Summer Festivals

Summer Festivals
Carter, Harbison, Lieberson, Sheng, Tower, and more!
Summer Music Festivals

The joys of summer can usually allay the dreary months of the year. Through those months we dream that no matter how hot the weather gets at least we can laze-around in shorts, swat insects, drink cool lemonade...and go to summer music festivals!

Spoleto Festival USA
23 May – 8 June
Founded in 1977 by Gian Carlo Menotti, this festival was an extension to the festival in Spoleto, Italy he founded in 1958. This year’s USA festival features Anthony Davis’s opera Amistad, newly revised for the festival (see caption on next page). Also on the calendar this summer is Aaron Jay Kernis’s New Era Dance and Kaaija Saariaho’s Six Japanese Gardens.

Bang On A Can Marathon
31 May – 1 June
“Imagine Lollapalooza advised by the ghost of John Cage.” This description sums up the spirit of the 21-year-old new music marathon in New York City. This year’s marathon-concert includes works by its founders (Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe) as well as the world premiere of Convex-Concave-Concord by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, commissioned by Bang On A Can for the All-Stars.

Aspen Music Festival and School
19 June – 17 August
Each summer since 1949 the mountains of Colorado have reverberated with classical music. This summer the AMFS presents their world premiere commission by John Harbison, The Great Gatsby Suite, a new work for orchestra culled from his opera of the same name; the Emerson String Quartet performs both Carl Nielsen’s At the Bier of a Young Artist and Bright Sheng’s String Quartet No. 5, “The Miraculous”; the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble performs Henry Cowell’s Set of Five. Finally, the Aspen Chamber Symphony performs Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, with mezzo-soprano, Kelley O’Connor.

23 June – 24 August
As a special tribute to Elliott Carter, in celebration of his spectacular 100th year, Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music presents four days of concerts highlighting his distinguished musical life. Also at Tanglewood: the Boston Symphony performs two works by John Harbison, his Wind Quintet and his Symphony No. 5, which the BSO premiered on 17 April; the Orchestra of St. Luke’s performs Joan Tower’s In Memory and the Kronos Quartet performs Michael Gordon’s Potassium.

Ruhr Klavier Festival (Germany)
10 – 12 July
On the occasion of their 20th anniversary, this renowned festival in Essen, Germany hears the European premiere of Tan Dun’s Piano Concerto: The Fire, featuring pianist Lang Lang, and Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo for 12 celli and orchestra. Pianist Margaret Leng Tan performs Tan Dun’s Concerto for Pizzicato Piano and Ten Instruments, Eight Memories in Watercolor and Traces.

Bang on A Can Summer Music Festival
8 - 27 July
Nestled in a quaint Berkshire Mountain valley at the contemporary art museum, MassMOCA, this seven year-old music festival brings young composers and performers together for two intensive weeks of collaboration and comraderie where they work alongside a leading composer (Terry Riley this year) and The Bang On A Can All-Stars. The culminating concert for 2008 features the joint-composition, Shelter, by the festival’s founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe.

Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (Germany)
12 July – 31 August
Austria’s percussion-wunderkind, Martin Grubinger, presents an entire concert of drumming madness at this prominent German countryside festival, including Avner Dorman’s Frozen in Time which he premiered in December 2007. John Axelrod conducts the NDR Radiophilharmonie.

BBC Proms (UK)
18 July – 12 September
This 114-year-old festival has been making music only a few years longer than Elliott Carter, whose Night Fantasies will be performed as a celebration of his centenary. Also on the Festival’s program is a BBC Proms commission by Simon Holt, a work for orchestra called Troubled Light based on Goethe’s theories of the psychological effects of color.

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
20 July – 25 August
Music from Angel Fire
15 August – 1 September
These two established New Mexico festivals (36 and 25 years respectively) are featuring works by Joan Tower. Music from Angel Fire has engaged Tower as the 2008 Composer-In-Residence and commissioned a string quartet, Angels, to be performed by the Miami String Quartet. SFCMF presents Tower’s A Little Gift. Jointly commissioned with the La Jolla Summerfest (, the SFCMF presents a new trio by Kaija Saariaho, Serenatas, for the Real Quiet Trio. Lastly, at the SFCMF, cellist Anssi Karttunen performs Saariaho’s Sept Papillons.

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
27 July – 10 August
Since its founding in 1961, presenting music and theatre at a local coffee house (the Sticky Wickett), the CFCM has been a consistent voice in programming new and adventurous music. At this summer’s festival, CFCM is presenting John Corigliano’s Mannheim Rocket and Conjurer for percussion soloist and string orchestra (Evelyn Glennie, percussion) and Avner Dorman’s Variations Without a Theme. Marin Alsop leads the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra.

Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (Finland)
13 – 26 July
The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, the first of its kind in Finland, has presented thousands of international chamber works since 1970 in this small town 600km north of Helsinki. This year the Brentano String Quartet performs Gabriela Lena Frank’s Quijotadas.

Great Mountains Music Festival (South Korea)
8 August – 18 August
Jay Greenberg’s work for double string quartet, Four Scenes, receives its world premiere by the Sejong Soloists at this pre-eminent festival in the Daegwallyeong or Great Mountain region of South Korea.