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The Best Music and Performing Arts Festivals in the U.S. This Summer

Summer is an ideal time to experience the performing arts—when many orchestras and theater and dance companies move their performances to the great outdoors, in celebration of the season. If you are looking for the very best in performing arts and classic music, opera, theater, jazz and dance in the U.S. this summer, look no further. Here, Indagare rounds up our picks of the best summer music and performing arts festivals in Massachusetts, New York, California, Charleston and Montana.

Contact Indagare for assistance booking a trip or arranging tickets to any of these festivals across the U.S.

Massachusetts

Tanglewood

Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, opens a sparkling, new facility on its campus in Lenox, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires, the Linde Center for Music and Learning, a complex of three pavilions and a café, designed by William Rawn Associates. It is the venue for intriguing public programs, including talks by thinkers such as Madeleine Albright, Doris Kearns Goodwin, master classes by soprano Renée Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conversations with composer Joan Tower, playwright Tom Stoppard, the postmodern diva Meow Meow, and a film series, all this in addition to the concerts by the BSO and appearances by James Taylor, Goo Goo Dolls, among others. June 15-August 31

Jacob’s Pillow

With two theaters, an outdoor stage, porches for pre-show talks, and a gallery, every area in this landscape of woods and meadows in Beckett, Massachusetts seems devoted to dance: ballet, modern, dance theater, tap, and contemporary. The reach is international. Alongside appearances by the Boston Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Mark Morris Dance Group, are performances by groups from Australia, Canada, and from France, the Compagnie CNDC Angers/Robert Swinston in a program devoted to work of Merce Cunningham, as part of centennial celebrations. June 19-August 25

New York

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Since opening in 1966, in Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been a summer home for the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra. This season, NYCB presents a program of masterpieces by George Balanchine, works by contemporary choreographers, and the comedy classic Coppélia. Philadelphia Orchestra programs extend from Bach to music of Latin America. World music is represented by star performers, including sitar player Anoushka Shankar, which adds to a mix ranging from the Dave Matthews Band, Brad Paisley to Kiss. May 26-Sept 13

OSL Bach Festival

For more than 40 years, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s has formed an essential part of New York’s cultural life, from performances at Carnegie Hall to free school and community concerts. This June, the Orchestra brings special focus to the music of J.S. Bach in an inaugural festival led by principal conductor Bernard Labadie. Programs range from the Baroque master’s solo keyboard works to orchestral suites and a special collaboration: the six dance-works set to Bach’s music by choreographer Paul Taylor and performed by the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the St. Luke’s musicians. June 6-23

Charleston

Spoleto Festival USA

Each year, the festival season has an auspicious start in Charleston when, during a packed two-week-plus period, the city becomes vibrant with opera, theater, dance, and music. Highlights include appearances by the London troupe Shakespeare’s Globe, with productions of Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, and Pericles. Jazz is prominent here as is the enticing range of performers: vocalist Esperanza Spalding; the Dafnis Prieto Big Band; and the chamber jazz music of tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson. May 24-June 9

Montana

Tippet Rise Art Center

Set at the foot of Montana’s Beartooth Mountains, the Tippet Rise Art Center presents its fourth season of chamber music concerts and recitals. For seven weeks, artistic advisor Pedja Muzijevic brings together leading musicians, including violinist Paul Huang, oboist James Austin Smith, and pianist Stephen Hough, along with the Escher, Jack, Rolston, and St. Lawrence string quartets, to perform works, from the Baroque to the premiere of John Luther Adams’s Lines Made by Walking. Tippet Rise’s unique landscape, distinguished by the vernacular rural architecture of its Olivier Music Barn, is enhanced this season by a pavilion designed by African architect Francis Kéré. July 12-Sept 7

California

Music Academy of the West

Since 1947, the Music Academy has trained generations of young classical musicians in one of the country’s most scenic settings, Santa Barbara, as part of a festival that presents established artists in recital, chamber music, and orchestral performance. Highlights of this season include the London Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, in its debut, and the West Coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s opera Cold Mountain, based on novel by Charles Frazier. June 17-August 10

La Jolla Music Society SummerFest

For 34 summers of its 50-year history, the La Jolla Music Society has been presenting chamber music in southern California. This season its programs are led by the acclaimed pianist Inon Barnatan as music director and take place in a new 500-seat concert hall, the Conrad, ideally sized for chamber groups or solo recitalist. Programming is as fresh, ranging from music of the French Baroque, Beethoven string quartets, to premieres by composers Conrad Tao and Brett Dean. August 2-23

Artist Spotlight: American Soprano Amanda Majeski

In recent seasons, American soprano Amanda Majeski has made acclaimed debuts at the world’s major opera houses—Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Her wide repertoire ranges from Handel to Richard Strauss, but this summer, she returns to Santa Fe Opera and the music of Mozart, for which she has a special affinity. Majeski appears as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, the composer’s comedy of fidelity, deception and love’s triumph, in a new production by innovative young director R.B. Schlather. July 13-August 22

Contact Indagare for assistance booking a trip or arranging tickets to any of these festivals across the U.S.

– Mario R. Mercado on May 6, 2019

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