Stern Grove | June 20 – Aug. 29
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival | June 26 – Aug. 28
Music Academy of the West | June 28 – Aug. 7
Chamber Music Northwest | July 1–25
Stanford Live (at Frost Amphitheater) | July 1 – Oct. 24
San Francisco Symphony | July 2 – Aug. 13
Grand Teton Music Festival | July 2 – Aug. 21
Merola Opera Program | July 3–31
Hollywood Bowl | July 3 – Sept. 28
Pacific Symphony | July 4 – Sept. 11
Midsummer Mozart Festival | July 10–11
San Francisco Performances | July 14–24
Festival Napa Valley | July 16–25
Mendocino Music Festival | July 16–25
[email protected] Festival | July 16 – Aug. 1
Valley of the Moon Festival | July 17 – Aug. 1
Ventura Music Festival | July 23–25
Bear Valley Music Festival | July 23 – Aug. 1
Festival Mozaic | July 24–31
West Edge Opera Festival | July 24 – Aug. 8
Britt Music Festival | July 25 – Sept. 1
Classical Tahoe Music Festival | July 30 – Aug. 15
La Jolla SummerFest | July 30 – Aug. 20
The Ford | July 30 – Oct. 30
Cabrillo Music Festival | July 31 – Aug. 8
American Bach Soloists Festival | Aug. 1–7
Music in the Vineyards | Aug. 4–22
Festival Opera | Aug. 13–15
San Francisco International Piano Festival | Aug. 19–29
Mainly Mozart | Sept. 11–18
Ojai Music Festival | Sept. 16–19
Flower Piano | Sept. 17–21
Monterey Jazz Festival | Sept. 24–26
Carmel Bach Festival | Oct. 23 – Nov. 5


Stern Grove Festival | June 20 – Aug. 29

 

In San Francisco

Sun and fog and groove in the Grove have already been back for two weeks, but there’s eight weeks of fun left in this San Francisco festival, with the SF Symphony appearing on July 4, followed by a variety of acts from electronica masters Thievery Corporation (July 11) to punk elder statespeople X and The Avengers (July 25) to bassist/singer/songwriter Thundercat (Aug. 8) to L.A. indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums (Aug. 15), and winding up with the legendary Tower of Power (Aug. 29).

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Yerba Buena Gardens Festival | June 26 – Aug. 28


In San Francisco

If you’re just tuning in to the summer festival thing, then you’ve already missed the beloved Bobi Cespedes last weekend, but Festival Executive and Artistic Director Linda Lucero has some great things planned, almost exclusively made up of local Bay Area artists including the hybrid hip-hop of Ensemble Mik Nawooj (July 24), Camille Mai’s compelling but uncategorizable jazz group Rebirth Canal (July 8), zydeco accordionist Andre Thierry (July 22), and, further out, Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids (Aug. 7, launching the monthlong AfroSolo Arts in the Gardens series), Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers (Aug. 5), and the Winnama Ba-Kay Yachma Pomo Dancers (Aug. 26, presented by the Native Contemporary Arts Festival). The concerts — an hour to an hour and a half — are perfect to introduce music to younger listeners.

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Music Academy of the West | June 27 – Aug. 6


About 5 hours from San Francisco, 2 hours from Los Angeles

This advanced music training program is a bonanza for Santa Barbara residents and anybody passing through during the month-and-a-half of the festival. Like Tanglewood, Aspen, and others, the Music Academy of the West features young professionals whose musicmaking is hardly less entrancing than their mentors. There are a number of competitions including a Marilyn Horne Song Competition (Aug. 6). New this year is the x2 student-mentor recital concerts, featuring broadly diverse repertory. In addition to orchestra concerts, there are guest artist recitals from, among others, Jeremy Denk (July 14), Steven Isserlis (July 15), Sasha Cooke (July 21), the Takács Quartet (July 22) Tyshawn Sorey (July 26), and Conrad Tao (Aug. 3). Guest conductors include Michael Tilson Thomas and Marin Alsop.

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Chamber Music Northwest | July 1–25

 

About 10 hours from San Francisco

Portland’s pride and joy, in the Kaul Auditorium, on the campus of Reed College, returns live this year. But it’s also virtual, online on the CMNW website or on your smartphone, tablet, or TV (available later, from July 15 through Aug. 7). The lineup is stellar as usual, headlined by the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, returning favs the Dover and Brentano String Quartets, and the Jupiter String Quartet. Individual artists include Artistic Director Emeritus David Shifrin, Artistic Directors Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and bass-baritone Davóne Tines.

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Stanford Live | July 1 – Aug. 29, Oct. 7–24

 

Less than an hour from San Francisco

The SF Symphony has, as you know, established a summer home at the outdoor Frost Amphitheater at Stanford (and don’t miss Salonen conduct Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony [July 17] or Michael Morgan weighing in with Louise Farrenc’s Third Symphony [July 24]), but the exciting summer lineup is too star-filled to list all the highlights. SFJAZZ is lending a hand, bringing in such acts as Fantastic Negrito (July 8) and the Marcus Shelby Quintet with Tiffany Austin (Aug. 5). Meanwhile, the regularly scheduled acts include everything from the Afro-Mexican L.A.-based band Las Cafeteras (July 9) to the delights of My Bollywood Jukebox (July 25) to the long-awaited reunion concert Not Our First Goat Rodeo (Aug. 20). Classical fans won’t want to miss Leonard Slatkin and the Taipei Music Academy and Festival Orchestra (July 20) and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performing in The No One’s Rose, a world premiere opera from the American Modern Opera Company.

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San Francisco Symphony | July 2 – Aug. 13

 

In San Francisco and less than an hour from San Francisco

As Janos Gereben has reported in detail, the SF Symphony is back in the saddle for the summer, primarily at both Davies Symphony Hall and Frost Amphitheater at Stanford University. Don’t miss Salonen conduct Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony (July 17) or Michael Morgan weighing in with Louise Farrenc’s Third Symphony (July 24).

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Grand Teton Music Festival | July 2 – Aug. 21


About 14 hours from San Francisco

Awesome scenery may be a big part of the experience of this festival, but its 60th season is going to go lofty on music as well. Star performers and highlights include cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Leila Josefowicz, a world premiere by composer Melody Eötvös, and a Jessie Montgomery co-commission with soprano Julia Bullock. The new Gateways series will include bluegrass trio Time for Three and Third Coast Percussion.

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Merola Opera Program | July 3 31

Merola 2021


In San Francisco

As Janos Gereben has recently detailed in a music news item, the training program will offer a song recital, “What the Heart Desires,” co-curated by Ronnita Miller (Merola ’05) and Nicholas Phan, on July 3, followed by the Merola Grand Finale on July 31. Back Home: Through the Stage Door, a digital recital and film by director David Paul, will be available to the public on Aug. 27.

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Hollywood Bowl | July 3 – Oct. 31

hollywood_bowl_full.jpeg


In Los Angeles

So big that even summer cannot contain it: the Hollywood Bowl surprised everyone when they announced a full summer schedule, but as far as we know, the LA Phil’s bet looks good. The roster is packed with talent, from Christina Aguilera (July 16–17) and Kamasi Washington (July 18) to Ziggy Marley (Aug. 1) and H.E.R. (Aug.13–14), through to the season ending concerts with Hall and Oates, Van Morrison, and Alanis Morissette. LA Phil fans can take their pick, but definitely watch out for Alison Balsom playing Thea Musgrave’s new trumpet concerto, Tianyi Lu conducting (July 20); Isata Kanneh-Mason playing Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto, Gemma New conducting (Aug. 5); and Anne Akiko Meyers soloing in the world premiere of Arturo Márquez’s Fandango, under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel (Aug. 24).

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Pacific Symphony | July 4 – Sept. 11


About an hour from Los Angeles

Pacific Symphony has two summer series: Summerfest and Symphony in the Cities. The first begins with an Elton John tribute on July 4 at FivePoint Amphitheater. On Aug. 14, the orchestra comes to Oso Viejo Community Park on the Village Green in Mission Viejo for a family concert, program to be announced. Aug. 21, the orchestra synchs itself to Toy Story, playing the score live at the Pacific Amphitheatre at the OC Fair and Event Center. Aug. 22, they take the road to Orange, playing in the Aitken Arts Plaza at Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University. On Sept. 3, Pink Martini plays the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, at Pacific Symphony’s invitation, and the summer shebang winds up on Sept. 11 with the Tchaikovsky Spectacular, once again at the Pacific Amphitheatre.

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Midsummer Mozart Festival | July 10–11


About an hour from San Francisco

The Bay Area institution returns for its 46th season featuring flutist Stacey Pelinka and Artistic Director Paul Schrage (also piano soloist) with the Festival Orchestra at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma (July 10) and at Mountain Winery in Saratoga (July 11). The program? Mozart, of course.

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San Francisco Performances | July 14–24


In San Francisco

As we reported earlier, the concert presenter’s first-ever summer season “features artists previously scheduled to perform in the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 seasons whose concerts were postponed due to COVID-19, many of them SFP favorites, including pianists Natasha Paremski, Garrick Ohlsson, Timo Andres, and Marc-André Hamelin, guitarist William Kanengiser, the Alexander String Quartet, violinist Jennifer Koh, and cellist Jay Campbell. This season marks debut performances from pianists David Greilsammer and Aaron Diehl.”

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Festival Napa Valley | July 16–25


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 after-parties. Opening night features soprano Lisette Oropesa. On July 22, Bay Area pianist Audrey Vardanega, one of this year’s Bouchaine Young Artists, plays a recital of Chopin and Mozart. Also on tap: a tribute to Tony Bennett, “Opera Under the Stars” with Michael Fabiano, and a dance gala led by ballet superstar Roberto Bolle. It’s all outdoor venues this year. Marking its 15th anniversary, the festival is offering $15 tickets for many evening concerts. And daytime performances are admission-free, with reservations required.

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Mendocino Music Festival | July 16–25 


About 3.5 hours from San Francisco

Mendocino Music Festival is changing locations this year, from the usual big-top tent to the gracious, lovely Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg. Stay for a weekend and hear the Festival String Orchestra, led by Symphony of the Redwoods Music Director Allan Pollack, or stop in any of the 10 days this July. Musicians in every genre — bluegrass group Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, singer-songwriter Perla Batalla, and San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet — populate the diverse lineup.

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[email protected] Festival | July 16 – Aug. 1


About an hour from San Francisco

Smaller in size than its 18 previous seasons, but as ambitious and star-studded as ever, [email protected] is launching a live and livestreamed 2021 season. Artistic Directors Wu Han and David Finckel have announced a season called “Gather” in and around the festival’s new home, the Spieker Center for the Arts. Main concerts and auxiliary events are as usual, but more squeezed together: three weekends of performances, each with its own theme (“Coming Together,” July 16–18, “Modern Romance,” July 24–25, and “Take Five,” July 30 – Aug. 1).

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Valley of the Moon Music Festival | July 17 – Aug. 1


About 1.5 hours from San Francisco

Fans of chamber music on period instruments rejoice! Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s programming this year features Classical and Romantic music with a wistful theme: “Love and Longing: Reaching Across the Distance.” The eight festival concerts — some in-person, some virtual — build to a hope-filled finale, a performance celebrating the joy and optimism of youth and renewal. Of course, many of the Bay Area’s early-music specialists — Elizabeth Blumenstock, Tanya Tomkins, Eric Zivian, and more — feature on each program.

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Ventura Music Festival | July 23–25

 

About 6.5 hours from San Francisco

The Ventura Music Festival is just three performances this year. On July 23, look for jazz and pop from singer-trombonist Aubrey Logan — “at the top of her game,” says Festival Executive Director Susan Scott. Then, a crossover program from string trio Time for Three on July 24, and a classical guitar performance by Andrea Roberto, winner of the 2019 Parkening International Competition, July 25.

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Bear Valley Music Festival | July 23 – Aug. 1

 

About 4 hours from San Francisco

Oakland Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan leads this eclectic festival. The music is wide-ranging, with tribute concerts to Santana and Linda Ronstadt, an evening with genre-defying harpist and guitarist Carlos Reyes, and orchestral programs stacked with favorite composers: Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, and more. 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 24–31


About 4 hours from San Francisco, 3 hours from Los Angeles

Since 1971, Festival Mozaic has transformed the Central Coast of California into a hotbed of classical music culture for a handful of days in July. This year, it’s understandably chamber-focused, with top artists from around the world featured in performances in scenic venues all over picturesque San Luis Obispo County. SLO’s close proximity to California’s agricultural epicenter and adjacent award-winning wineries plays a big part in the festival’s events. Ticket prices vary dramatically, depending on the venue and whether music is paired with food and/or drink. And hurry, tickets are going quick this year!

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West Edge Opera Festival | July 24 – Aug. 8


Less than an hour from San Francisco

West Edge Opera remains one of the Bay Area’s truly indispensable small opera companies. The peripatetic organization has presented its festivals in a number of fascinating, mostly industrial facilities near the East Bay’s waterfront. This year, West Edge heads to Orinda’s Bruns Theater, where the company staged its Snapshot program back in May. The 2021 season follows West Edge’s usual appealing combination of a classic (Janáček’s Katya Kabanová) with a seldom-performed old rarity (Francesco Cavalli’s Eliogabalo) and a contemporary work (Kevin Puts’s Elizabeth Cree).

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Britt Music Festival | July 25 – Sept. 1

 

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. The festival kicks off with a classical program July 25, led by Music Director Teddy Abrams. Unique to this post-pandemic season are two contemporary “walking” works: Ellen Reid’s app-based SOUNDWALK and Caroline Shaw’s Brush: Music in the Woodlands, performed on trails around Britt Pavilion. The lineup gets busy in August with a series of popular, big-name acts: Gladys Knight, Pink Martini, ZZ Top, and many more.

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Classical Tahoe | July 30 – Aug. 15 


About 4 hours from San Francisco

A trio of guest conductors — Ming Luke, Tito Muñoz, and Gabriela Díaz-Alatriste — lead the orchestral concerts in Tahoe this year. (Conductor Joel Revzen, who had been with the festival since its founding in 2012, died from COVID-19 complications in 2020.) It’s a return that’s decidedly commemorative: Classical Tahoe celebrates its 10th anniversary with the 2021 season. In addition to the orchestral programs, there are a handful of chamber concerts, plus two performances with the Brubeck Brothers Quartet that close out the season.

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La Jolla SummerFest | July 30 – Aug. 20


About 8 hours from San Francisco, 2 hours from Los Angeles

The La Jolla Music Society returns to the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center with SummerFest. It’s also another year with internationally acclaimed pianist Inon Barnatan at the helm as music director. The overarching theme in 2021 is “Self and Sound,” all about how music can turn solitary self-examination into a communal experience. There are 16 concerts, featuring more than 80 artists: cellist Alisa Weilerstein, pianist Daniil Trifonov, and clarinetist Anthony McGill, to name a few. And there are more than 50 free education and community events. Check out the busy lineup via the festival’s brochure.

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The Ford | July 30 – Oct. 30


In Los Angeles

The Ford’s summer season isn’t a festival per se, but this return to live performance certainly looks to be festive. The fun begins with a half-dozen free concerts, starting with a collaboration between the Marías and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles on July 30, and running through Aug. 8 with a range of acts including the Improvised Shakespeare Company, the Taiko Project, and chamber music with the LA Phil. Regular paid concerts run through October, and feature a remarkably diverse roster that finds room for operas from Schoenberg, Kate Soper, and Rossini, jazz with Cécile McLorin Salvant and Billy Childs, and a gamut of singer-songwriters, indie-pop artists, folklore extravaganzas, and more.

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Cabrillo Music Festival | July 31 – Aug. 8


Streaming

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, America’s longest-running festival of new orchestral music, presents its second-ever virtual season over two weekends in summer 2021: July 31–August 1, and August 7–8. Season highlights include world premieres by composers Gabriela Lena Frank, Jake Heggie, and Sean Shepherd. The festival’s 2021 virtual season is free to the public and features offerings of dance, photography, videography and animation. Guest artists include St. Lawrence String Quartet, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, violinist Benjamin Beilman, and the award-winning Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Cristian Măcelaru.

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American Bach Soloists Festival | Aug. 1–7


In San Francisco

The lauded Academy portion of the annual American Bach Soloists Festival is on hold this year, but early music mavens can rejoice I the robust program of live music offered this year. The five concerts are offered under the rubric of “The Garden of Harmony,” and the ABS website describes the themes of the individual shows.

“Triples Alley” features three concertos for three violins by three great Baroque composers: Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi. The concert—all about teamwork and collaboration—includes a grand slam in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins. “Transformation” features music by Bach and transcriptions of the same works by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, and Ysaÿe. “The Devil’s Trill” brings virtuoso violin music front and center in a concert of tour de force works by Bach, Handel, and Tartini featuring some of ABS’s most exciting performers. “Bach and His World,” featuring captivating works by Johann Sebastian and the composers who inspired his genius. The festival closes with “The Garden of Harmony,” a sensational program of music about birds, animals, and the harmony of nature. While we were sheltering to protect each other, nature flourished in ways that it hadn’t for many years. This concert celebrates that inspiring part of our shared experiences.

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Music in the Vineyards | Aug. 4–22


About 1.5 hours from San Francisco

In-person classical music is back in the Napa Valley with this 27th-annual chamber music festival, complete with award-winning artists, beautiful settings, and witty concert commentary that Music in the Vineyards is known for. The festival boasts 16 concerts performed in charming settings at famous wineries including Domaine Carneros, Frog’s Leap, Sang-Froid, Charles Krug, Chimney Rock, Silverado, Robert Mondavi, Hess, Clos Pegase, and Inglenook. Featured musicians include the Escher, Miró, and Solideo Quartets; violinists Gabrielle Després, Axel Strauss; violists Pei-Ling Lin, Dimitri Murrath, and Masumi Per Rostad; cellists Edward Aaron, Nicholas Canellakis, Kari Jane Docter, and Tanya Tomkins; pianists Michael Brown, Wei-Yi Yang, and Eric Zivian, bassist Scott Pingel, and guitarist Jason Vieaux.

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Festival Opera | Aug. 13–15

Scene from "A Look or a Touch"


About an hour from San Francisco

This year’s Festival Opera in Walnut Creek is streamlined down to a single opera — their planned performance of Carmen was rescheduled to 2023 to comply with safety concerns — but the performances on tap are cause for celebration. Aug. 13 and 15, the company presents the world premiere of “A Jake Heggie Triptych,” which features three song cycles reimagined as fully staged chamber operas. According to the festival website, “These three moving narratives share one common theme: the deep human desire for love and acceptance. Festival Opera welcomes a world-class cast of West Coast artists with strong ties to Heggie’s operas and song repertoire. As we celebrate our 30th Anniversary Season, we are thrilled and honored to feature the collaboration and performance of Jake Heggie himself in this newly assembled work. This production is the result of General Director Zachary Gordin’s long standing relationship with Jake Heggie and his works, and of their conversations about what opera can be in this era of rebirth.”

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San Francisco International Piano Festival | Aug. 19–29


In San Francisco

According to Artistic Director Jeffrey LaDeur, “San Francisco International Piano Festival presents its Season 4.5 through the lens of an historical epoch that is both precedent and premonition: the 1918 Spanish Flu, the conclusion of World War I in 1919, and the advent of the roaring ’20s. The Piano Festival takes its inspiration from this moment and follows the thread of innocence lost and reclaimed, tragedy mourned, joy in rebirth, and the dizzying juxtaposition of folly and destruction.” With live, livestreamed, and prerecorded performances, the concert programs range from an exploration of the Goldberg Variations with Lowry Yankwich to Nicholas Phillips’s celebration of compositions by Charles Tomlinson Griffes to a world premiere of Graham Lynch’s White Book III, performed by Paul Sánchez. Also look for a collaboration with the Young Chamber Musicians program and a masterclass with Albert Kim. See the full roster at the SFIPF website.

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Mainly Mozart | Sept. 11–18


About 9 hours from San Francisco, 2 hours from Los Angeles

The late-summer Mainly Mozart festival event is the “All Star Orchestra Encore,” described as “the largest gathering of concertmasters and principal players in North America since 1988.” David Chan conducts the All-Stars over the course of five concerts. Programs are still to be announced for concerts on Sept. 12, 14, 17, and 18. The Sept. 11 show is a 9/11 commemoration featuring saxophone legend Brandford Marsalis in a concert dubbed “A Path Forward.”    

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Ojai Music Festival | Sept. 16–19


About 7 hours from San Francisco, 2 hours from Los Angeles

John Adams takes the helm for this 75th-anniversary edition of the Ojai Music Festival, and he just announced his initial programming. 2021 Festival composers include Samuel Carl Adams, Timo Andres, Dylan Mattingly, Gabriela Ortiz, Rhiannon Giddens, Carlos Simon, and Gabriella Smith. Artists making their Ojai debuts include Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, Attacca Quartet, violinist Miranda Cuckson, and recorder player Anna Margules. Returning this year are pianist/composer Timo Andres and members of the LA Phil New Music Group. The roster features the world premiere of Sunt Lacrimae Rerum by Dylan Mattingly along with the west coast premiere of Samuel Carl Adams’s Chamber Concerto. Also on tap is a free concert for the community by festival artists playing alongside Ojai school children in conjunction with its BRAVO education program.

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Flower Piano | Sept. 17–21


In San Francisco

This down-to-earth festival is lovely and loads of fun. Details for the sixth Flower Piano event in Golden Gate Park are yet to be announced, but the organizers are urging enthusiasts to stand by for an update soon. In the meantime, check out the 2019 program to get an idea of what’s in store. In addition to the scheduled events with local musical luminaries and emerging artists, expect hundreds of impromptu recitals, jams, and experimental tinkling on the dozen pianos artfully located throughout the park.

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Monterey Jazz Festival | Sept. 24–26


About 2 hours from San Francisco

This is one of the nation’s great jazz weekends, and this year’s three-day festival harkens back to the celebration’s early years, featuring performances on the fairground’s Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena and the Courtyard Stage only. The multiple Grammy-Award winning lineup features Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Pat Metheny Side-Eye, Christian Sands Group, Kandace Springs, Las Cafeteras, Miho Hazama and her m_unit ensemble, and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra directed by Gerald Clayton, and more artists to be announced. Three-day Tickets will be available in early July.

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Carmel Bach Festival | Oct. 23 – Nov. 5


About 2.5 hours from San Francisco

A late October start might be pushing the definition of “summer festival,” but this annual Carmel celebration is worthy cap to the season. Fourteen “live and in-person” concerts take place in the Sunset Cultural Center, with conductor Paul Goodwin wielding the baton with the festival orchestra, chorale, and soloists at most of them. J.S. Bach is the center of attention, of course, but look for concerts featuring other composers, too, including Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Debussy, Rossini, Beethoven, and Wagner. Soloists this year include soprano Clara Rottsolk, tenor Thomas Cooley, guitarist William Coulter, and violinist Edwin Huizinga.

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