s highlights include a tribute to Van Cliburn (Aug. 2); the American String Quartet with cellist Clive Greensmith (Aug. 5); and the Escher Quartet and assorted guests (Aug. 16).
♪ Our Pick: In Tribute to Van Cliburn (Aug. 2)
The Wellfleet Congregational Church hosts this tribute with pianists Haochen Zhang, André-Michel Schub and Jon Nakamatsu, and works by Debussy, Mozart, Chopin and others. Richard Dyer, the retired classical music critic of the Boston Globe, emcees the event.
Caramoor Festival (Katonah, NY)
June 22-August 7 · Tel: 914-232-1252 · Web: www.caramoor.org
Variety is the spice of this festival set on a genteel estate just an hour north of Manhattan. Chamber music takes place in the charming Spanish Courtyard, with groups like Brooklyn Rider (July 7), the Vienna Piano Trio (July 5) and Amphion Quartet (July 19). There are also pop, folk and Broadway performers, notably Suzanne Vega (Aug. 2) and Audra McDonald (Aug. 3), plus the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (Aug. 4).
♪ Our Pick: The Intimate Verdi (June 27)
Verdi likely will never be known for his chamber music but that doesn’t deny the appeal of a program featuring soprano Angela Meade and several top-notch string players. The program includes the Palestrina-flabored Ave Maria volgarizzata da Dante, and the composer’s rarely-performed String Quartet in E minor.
Glimmerglass Opera (Cooperstown, NY)
July 6-August 24 · Tel: 607-547-2255 · www.glimmerglass.org
Birthday boys Verdi and Wagner are top of the agenda this summer, with performances of The Flying Dutchman and Verdi’s rarely staged comic opera King for a Day. Other highlights include a double bill featuring a new production of David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo.
♪ Our Pick: The Flying Dutchman (July 6-Aug. 24)
Artistic and general director Francesca Zambello stages a new production of Wagner’s stormy opera that's said to take inspiration from the Hudson River School of painting. Ryan McKinny is the Dutchman, Melody Moore is Senta, Jay Hunter Morris plays Erik and Peter Volpe sings the role of Daland. John Keenan conducts.
Lincoln Center Festival (New York, NY)
July 6-28 · Tel: 212-721-6500 · www.lincolncenterfestival.org
Lincoln Center’s marquee summer event will open with Monkey: Journey to the West (right). Described as a mash-up of opera, martial arts and cartoon segments, it will be given 27 performances at the David H. Koch Theater (July 6-28). The work, which originally premiered in 2007, will be directed by Chinese opera specialist Chen Shi-Zheng, and feature music by Damon Albarn of the band Blur. Other music offerings include a portion of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s mammoth Licht opera cycle, performed by Cologne-based Ensemble musikFabrik (July 18-20);
♪ Our Pick: Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (July 9-14)
"Please note,” Lincoln Center advises patrons for The Blind on its website. “Audience members will be blindfolded for the duration of the performance.” Consider yourself warned. The opera for 12 a cappella voices is based on a play by Maurice Maeterlinck about a priest who leads a group of blind men on a perilous journey.
Make Music New York (New York, NY)
June 21 · Tel: 917-779-9709 · makemusicny.org
On one day, hundreds of concurrent performances take place in band shells and under bridges, on piers and sidewalks. Highlights are to include composer Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning, presented by Mantra Percussion. Each section of the five-hour piece will be performed in a different lower Manhattan location. Also: the Central Park Lake will be the site for R. Murray Schafer's Credo for 12 SATB choirs, and his Music for Wilderness Lake performed by TILT Brass at dawn and at dusk.
Marlboro Festival (Marlboro, VT)
July 13-August 11 · Tel: 215-569-4690 · Web: www.marlboromusic.org
Rising stars and seasoned veterans share the stage in weekend chamber music concerts at this long-running festival. The repertory is programmed on short notice, but the standards are high. Leon Fleisher joins the roster this summer, while artistic director Mitsuko Uchida goes on a season-long hiatus.
♪ Our Pick: Almost any weekend promises something worthwhile.
Maverick Concerts (Woodstock, NY)
June 15-September 8 · 845.679.8217 · www.maverickconcerts.org
Don’t tell Music Mountain, that festival across the Connecticut state border, but Maverick Concerts, also bills itself as America’s oldest continuous summer chamber music festival. Who is right may depend how one defines the terms. Nevertheless, this year’s event includes a who’s-who of string quartets including the Miro Quartet (June 30), Jupiter Quartet (July 21), Escher Quartet (July 28), Borromeo (Aug. 18, pictured right) and Enso (Aug. 25). (Photo: Renee Samuels)
♪ Our Pick: A Portrait: Britten at Woodstock (July 27)
The festival’s resident orchestra, tenor Paul Appleby and others present Les Illuminations, for tenor and string orchestra, plus other works by Benjamin Britten whose centennial is later this year.
Metropolitan Opera Summer Recitals (New York City Parks)
July 16-August 1 · 212-362-6000 · www.metopera.org
The Met presents its annual round of free park recitals through New York’s five boroughs. The soprano Erin Morley, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and tenor Stephen Costello, accompanied by the pianist Bradley Moore, will sing at Central Park’s SummerStage on 16 July and at Brooklyn Bridge Park on 19 July. From there, the soprano Ying Fang, tenor Mario Chang and bass-baritone Brandon Cede, again with Moore, travel to the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens.
Mostly Mozart Festival (New York, NY)
July 27-August 24 · 212-721-6500 · www.mostlymozart.org
The festival theme, the “Musical Lineage between Mozart and Beethoven,” makes this summer’s festival truer to its namesake than it has been in recent years. The Emerson Quartet makes its first NYC appearance with its new cellist, Paul Watkins, in the three Beethoven Razumovsky Quartets; Paul Lewis plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major (Aug. 6-7); Isabelle Faust solos in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (“Turkish”); and Joshua Bell performs the Tchaikovsky Concerto (Aug. 20-21). International Contemporary Ensemble returns as the ensemble-in-residence, and will give the local premiere of David Lang’s Whisper Opera (Aug. 10-11).
♪ Our Pick: Budapest Festival Orchestra: Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (August 11-15)
Conductor Ivan Fischer leads a staged concert complete with “floating costumes” for singers to slip on and off, depending on the scene.
Music Mountain (Lakeville, CT)
June 16-September 8 · Tel: 860-824-7126 · www.musicmountain.org
Billing itself as the oldest continuous continuing chamber music festival in the U.S., Music Mountain devotes its 84th season to seldom-played works by well-known composers. Artists include the Miro, Amphion, Cassatt and Shanghai Quartets, among other ensembles, plus jazz and swing from Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.
♪ Our Pick: Matt Haimovitz and Geoffrey Burleson (June 16)
Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Geoffrey Burleson kick things off with an afternoon of Bach, Schubert, Prokofiev and some Elliott Carter for good measure. A cocktail reception follows.
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Norfolk, CT)
June 22-August 17 · Tel: 860-542-3000 · music.yale.edu/Norfolk
At this 74-year-old festival in Northwest Connecticut, the Tokyo String Quartet gives its farewell concert on July 6, a benefit for the music shed restoration. Other performances include the Emerson Quartet (Aug. 3), Brentano (Aug. 10), Artis Quartet (July 13) and Jasper Quartet (July 19).
♪ Our Pick: Yale Choral Artists (June 22)
Just a year old, Yale Choral Artists is the latest addition to Yale University’s well-regarded choral roster. Directed by Jeffrey Douma, the ensemble will fill the shed with two Russian sacred works: Pavel Chesnokov’s Salvation is Created and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil.
Tanglewood (Lenox, MA)
July 5-September 1 · 888.266.1200 · www.tanglewood.org
The granddaddy of the big amphitheater festivals features plenty of boldfaced name performers from the worlds of classical music, pops, folk, Broadway and jazz. Highlights include the Goat Rodeo Sessions (Aug. 15), Russian pianist Daniil Trifanov (Aug. 22), Harbison’s The Great Gatsby (July 11), and Mahler’s Third Symphony, played by the Boston Symphony and featuring mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter (July 6).
♪ Our Pick: Verdi Requiem (July 27)
Andris Nelsons makes his first Boston Symphony appearance since being named music director with Verdi’s Requiem. The vocal quartet features Nelsons’s wife, Kristīne Opolais, plus Lioba Braun, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Dmytro Popov.
Tannery Pond Concerts (New Lebanon, NY)
May 25-Sept. 21 · 888-820-1696 · www.tannerypondconcerts.org
Concerts at this festival take place in a 300-seat, wood-lined room that was a former Shaker tannery. The lineup this year includes Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley (May 25), the Miro Quartet (July 27) and the Brentano Quartet (Sept. 21).
♪ Our Pick: Vassily Primakov and Natalia Lavrova (Aug. 17)
Moscow-born, Juilliard-trained, these two pianists have started a record label together, LP Classics, and both specialize in Slavic repertoire. Primakov will play several solo selections by Chopin before the two join forces in four-hand arrangements of Rachmaninoff.