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This Summer's Classical Concerts and Festivals

Nicholas Wilson /

Mendocino Music Festival, 2013.

Nicholas Wilson /

Many of the world’s best classical musicians come to our area each summer to perform concerts surrounded by the natural beauty of our western landscapes. Here are some of the festivals and series coming up.

June 24-July 5 - Music In The Mountains - Nevada City, CA

Music in the Mountains' Summer Fest is a thriving performing arts festival in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills that celebrates music, community, art and culture.

This year’s highlights include The Russian Ballet, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Randy Newman, and Cirque De La Symphonie.

July 5 & July 26 - Stern Grove Festival - San Francisco, CA.

Every year since 1938, the Stern Grove Festival has offered an admission-free performing arts series in Sigmund Stern Grove, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

Featured performances: July 5 - San Francisco Symphony, Edwin Outwater, Conductor, July 26 - San Francisco Ballet, Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director.

July 11-25 - Mendocino Music Festival - Mendocino, CA.

Orchestra concerts, big band, chamber music ensembles, dance, blues, jazz, world, folk, and bluegrass are all a part of this eclectic festival held at one of northern California's most enchanting sites. There is also a Piano Series, a performance by participants in the Emerging Artists Program, and small concerts in intimate venues throughout the historic towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg.

Highlights this year include violinist Livia Sohn performing the thrilling Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, the nine-member men’s vocal ensemble Cantus, Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville fully staged with costumes and supertitles, the Festival Orchestra performing Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade singing her favorite arias from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutti.

July 18 - Aug 1 - Carmel Bach Festival - Carmel, CA

The Carmel Bach Festival, located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is a two-week celebration of concerts, recitals, master classes, lectures, and open rehearsals. The Festival’s mission is to celebrate the works, inspiration and ongoing influence of Johann Sebastian Bach worldwide by immersing audiences in a festival experience integrating music, education and ideas.

Highlights include: Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, Bach's "Wachet Auf" or "Sleepers Wake," Haydn's colorful Harmoniemesse, and a rarely performed version of Bach's Saint John Passion. The festival also features works by Bartók, Dvorák, Beethoven, and the full-length opera: Mozart's The Magic Flute.

July 15-26 - Napa Valley Festival del Sole - Napa, CA

Festival del Sole has put Napa Valley on the map as a top cultural destination. The annual summer festival artfully blends the world’s finest classical, jazz, opera, theater and dance artists with curated culinary, wine and fitness pursuits, staged in Napa Valley’s most iconic settings.

Highlights include performances by the Russian National Orchestra with conductor Constantine Orbelian, violinist Midori, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, cellist Matt Haimovitz with Uccello, soprano Deborah Voigt, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, and others.

July 31-Aug 16 - Lake Tahoe Summerfest- Incline Village, NV

Picturesque Lake Tahoe provides a beautiful backdrop for world-class performances at the Lake Tahoe Summerfest. That's partly why the TODAY show recommended it as a national, special event of the week.

This year's highlights include orchestral favorites by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Bach, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and others. Chamber music features works by Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Boccherini and more.

There's also a special “Hollywood in Tahoe” concert of music from the movies.

The orchestra is comprised of world-class musicians from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Dallas Symphony and many other fine ensembles.

July 17-Aug 8 - Music@Menlo - Menlo Park, CA.

Music@Menlo is an internationally acclaimed chamber music festival and institute in the San Francisco Bay Area. It features unique immersive programming, a roster of world-class artists, and a Chamber Music Institute for emerging and pre-professional musicians. Intimate performance venues and signature offerings such as AudioNotes CDs, Café Conversations, and the Encounter lecture series offer a wide range of opportunities for aficionados and newcomers of all ages to connect with chamber music in new and innovative ways.

Chamber concerts this year will feature masterworks by Franz Schubert including many treasured lieder, his “Trout” Quintet, the String Quartet in a minor “Rosamunde,”plus chamber music masterpieces by Schumann, Beethoven, Mozart and others. Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han are the Music@Menlo founding Artistic Directors.

July 16-26 - Midsummer Mozart Festival - San Francisco, CA

A beloved Bay Area institution, the Midsummer Mozart Festival was founded in 1974 by conductor George Cleve and a regional consortium of classical musicians. In its 40th Anniversary season, the Festival is still the only music festival in North America dedicated exclusively to Mozart.

Week One features Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C Major, the Horn Concerto #2 and the Symphony #41 "Jupiter"

Week Two features Mozart’s Piano Concerto #27 and the Symphony #35 “Haffner.”

July 24-Aug 9 - Bear Valley Music Festival - Bear Valley, CA

Since its genesis in 1967, the Bear Valley Music Festival has grown through the years and now embraces a variety of musical genres. Classical music is supplemented with opera, Broadway show tunes, and opening weekend acts of contemporary and country music. The festival is located the Sierra Nevada town of Bear Valley and draws a core of classical musicians from around the United States to perform in the orchestra.

Guest artists include pianists Olga Kern and Sara Davis Buechner, San Francisco’s Del Sol Quartet. Symphonic music and concertos by Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, Elgar, Mozart, Dvorak, and Stravinsky will be performed.


Aug 7-16 - American Bach Soloists Festival and Academy - San Francisco, CA

The Summer Bach Festival include performances of major works, opera, and oratorio from the Baroque; concerts by an annual Distinguished Artist; the Academy-in-Action Series, free Lectures and Master Classes, and public Colloquia on a variety of topics.

Two performances of Bach's Mass in B minor will be offered, plus explorations of great music from French baroque masters.


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Beautiful shot of one of our #carmelbachfestival venues, Church In The Forest! We'll have 3 performances there this summer- check our website for info: #carmel #carmelbythesea #monterey #seemonterey #classicalmusic #jsbach #bach #festival #classic #nature #lovewhereyoulive

A photo posted by Carmel Bach Festival (@carmelbachfestival) on