A SEASON OF FINE FESTIVALS
Classical music seems to fit well into the syrupy, sweet days of high summer, whether it represents a tonic breeze — picnics on the Wolf Trap lawn — or the apotheosis of summer’s long, sweaty intensity, which might find expression in a chamber work by Brahms.
In breaking events into “Here” and “There” categories, I came up with my own definition: “Here” means reachable by public transportation from downtown Washington, and “There” means requiring a car and, most likely, an overnight stay, regardless of how many times I personally have come trailing in from Castleton at 2 in the morning.
The American Chamber Players grewout of the Library of Congress’s defunct Summer Chamber Festival, and the Kreeger Museum has been presenting its June Chamber Festival for years. This year’s three diverse concerts feature C.P.E. Bach, Seymour Barab and Schubert’s Quintet in C.
June Chamber Festival June 5, 9 and 12 at the Kreeger Museum, 2401 Foxhall Rd. NW. 2023383552. www.kreegermuseum.org.
Every year, the University of Maryland’s School of Music hosts students and young professionals who form, over a month, one of the best instrumental ensembles in the Washington region. Each week culminates with a public performance in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and this year’s guest conductors include David Alan Miller, Rossen Milanov and Asher Fisch. The program also features chamber concerts, family concerts (“Peter and the Wolf”) and open rehearsals.
National Orchestral Institute May 28June 27 with weekly performances at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park. 3014052787. www.theclarice.umd.edu/series/2015nationalorchestralinstitutefestival.
Another educational program linked to a concert series, the Washington International Piano Festival brings in recognized pianists— this year, Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung, among others— to teach, hold master classes and perform. This year, Catholic University, which hosts the event, also is teaming it with its inaugural Catholic University of America Piano Competition; first prize includes a couple of solo appearances in the Washington area during the 2015-16 season.
Washington International Piano Festival July 26Aug. 2 at Catholic University, 620 Michigan Ave. NE and at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. www.washingtonpianofest.com.
Wolf Trap remains the granddaddy of the area’s summer classical festivals. The National Symphony Orchestra’s summer series offers a few highlights — Emanuel Ax in the Brahms Concerto No. 2 — among the various video-game and John Williams concerts. And the Wolf Trap Opera, one of the best young-artist programs in the country, is offering four pieces: “Aida,” “Madama Butterfly,” “The Marriage of Figaro” and, my pick, John Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles” at the Barns.
NSO@Wolf Trap/Wolf Trap Opera June 12Aug. 7 at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Rd., Vienna. 7032551900. www.wolftrap.org.
The question of whether Lorin Maazel’s Castleton festival could survive without him is being put to the test far earlier than anyone anticipated. The famous conductor died last summer, and this year the festival is being run by his widow and festival cofounder, the actress Dietlinde Maazel.
Maazel has put together a program that includes Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette,” Beethoven’s Ninth and a performance of the play “Our Town,” in the name of teaching more about acting to the artists in the festival’s training program. Immediately after the festival: the inaugural season of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s summer academy for high school students at Castleton, headed by, and featuring performances with, Wynton Marsalis.
Castleton Festival/Castleton Summer Jazz Academy July 319 and July 25Aug. 2 at 7 Castleton Meadows Lane, Castleton, Va. 5409373454. www.castletonfestival.org.
From full orchestral concerts to pop-up concerts in 20-minute dollops to seminars for audience members on conducting, listening and Schubert, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains, now in its 20th year, offers a wide range of top-flight music. The long roster of artists well worth checking out includes conductor Josep Caballé-Domenech, composer Daron Hagen, cellist Zuill Bailey, violinist Elisabeth Adkins and soprano Arianna Zukerman.
Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy July 6Aug. 2 at Wintergreen Resort, 88 Wintergreen Dr., Roseland, Va. 4343258292. www.wintergreenperformingarts.org/wsmf.
The 10-day Staunton Music Festival, part of whose mission is to balance old work and new, demonstrates the current truth that “chamber music” is a term that encompasses a multitude of music. This year, audiences can see and hear Bach’s “St. John Passion” played with an ensemble of period instruments; semi-staged operas by Henry Purcell and Peter Maxwell Davies; Palestrina’s Missa Brevis; Saint-Saëns’s “Carnival of the Animals” with dancers; and, yes, string quartets.
Staunton Music Festival Aug. 1423 in downtown Staunton, Va. 5405690267. www.stauntonmusicfestival.org.