Joanna Kaye's Summer Outdoor Music Festival Picks

May 31, 2018 | Joanna Marie Kaye

Most of the country has to wait for the summer to enjoy an outdoor music festival and there is a large number of them. Many of these Festivals are well worth a trip. If you are yearning to get out of town this summer here are just a few suggestions.

I’ll begin out west with Santa Fe Opera. In celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centenary, the season opens with his 20thcentury treasureCandide. Puccini’sMadame Butterflyand Rossini’sThe Italian Girl in Algierssee revivals along with Richard Strauss’Ariadne auf Naxosand John Adams’ and Peter Sellars'Doctor Atomicreturns to the land of its inspiration. The venue is itself a work of art and an architectural wonder. Each night begins after sundown which can be quite late in August. From personal experience, I suggest you fly out a day before you plan to attend. You don’t want to fall asleep during one of these productions!


Another large music festival takes place outside of Chicago. Ravinia is North America’s oldest music festival. They present over 140 events throughout the summer. These concerts run the gamut from Joshua Bell to Snarky Puppy to the annual summer residency of The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Films with live orchestra are a favorite and so are elaborate picnics. In fact, you can even compete in the ultimate picnic contest. Good luck!


Tanglewood takes place in the Berkshire Mountains by Lenox, Mass. This year focuses on the centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein whose career was closely tied to the Festival. Fans of Bernstein’s theatrical works can enjoy “On the Town,” “Trouble in Tahiti,” “Fancy Free,” “Candide” and more, while his orchestral output and works associated with his conducting will be presented by the Boston Symphony at this, its summer home. Guest artists will include Yo-Yo Ma, Nadine Sierra, Midori, Jeremy Denk, Audra McDonald, and Thomas Hampson. Picnics are big at Tanglewood too. You can bring your own or purchase them on site.





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