After the extended, brutal winter that pummeled much of the U.S., summer festival season may be especially welcome this year: A chance to hear great music and relax in the great outdoors (and a few air-conditioned auditoriums for good measure).
Consult our lawn-by-lawn guide to the tristate region's top offerings.
View NYC Area Summer Festivals 2014 in a larger map
Bard Summerscape (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
June 27-August 17 · 845-758-7900 · fishercenter.bard.edu
Perhaps the most scholarly festival of the crowd, Bard Summerscape features college president and conductor Leon Botstein, the American Symphony Orchestra and visiting experts and musicians exploring the music and short life of Franz Schubert, as well as his famous and little-known contemporaries. The core of the summer occurs during the Bard Music Festival – a festival-within-a-festival, from Aug. 8-10 & 15-17 – which is billed as an immersive look at Schubert’s Romantic legend and his originality.
♪ Our pick: Bard SummerScape isn’t all Schubert, however. It will present Weber's darkly gothic opera Euryanthe (July 25-Aug. 3), in what the festival says is the work's first American revival in nearly a century.
Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (Bridgehampton, NY)
July 30 – August 24 · 631-537-6368 · www.bcmf.org
The Hamptons isn’t all about posh parties and beautiful beaches. The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival presents four weeks of thoughtful and lively programs played by a roster of prominent, mostly New York-based musicians. The quartet Brooklyn Rider, pianist Joyce Yang, cellist Carter Brey, violist Cynthia Phelps and violinist Ani Kavafian are among the artists on this year's calendar.
♪ Our pick: Howard Shore’s A Palace Upon the Ruins for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, piano, harp and percussion, will show off the intimate side of a composer better known for giant film scores like "The Lord of the Rings." The program also features works by Fauré and Falla, and a lineup that includes mezzo Jennifer Johnson Cano and festival co-founder and flutist Marya Martin.
Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival
July 9-August 22 · 508-247-9400 · www.capecodchambermusic.org
The pianist Jon Nakamatsu and the clarinetist Jon Manasse are the artistic directors of this series of concerts in various Cape Cod towns. They will perform in a lineup that includes the Boston Cello Quartet (July 29), Emerson Quartet (July 31), Cypress Quartet (Aug. 11-12), Escher Quartet (Aug. 17) and Borromeo Quartet (Aug. 19).
♪ Our pick: Chamber music in Wellfleet (Aug. 15), with an impressive lineup performing works by Kreisler, Crumb, Debussy, Ravel, Mendelssohn and other composers.
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, NY)
June 21-August 6 · Tel: 914-232-1252 · www.caramoor.org
Held on a genteel estate 90 minutes north of New York City, this festival presents a broad assortment of programming. Chamber music takes place in the charming Spanish Courtyard, and this year will include the Juilliard Quartet (June 29), Dover Quartet (July 11), and artist-in-residence Alisa Weilerstein (July 31, Aug. 1 & 3). There are also pop, Broadway and folk artists, including Rosanne Cash, who headlines a day-long American roots festival (June 28). The Orchestra of St. Luke’s helps to open and close the festival, with Joshua Bell and Weilerstein the respective as soloists.
♪ Our pick: Conductor Will Crutchfield’s "Bel Canto at Caramoor" series is one of the dependable summer opera franchises. Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia is this year’s highlight. The production stars soprano Angela Meade, whose Norma at the festival helped to launch her career.
Glimmerglass Opera (Cooperstown, NY)
July 11-August 26 · Tel: 607-547-2255 · www.glimmerglass.org
Glimmerglass is one of the closest stops to New York for serious opera fans every summer. This year’s productions are Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. Artist in residence Christine Goerke will perform a concert and Jessye Norman gives a master class.
♪ Our pick: An upstate New York country home inspires a new staging of Ariadne auf Naxos, directed by Glimmerglass artistic director Francesca Zambello. Christine Goerke sings the title role, Rachele Gilmore is Zerbinetta, and Kathleen Kelly conducts.
Lincoln Center Festival (New York, NY)
July 7-August 16 · Tel: 212-721-6500 · www.lincolncenterfestival.org
Lincoln Center's marquee summer event features a residency by the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera. While the scandal-plagued ballet company will no doubt grab many of the headlines, not to be overlooked is the local debut of the Bolshoi Opera, Orchestra and Chorus. The company will give two performances of a concert version of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride, based on the true tale of Marfa, the unlucky bride of Ivan the Terrible.
♪ Our pick: Not to be overlooked are three performances of The Passenger, Mieczyslaw Weinberg's long-suppressed 1968 Holocaust opera in a production by Houston Grand Opera. It will be staged in the Armory’s 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall, and star Melody Moore, Michelle Breedt and Joseph Kaiser.
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 along sidewalks. The full lineup has yet to be announced as of press time but past year’s events have taken place in Central Park’s lakes, under city bridges, on subway platforms and even in prisons.
♪ Our pick: Among this year's headline events is 100+ BPM, a large traveling brass and percussion band piece, written by Sunny Jain of the band Red Barat, which will move in parts through Brooklyn and converge on Grand Army Plaza. NPR Music will film the performance for its "Field Recording" series.
Marlboro Festival (Marlboro, VT)
July 19-August 15 · Tel: 215-569-4690 · Web: www.marlboromusic.org
The Marlboro Music Festival, led by pianist and artistic director Mitsuko Uchida, pairs established professionals and emerging artists for three weeks of intensive chamber music study followed by weekend performances. As longtime co-artistic director Richard Goode steps aside, pianist Leon Fleisher will be a guest artist this year.
♪ Our pick: Programs are determined a weekly basis, depending on how the rehearsal process is taking shape. With that in mind, no particular concert stands out above -- or below -- the rest.
Maverick Concerts (Woodstock, NY)
June 21-September 7 · 845.679.8217 · www.maverickconcerts.org
The 150th birthday of Richard Strauss is among the threads running through the 99th season of Maverick Concerts. There will be appearances by the Enso Quartet with pianist Frederic Chiu (July 13), the Modigliani Quartet (Aug. 2), Jupiter Quartet (Aug. 24), Pacifica Quartet (Aug. 31) and American Quartet (Sept. 7). A jazz series features the pianist Lara Downes (July 12), the Harlem String Quartet (July 19) and the pianist Fred Hersch (Aug. 2).
♪ Our pick: An Aug. 23 chamber orchestra concert celebrates the friendship between Manuel de Falla and Federico García Lorca with music by Revueltas, Ginastera, de Falla and Holt. The pianist Jenny Lin and mezzos Lucy Schaufer and Maria Todaro are the soloists. Latin American repertoire isn't such an everyday occurence on the summer festival circuit, making this program especially unique.
Mostly Mozart Festival (New York, NY)
July 27-August 24 · 212-721-6500 · www.mostlymozart.org
Looking to revisit (or perhaps hear for the first time) landmark repertoire? Mostly Mozart may be your best bet. The Festival Orchestra presents Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with pianist Stephen Osborne (Aug. 2), Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Christian Tetzlaff (Aug. 5-6), Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony led by Giandrea Noseda (Aug. 12-13) and Mozart’s Requiem led by music director Louis Langree (Aug. 22-23). For more offbeat options, the International Contemporary Ensemble plays three concerts of modern music at the Park Avenue Armory (Aug. 17-21) and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra presents a concert version of Handel’s Teseo (Aug. 17).
♪ Our pick: The festival opens with Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams’s Sila: the Breath of the World. The piece takes its inspiration from an Inuit tradition involving a ‘spirit that animates all things—the wind, the weather, and all forces of nature.’ Scored for woodwinds, brass, percussion and singers, the performance will take place on Lincoln Center’s Plaza, where audiences can roam freely.
Music Mountain (Lakeville, CT)
June 7-September 14 · Tel: 860-824-7126 · www.musicmountain.org
Set on a hilltop in Northwestern Connecticut, this festival – now 85 years old – is known as a summertime string quartet mecca. Among this year’s groups are the Emerson Quartet (a June 15 gala), Juilliard Quartet (June 29), Orion String Quartet and Peter Serkin (July 20), the Harlem Quartet with Mischa Dichter (Aug. 3), and Shanghai Quartet (Aug. 31).
♪ Our pick: On June 15, the Enso Quartet from New York presents Puccini’s lush Chrysanthemums, Ravel’s String Quartet and Mozart’s Piano Quintet in E Major with the glamorous pianist Soyeon Kate Lee.
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Norfolk, CT)
June 14-August 16 · 860-542-3000 · music.yale.edu/Norfolk
This historic festival, run by the Yale School of Music, features a wide array of concerts and lectures in its 109-year-old Music Shed. The festival opens on June 14 with big-band music and 1920s-inspired dancing. The Brentano Quartet will be in residence and give concerts on July 18 and 19. Other highlights include the Artis Quartet (July 5), the Emerson Quartet (Aug. 2) and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (Aug. 15).
♪ Our pick: Music for the Fourth: The festival has cooked up a July Fourth concert free of the usual clichés. The Artis Quartet, flutist Carol Wincenc, pianist Peter Frankl and several other notable artists will play works by Bernstein, Griffiths, Dvorak, Dohnanyi and Weber.
Princeton Festival (Princeton, NJ)
June 7-29 · 609-258-2787 · Princetonfestival.org
This three-week festival is modest in scope but characterized by a lively mix of classical, jazz, choral and opera programming. It includes the Concordia Chamber Players (June 14), pianist Evan Wong (June 21), and the Keystone State Boychoir (June 28).
♪ Our pick: Gershwin's Porgy and Bess comes to the McCarter Theatre Center on June 22, 27 and 29. The cast features baritone Richard Todd Payne, who performed at the Houston Grand Opera and Opera Theater of St. Louis, and Janinah Burnett, who has appeared on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Springs, NY)
August 6-26 · 518.587.3330 · www.spac.org
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present its inaugural residency at SPAC with a three-week, six-concert series, from August 11-26. Much of the CMS's core artist roster will be there, including directors David Finckel and Wu Han, plus the Miro Quartet. It joins the Philadelphia Orchestra (Aug. 6-23) and New York City Ballet, as well as a host of popular music performers. SPAC's summer season roughly parallels that of the Saratoga Race Course, the 350-acre track that just celebrated its 150th anniversary season.
♪ Our pick: On Aug. 16, the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, features to exciting young soloists: trumpeter Alison Balsom in the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, and guitarist Milos in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony rounds out the bill.
Tanglewood (Lenox, MA)
July 5-September 1 · 888.266.1200 · www.tanglewood.org
The granddaddy of the amphitheater festivals is also the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which brings Andris Nelsons in for his first festival appearances as music director designate. The BSO will give 22 concerts in all, starting with a July 5 opening night with Renee Fleming. There will also be two staged operas in Ozawa Hall: a new chamber version of Lizzie Borden, by Jack Beeson, performed by a chamber ensemble from Boston Lyric Opera (July 31), and Handel's opera seria Teseo with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (Aug. 14).
♪ Our pick: Christoph von Dohnányi and the BSO got high marks for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in Boston last September. The parties don their white jackets and reunite at Tanglewood on July 26. Joining them again are mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, soprano Camilla Tilling, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.