It’s no coincidence that summer music festivals are the highlight of the year for classical music devotees. Unlike the staid, traditional margins within which most orchestral performances reside, festivals are ephemeral, concentrated encounters often performed in jaw-dropping venues by outrageously talented musicians on working holiday.
“Festivals bring out the most appreciative listeners and the finest musicians,” said Dale Bartrop, concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. “It’s no coincidence that the best festivals take place in the most beautiful places on earth – that’s where we musicians want to spend our summers, just like the audience.”
With sigh-inducing vistas around every corner, the West is a premier destination for cultural tourists of all persuasions. Here, a look at the festivals that attract the savviest travelers and best established and emerging talent around.
The Aspen Music Festival and School – June 28-August 19, 2012
Founded by music lovers who believed that the combination of music and nature inspires the best in every person, the Aspen Music Festival and School hosts more than 350 classical music events in just 8 weeks, with the participation of more than 100,000 patrons. School alumni include Joshua Bell, Philip Glass, Itzhak Perlman, Leonard Slatkin, and Dawn Upshaw. (www.aspenmusicfestival.com )
Festival Mozaic (Central Coast, California) – July 11-22, 2012
Helmed by internationally-renowned violinist and conductor, Scott Yoo, since 1971, Festival Mozaic has specialized in presenting impeccable performances against a backdrop of pastoral vineyards, pristine beaches, and historic elegance across San Luis Obispo County. The eleven-day schedule teems with chamber music and orchestral performances, as well as educational discussions and intimate salons. (www.FestivalMozaic.com )
Grand Teton Music Festival (Jackson Hole, Wyoming) – July 4-August 18, 2012
For seven weeks every summer, the Grand Teton Music Festival brings the finest international musicians to perform in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park. Now in its 51st season, the GTMF’s centerpiece is the Festival Orchestra, flanked by a full schedule of chamber music performances, recitals, educational opportunities, and children’s experiences in charismatic settings. (www.gtmf.org )
Music from Angel Fire (Angel Fire, New Mexico) – August 17-September 2, 2012
Music from Angel Fire takes its role as New Mexico’s first chamber music festival dedicated to serving northern rural counties very seriously. But despite its strong emphasis on education and outreach, the festival is not just for budding music lovers. Thousands of listeners come from across the country to hear performances by such festival favorites as Ida Kavafian (Artistic Director), Anne-Marie McDermott, Tara Helen O'Connor and Peter Wiley, and concerts are regularly broadcast on American Public Media and Performance Today. (www.musicfromangelfire.org )
Oregon Bach Festival (Eugene, Oregon) - June 29-July 15, 2012
Founded in 1970 by German conductor Helmuth Rilling, the OBF is a donor-supported program under the auspices of the University of Oregon. While the festival celebrates the music and legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach and centers on the choral-orchestral repertoire, programming includes a diverse selection of concerts and guest artists which has included Garrison Keillor, Bobby McFerrin, Frederica von Stade and Yo-Yo Ma. (www.oregonbachfestival.com )
About Festival Mozaic
Festival Mozaic (founded in 1971 as the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival) is a celebration of five centuries of music that takes place year-round in varied venues across San Luis Obispo County. The Festival presents an orchestra gathered from professionals across the world, chamber music concerts, guest artists and ensembles, and concerts of classical crossover artists. For more information, please visit www.FestivalMozaic.com.