The SFCV Summer Music Festival Guide, 2019

SFCV Editors on April 29, 2019

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival | May 4 – Oct. 28

Downtown San Francisco

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival hosts any number of minifestivals: It’s like a never-ending party for 30-somethings. But the little patch of green that is the Yerba Buena Gardens is a dedicated space for hosting vibrant arts programming in all kinds of genres.

In 2019, the world music gathering spot hosts live salsa every Thursday evening (at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, children’s programs every Friday, and a lunchtime concert series every Thursday. RAWdance’s Wendy Rein and Ryan T. Smith present the YBG ChoreoFest on July 13-14, the Native American Arts Festival is on June 16, the Annual AfroSolo in the Gardens, celebrating the music of Duke Ellington, is on Aug. 3, the annual Pistahan celebration is on Aug. 10–11, and Brazil in the Gardens is on Aug. 18..

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Mountain Play | May 19 – June 16

About an hour from San Francisco

Every year, the Cushing Amphitheatre atop Mt. Tamalpais plays host to a Broadway musical production on Sunday afternoons in May/June. This year, the show is Grease, the perennial tribute to 1950s youth culture. There’s a singalong version on June 8.

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Mainly Mozart | May 30 – June 23

About 9 hours from San Francisco

New York has Mostly Mozart and San Diego has Mainly Mozart. Like its cousin this is a deep dive into the music of one of classical music’s most popular hitmakers, spiked with some related music by other composers. Hosted at the Balboa Theater in the heart of downtown, the festival also reaches several suburban locations with chamber concerts (La Jolla, Carlsbad, Rancho Santa Fe).

The Festival Orchestra under Michael Francis hosts Jeremy Denk on June 8, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19. The orchestra plays the Masonic Funeral Music, K.447 (don’t miss that, if you love Mozart), Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony, and opens with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks. Other soloists with the orchestra include violinist Augustin Hadelich, guitarist Miloš Karadaglic, and pianists Anne-Marie McDermott and Conrad Tao. The festival also hosts a Music and Autism conference May 30 – June 2, featuring presenter Dr. Temple Grandin.

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Healdsburg Jazz Festival | May 31 – June 9

About an hour from San Francisco

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival promises jazz in a beautiful natural setting. The Carla Bley Trio with Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard shares a bill with the Ethan Iverson Trio on June 2, and the Regina Carter Quintet plays a show dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald on June 8. Tunisian singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef plays with a New York-based rhythm section in the closing show on June 9. Tickets are $45–$70 for reserved seating, $30 for general admission.

Healdsburg is located on the northern edge of Sonoma County, and performances take place at the Raven and Jackson Theaters, among other locations. A handful of outdoor and gallery events do not require a cover charge.

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San Francisco Opera Summer Season | June 5–29

In San Francisco

The San Francisco Opera brings a mix of things to its June season this year. The company opens with Carmen (June 5–29) featuring the scintillating J’Nai Bridges, with Matthew Polenzani and Kyle Ketelsen. The production is by Francesca Zambello, originally staged at Opera Australia, and is conducted by Michelle Merrill in her house debut. Handel’s Orlando (June 9–27) stars Sasha Cooke, Heidi Stober, Christina Gansch, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, and Christian Van Horn in a Scottish Opera production directed by Harry Fehr and conducted by Christopher Moulds in his house debut. Rusalka (June 16–28) by Antonin Dvořák, stars Rachel Willis-Sørenson, Brandon Jovanovich, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Jamie Barton, and Sarah Cambidge in a David McVicar production straight from Lyric Opera of Chicago and conducted by Eun Sun Kim in her house debut.

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Ojai Music Festival | June 6–9

About 7 hours from San Francisco

Located in a natural amphitheater an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles, Ojai has gorgeousness to spare. It’s a festival for new music and new ideas. It incubates novel performance and production ideas, it often juxtaposes genres, and it always features music from living composers. Ojai appoints a different music director every year to get different perspectives on things: This year’s director is Barbara Hannigan a fixture on the new music scene as a soprano, who has not so recently started a conducting career as well.

Hannigan is opening the festival with a complete performance of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, one of his last and greatest neoclassical works. Percussionist Steven Schick is on hand to perform all three parts of John Luther Adams’s The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies and part of James Dillon’s massive Nine Rivers cycle, which was composed over 18 years and is, in the composer’s words “... a mythos of imagined waters, of fairies and snake-gods, a melancholy of flow, a requiem for poisoned rivers, an odyssey, a theatre of memory.”

There are tributes to composers John Zorn and Oliver Knussen, and a folk song concert called “Rites of Passage.” Hannigan also brings some of her recent projects, such as Gerard Grisey’s final work, a song cycle called Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil (Four songs for crossing the threshold), and (on the other end of the emotional spectrum) several songs arranged from Gershwin’s Girl Crazy, performed with Dutch new music ensemble LUDWIG, from her award-winning 2017 CD Crazy Girl Crazy.

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Britt Music Festival | June 13 – Sept. 15

About 6 hours from San Francisco

Set in a natural amphitheater in Jacksonville, Oregon, located on the hillside estate of a 19th-century photographer named Peter Britt. This is about a 15-mile drive north of Ashland, Oregon. Actually, the festival runs all summer and includes jazz, rock, country, world music and more, but the orchestra is in residence for three weeks, with concerts from July 23 – Aug. 11.

It seems criminal not to mention performances by Third Eye Blind, Lyle Lovett, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Dwight Yoakam, but the orchestra is packing a lot of talent as well: Third Coast Percussion, violinist Augustin Hadelich, pianist George Li, and cellist Oliver Herbert. The Third Coast group joins the orchestra for the Festival co-commissioned Meander, Spiral, Explode by Christopher Cerrone. In a program called “The Rising Seas,” Music Director Teddy Abrams pairs Debussy’s La Mer with John Luther Adams’s climate change-conscious Become Ocean. The orchestra season concludes with a performance of a new score to Eisenstein’s famed movie Battleship Potemkin, featuring classics by Bach, Beethoven, Berlioz, and more.

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Stern Grove | June 16 – Aug. 18

In San Francisco

San Francisco residents have an excellent backyard music festival with Stern Grove, which presents free Sunday afternoon concerts all summer long. Now in its 82nd season, the festival is committed as ever to its mission of making live music accessible to all, and a diverse lineup of musical acts proves the point. From indie-rocker Mitski to the always elegant Pink Martini, there’s something to everyone’s taste on the 2019 roster. Head on over to the Sunset and stake out a spot on the grass.

The S.F. Symphony plays a concert on July 7 conducted by Edwin Outwater, and S.F. Ballet performs a program of current repertory selections on July 28.

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Stanford Jazz Festival | June 21 – Aug. 3

Less than an hour from San Francisco

An expansive jazz series from the Stanford Jazz Workshop unfolds leisurely across the entire summer. One of the most heavily attended Bay Area festivals. Highlighted acts include Cecile McLorin Salvant (June 22), Terry Riley and George Brooks (June 30), Erik Jekabson Sextet with John Santos (July 12), Andrea Motis Quintet with Ken Peplowski on sax and the 50/50 Jazz Orchestra (July 13), Lisa Fischer and Taylor Eigsti (July 20), Joey Alexander Trio (July 21), Ruth Davies’ Blues Night (July 24), Anat Cohen (July 27 and 29), Dave King, Marquis Hill, and Scott Colley (July 31), and Joshua Redman (Aug. 3).

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Chamber Music Northwest | June 24 – July 28

About 10 hours from San Francisco 

Brace yourself for a clarinet-crazy season from Chamber Music Northwest. The five-week festival, with performances at Reed College and Portland State University, kicks off its 2019 schedule with eight days of clarinet concerts. Artistic Director David Shifrin oversees the proceedings. At the center of it all, a Young Artists Competition that offers a $20,000 prize and two showcase performances of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.

A more usual lineup of chamber music fills out the rest of the festival’s 49th season. Highlights include a Fourth of July concert with works by Aaron Copland and a Caroline Shaw premiere, a chamber version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni presented by New York-based Heartbeat Opera, and a finale program of “epic quintets” featuring the Dover Quartet, Jeffrey Kahane, and Peter Wiley.

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Grand Teton Music Festival | July 3 – Aug. 17

About 14 hours from San Francisco

A vacation destination and classical music festival all in one. Located half a mile from its namesake national park and an hour’s drive from Yellowstone, the Grand Teton Music Festival offers orchestral fare and guest artists of the highest caliber. Hilary Hahn, Kristin Chenoweth, and Norah Jones all grace the 2019 schedule. But the Festival Orchestra, which draws musicians from top orchestras around the country, is the backbone of every season. Donald Runnicles enters his 11th year as music director and conducts six Festival Orchestra programs, from a “Patriotic Pops” concert to The Rite of Spring.

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Classical Tahoe Music Festival | July 7 – Aug. 11

About 4 hours from San Francisco

With performances starting in earnest at the end of July, Classical Tahoe presents half a dozen orchestral concerts and a couple of chamber programs in the span of two weeks. World-class soloists — harpist Emmanuel Ceysson, soprano Jennifer Rowley, and more — star in mostly standard orchestral fare, expertly conducted by Joel Revzen, who has been with the festival since its inception eight years ago. Sure to be a season highlight, jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn plays the final date on the schedule, closing out the summer in virtuosic fashion.

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Festival Napa Valley | July 10–21

About 1.5 hours from San Francisco

Ten days of classical music, jazz, dance, and other events, including vintner tastings, dinners, lunches and brunches, and afterparties. Opening night’s “Opera Under the Stars” features Soprano Joyce El-Khoury, tenor Francesco Demuro, and baritone Lucas Meachem. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year Award, makes his Bay Area debut in a recital accompanied by his sister, the equally celebrated pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason. Also on tap: a jazz concert with the Yellow Jackets, a gala evening with Seal, and a dance gala with Diavolo | Architecture in Motion. Broadway legend Patti LuPone is featured in an intimate, invitation-only donor event.

A number of concerts are free and open to the Napa public. Concert passes start as low as $69, and dining and lodging options are extensive. Etiquette note: “‘Napa Style’ casual elegance for luncheons, dinners, and concerts alike.”

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San Francisco Symphony | July 10–27

Less than an hour from San Francisco and at Davies Symphony Hall

The S.F. Symphony inaugurates its newest community series this summer with a pair of programs at the recently renovated Frost Amphitheater on the Stanford University campus. MTT conducts an all-Tchaikovsky concert on July 10 with violinist Gil Shaham, and Gemma New leads two performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on July 13 and 14. Lawn tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for children 18 and under.

At home in Davies, the orchestra plays the accompaniment for another live movie, this time the Oscar-winning score to Disney/Pixar’s Up. Overall, it’s a quiet summer for the Symphony.

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Ventura Music Festival | July 11–21

About 6.5 hours from San Francisco

The Ventura Music Festival celebrates its silver anniversary this year with an eight-concert lineup. A festival staple, “Tea and Trumpets” returns for another year of finger sandwiches and brass quintet music. Young gun Joey Alexander plays an evening set with his trio on July 19. The Calidore String Quartet offers a traditional chamber music program one Sunday afternoon, and the Rastrelli Cello Quartet closes out the July season by reveling in their eclectic, self-made repertoire.

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Flower Piano | July 11–22

In San Francisco

For the fifth year now, Sunset Piano, in partnership with San Francisco Botanical Garden, will bring over a dozen grand pianos to the spectacular 55-acre Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park for their interactive music festival, Flower Piano. More than 12 grand pianos are placed in beautiful garden settings for anyone to play, with performances by brilliant local musicians scheduled on weekends. Visit the Garden during the festival and hear everything from Chopin played by conservatory-trained pros to amateur chamber ensembles to impromptu jazz sessions to old-time fiddle jams with piano accompaniment.

Flower Piano at Night (July 18–20), is a ticketed event with adult refreshments, snacks, elaborate lighting design, and Sunset Piano performers. Over sixty thousand people experienced music of all kinds from both sides of the keyboard in 2018.

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Music@Menlo | July 12 – Aug. 3

About 1 hour from San Francisco

season announcement from Music@Menlo is an event in itself! The well-loved local festival picks an annual theme that captures the scope and ambition of classic chamber music repertoire and arranges its schedule accordingly. This year’s theme: “Incredible Decades.” With programs that range from the twilight of the Classical period to the Roaring ’20s, listeners can expect great music and something of a music history lesson as well.

Outside of its seven theme-inspired chamber concerts, Music@Menlo offers a bevy of other programs: a lecture series, artist-curated recitals, performances by the young musicians studying in the festival’s Chamber Music Institute, and more. Tickets are sensibly priced, with many free events.

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Mendocino Music Festival | July 13–27

About 3.5 hours from San Francisco

From orchestras to big bands, string quartets to singer/songwriters, Mendocino hosts a genteel summer season. The scenic setting doesn’t hurt; with the perennial tagline of “Music at the Edge of the World,” the festival indulges attendees with a big-top tent that overlooks the headland coast. Stay for a weekend and hear the Festival Orchestra, led by Symphony of the Redwoods Music Director Allan Pollack, or stop in any of the 15 days this July. A week-long piano series highlights Bay Area pianists Robert Schwartz and Robin Sutherland. Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love gets a one-night-only performance on July 19. And musicians in every genre — Quebec folk band Le Vent du Nord, Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad, and all-woman a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock — populate this diverse and busy schedule.

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Carmel Bach Festival | July 13–27

About 2.5 hours from San Francisco

The German master underpins every program, but the selections go far beyond Bach. This two-week festival comprises more than 40 events, from full-blown oratorios to recitals and masterclasses. Haydn’s The Creation, selections from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (in July!), and Bernard Herrmann’s suite from Psycho are all on the Festival Orchestra docket. An intriguing series of recitals pairs instruments with the specific influence of the great composer (“Bach and the Flute,” “Bach and the Lute”). Candlelight programs, beginning at 8:30 p.m., offer a contemplative ending to each festival weekend. And for those pressed for time, the “Best of the Fest” on July 27 reprises standout performances from the past 14 days.

Music Director Paul Goodwin oversees the festival in its 82nd season.

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Valley of the Moon Music Festival | July 13–28       

About 1.5 hours from San Francisco

The historical predilections of Valley of the Moon have always zeroed in on 19th-century music on period instruments. And for the festival’s 2019 season, the focus is timely; six concerts explore the influence of individual salonnières, the women behind the commissioning and creation of major works in a variety of capital cities, from Countess Maria Thun, who patronized Mozart (and was the dedicatee of Beethoven's Op. 11 piano trio, to  Winaretta Singer, the Princesse de Polignac, whose Parisian salon harbored Debussy, Faure, and Ravel, among others.. The music ranges from Bach to Stravinsky. The festival takes its name from its location, Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon Winery, and wine pairings are abundant, from post-concert receptions to formal Winery dinners.

Early music specialists — Nicholas McGegan, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Tanya Tomkins, Eric Zivian, and more — feature on each program, and violinist Rachel Barton Pine plays two concerts, July 20 and 21.

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Bear Valley Music Festival | July 19 – Aug. 4

About 4 hours from San Francisco

Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan leads this eclectic festival in its 51st season. The music is wide-ranging, with tribute concerts to Carole King, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, and Dolly Parton, a jazz evening with guitarist Mimi Fox, and orchestral evenings with guests such as Olga Kern with her son Vladislav Kern, violinist Kelly Hall-Tomkins, and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner. A family concert, Broadway night, and a gala dinner round out the festival.

Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains on the eastern edge of the state, the festival partners with a variety of area businesses and offers a compact list of dining and lodging options on its website.

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Festival Mozaic | July 24 – Aug. 4

About 4 hours from San Francisco

Each summer since its beginnings in 1971, Festival Mozaic transforms the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture for a couple weeks in July. This year, Music Director Scott Yoo will lead visiting artists gathered from top orchestras and chamber ensembles from around the world in performances in scenic venues all over picturesque San Luis Obispo County. Festival Mozaic programs fall into five series: Chamber, Orchestra, UnClassical, Notable Encounters, and Midday Mini-Concerts.

Orchestral concerts include “Baroque in the Vines,” “Mozart in the Mission,” and Spanish Flair.” Chamber concerts span hundreds of years of music, from Mozart up to a world premiere of Michael Fine’s Bassoon Quintet. UnClassical events include an evening of flamenco music and dance and world fusion with Ancient Future. Notable Encounters this year include an interactive dinner and concert focusing on Ravel’s Iberian Influence and a brunch concert spotlighting Brahms’s fascination with the music of the Roma people.

SLO’s close proximity to California’s agricultural epicenter and adjacent award-winning wineries plays a big part in the Festival’s events. At the Notable Encounters series, attendees learn more about the music via interactive performances set in architecturally interesting venues.

Ticket prices vary dramatically with events, depending on the venue and whether music is paired with food and/or drink.

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Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival | July 26 – Aug. 11

About 6.5 hours from San Francisco

Founded in 2011 by pianist Ian Scarfe and violinist Ellen McGehee, this festival fills both the role of a wilderness retreat for musicians and a community arts organization. It has grown since, becoming one of the premiere presenters of classical chamber music in Northern California. With dozens of performances each year, including seasonal programs, tours of local schools, family concerts.

Details for this year’s festival are pending, but basic dates have been listed, with concerts in communities in and around Trinity County the weekends of July 26–28 and Aug. 9–11, and San Francisco Bay Area performances Aug. 1–2. Look for additional details as they become available.

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Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music | July 28 – Aug. 11   

About 1.5 hours from San Francisco

Cristian Măcelaru returns for his third season as music director and brings with him a jam-packed roster of guest artists. As always, living composers take on an especially prominent role; the festival features one of the highest concentrations of composers-in-residence per square foot known to man and music-kind.

Fourteen composers are featured, including Anna Clyne, Du Yun, Jake Heggie, Tan Dun, Caroline Shaw, and Wynton Marsalis — most in residence.  Premieres of every kind — world, U.S., and West Coast — abound. This year’s guest artists are Jamie Barton, Roomful of Teeth, Megan Levad, Inbal Segev, Clarice Assad, Sarah Fuller, and Nicola Benedetti.

On the educational front, the festival continues its tradition of hosting open rehearsals, panel discussions, pre-concert talks, and its flagship Conductors/Composers Workshop, a training program focused on the creation and performance of new music by young professionals.

Festival tickets range from $30–$67, with several events free and open to the public. Mainstage concerts are held at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

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American Bach Soloists Festival and Academy | July 28 – Aug. 11

In San Francisco

Now in its 10th year, the ABS Festival and Academy is a Baroque break from summer pops. All events are at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The ABS stalwarts perform with young Academy participants on several occasions. Music is presented in concerts plus two performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass, which is always the climax of an ABS Festival. Concert themes include “’Tis Nature’s Voice,” “Treasures From Lyon,” “Les Goûts Réunis,” and two evenings of Handel and Lotti.

In addition, there is an Academy-in-Action “Baroque Marathon,” a “Public Colloquia” series, lectures about music at the festival, and public master classes. New this summer: A free “Coffee House Concert” featuring Academy musicians and a “Bach Explorations” series that includes concerts titled “Bach to Bluegrass & Beyond” and “Bach Re-Imagined.” See the full schedule here.

The cast of musicians under the baton of Jeffrey Thomas will be familiar to ABS fans, and of course there is the nonpareil ABS Chorus. The Academy participants are budding virtuosi themselves and many of their performances — including the Baroque Marathon concert series — as well as all master classes and lectures are completely free to the public.

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Music in the Vineyards | July 31 – Aug. 25

About 1.5 hours from San Francisco

In the vineyards, literally. Venues include some of America’s greatest wineries as well as the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Napa Valley College campus. The festival celebrates its 25th season with 25 concerts boasting 93 violinists, 52 violists, 64 cellists, 11 bassists, 31 pianists, 14 singers, 12 clarinetists, 11 flutists, nine bassoonists, nine horn players, eight oboists, four harpsichordists, three trumpeters, three percussionists, three guitarists, two recorder players, one harpist, one trombonist, and 30 ensembles.

There are a number of free events, including open rehearsals and a competition winners showcase. Artists include the Dover Quartet, Pacifica Quartet, Tesla Quartet, Joshua Roman, Arnaud Sussmann, Kristin Lee, and many more. Download the festival brochure to see a complete list of artists, concerts, and venues.

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La Jolla SummerFest | Aug. 2–23

About 8 hours from San Francisco

This year’s festival marks a new era for the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, which will present concerts for the first time in their brand-new home, the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, with concerts in the acoustically spectacular Baker-Baum Concert Hall. This year also marks the inaugural season with internationally acclaimed pianist, Inon Barnatan, as SummerFest music director. The overarching theme this year is Transformation: How do composers build on what came before them? How does one art form interact with and change another? How does transforming a physical space affect how we experience music?

There are 14 concerts with titles including “The Time Traveler’s Suite,” “Songs of Heaven and Earth,” and “Mozart Reworked.” Along the way the Quartets Brentano, Ehnes, and Miró, will present the complete Beethoven quartets over the course of three concerts. Also look for events pairing visual arts with music, curated discussions, and a fancy gala. More details in the festival brochure.

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West Edge Opera Festival | Aug. 3–18

About 45 minutes from San Francisco

Now approaching its 38th season, West Edge Opera remains one of the truly indispensable small opera companies in the Bay Area. They have presented their festivals in a number of fascinating, mostly industrial facilities near the East Bay’s waterfront, and this year they are staging operas in the Bridge Works near the eastern base of the Bay Bridge. West Edge has presented over 90 complete operas by more than 50 different composers. Repertoire includes new and unusual works as well as both favorite and lesser-known works by well-known composers. West Edge opera has presented world, American, and West-Coast opera premieres, and commissioned two new operas and several new translations and adaptations of classic works. This summer’s offerings continue the tradition.

Look for Weil’s The Threepenny Opera on Aug. 3, 11, and 15, Gluck’s Orfeo & Euridice on Aug. 4, 9, and 17, which features an all-female cast and production team, and Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves on Aug. 10, 16, and 18.

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San Francisco International Piano Festival | Aug. 15–25

In San Francisco, Berkeley, Piedmont, and Vallejo

Three years ago, pianist Jeffery LaDeur and several of his piano-playing colleagues got together to form the New Piano Collective and put together a small festival where they could present music they’d been working on to the public. Now in its third iteration, the small, San Francisco festival has a number of cool concerts with adventurous new scores for those willing to seek music off the beaten paths.

On August 16, at Freight and Salvage, Bobby Mitchell plays the local premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s Songs of Insurrection (2016), which, like Rzweski’s most famous piece, The People United Will Never Be Defeated, draws on protest songs for inspiration. In another, evening length work, Aug. 17 at Old First Presbyterian (co-presented with Old First Concerts), Paul Sanchez, soprano Kayleen Sanchez, and violist Eka Gogichashvili play David Gordon’s Mysteria Incarnationis (2015), which draws on selections of fourth-century poet Ephram the Syrian’s Hymns on the Nativity, which will be sung in Syriac. 

At the Empress Theatre in Vallejo, Aug. 22, Johnandrew Slominski performs Mozart and Brahms, and then Eunmi Ko takes over with new nonagenarian George Crumb’s Makrokosmos, Book II and David Liptak’s similarly cosmos-inspired Constellations. On Aug. 24, at Berkeley’s Maybeck Studio, Jiyang Chen shares a program with Albert Kim, who will perform Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. At SFCM, Mitchell plays Franz Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony — All. By. Himself. And LaDeur closes out the festival, Aug. 25, in grand style at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco with guests the Alexander String Quartet, bassist Scott Pingel, and mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich. It’s a pretty big endeavor from a small organization.

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Lake Tahoe Music Festival | Aug. 20–25

About 4 hours from San Francisco

The Lake Tahoe Music Festival has been running for over 30 years now. The 26-piece Academy Orchestra includes elite student musicians from across the United States under the direction of Maestro Timm Rolek. Featured soloists this year include baritone Malcolm MacKenzie and trumpeter Joseph Brown. Five “sunset serenade” concerts plus an open rehearsal in six days, complete with summer-at-the-lake ambiance at west shore venues in Tahoma, Tahoe City, Homewood, and Truckee.  At 6 p.m., before the gloaming. Picnics encouraged.  Alcohol permitted, along with deck chairs. Tickets $20 for students up to $70 for the deluxe dinner concert. Children under 12 are free.

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Monterey Jazz Festival | Sept. 27–29

About 2 hours from San Francisco

The biggest of the big for serious jazzers and committed festivalgoers alike. Star power names, this year including Diana Krall, The Kenny Barron – Dave Holland Trio, the Christian McBride Big Band, Chris Botti, and countless others, pack the three days of the festival full. You won’t be able to see every single one, but just one of these acts alone is reason enough to go.

Single day and weekend passes are available, and vary widely in accessibility and price.

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