It’s a summer weekend and you’re wondering where to go. What you need is a destination with an agenda: Grab a friend and head out to a summer classical music festival.
It’s the perfect excuse to ditch the city: You have a purpose, a place to go, and best of all, you can see some great performances.
Here are my picks for the top five Northeast festivals:
Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937, is the grande dame, with programs ranging from Bach to Barenaked Ladies. Tickets in the shed sell out fast, so it’s best to buy in advance. You can always picnic on the lawn. Located in Lenox, Massachusetts, the festival runs through Sept. 1. Information: +1-888-266-1200; http://www.bso.org.
Bard Summerscape, the brainchild of Leon Botstein, music director of the American Symphony Orchestra and president of Bard College, offers opera, music, theater, dance, film and cabaret. Embedded is the 24th annual Bard Music Festival, which focuses on one composer; this year it’s Igor Stravinsky. Runs through August 18 in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Information: +1-845-758-7900; http://fishercenter.bard.edu/bmf/2013.
Marlboro Music Festival is best known as the pet project of Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode, who invite great musicians to come and play chamber music in the bucolic foothills of southern Vermont. Each week, they pick the best chamber groups to perform, so you never know who’s playing or the program. Runs mainly on weekends through August 11th. Information: +1-802-258-9331; http://www.marlboromusic.org.
Yellow Barn Music Festival, located in Putney, Vermont, was founded as an informal summer retreat for Manhattan School of Music students. It combines a by-the-bootstraps feel with powerhouse musicians such as pianist Peter Frankl. Runs through Aug. 3. Information: +1-892-387-6637; http://www.yellowbarn.org.
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, under the auspices of the Yale School of Music, is thought to be the oldest in New England. Dedicated in 1906, the Music Shed has seen performances by such luminaries as Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Jean Sibelius. This year, string quartets abound. Runs through Aug. 17 on the grounds of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate, Norfolk, Connecticut. She married Carl Stoeckel, son of the Yale Music School’s first professor. Information: +1-860-542-3000; http://music.yale.edu/Norfolk.
(James Tarmy writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News, as well as for the Loot blog on our website. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on the story: James Tarmy in New York: Jtarmy@bloomberg.net
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