SFCV Summer Festival Guide 2022

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival | May 7 – Oct. 29
Mountain Play | May 22 – June 19
Hollywood Bowl | June 3 – Sept. 29
SongFest | June 3–27
San Francisco Opera Summer Season | June 4 – July 3

Berkeley Early Music Festival and Exhibition
| June 512
Britt Music Festival | June 5 – Sept 11
Ojai Music Festival | June 9–12
Mainly Mozart | June 10–18
Healdsburg Jazz Festival | June 12–19
The Ford | June 12 – Sept. 24
Music Academy of the West | June 13 – Aug. 6
Festival Opera | June 16, Aug. 26
Stern Grove | June 19 – Aug. 26
Chamber Music Northwest | June 26 – July 31
San Francisco Symphony | June 29 – Aug. 7  
Pacific Symphony | July 4 – Sept. 4
Stanford Live (at Frost Amphitheater) | July 8 – Aug. 6
Mendocino Music Festival | July 9–23
Merola Opera Program | May 22 – Aug. 20
Carmel Bach Festival | July 9–23
Music@Menlo Festival | July 14 – Aug. 6
Festival Napa Valley | July 15–24
Valley of the Moon Festival | July 16–31
Bear Valley Music Festival | July 22 – Aug 7
American Bach Soloists Festival and Academy | July 22 – Aug 7
Festival Mozaic | July 22 – Aug 7
West Edge Opera Festival | July 23 – Aug. 7
Cabrillo Music Festival | July 23 – Aug. 7
Classical Tahoe Music Festival | July 24 – Aug. 18
La Jolla SummerFest | July 29 – Aug. 26
Ventura Music Festival | July 29 – Aug. 26
Music in the Vineyards |  July 29 – Aug. 26
San Francisco International Piano Festival | July 29 – Aug. 26
Flower Piano |  Sept. 16–20
Monterey Jazz Festival | Sept. 16–20 

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival | May 7 – Oct. 29

Yerba Buena Garden Festival

Yerba Buena Gardens’ remarkable gift to Bay Area residents transcends any common notion of “summer festival,” and the 2022 edition gets already underway May 7 with Jesús Díaz Y Su Habana Afro-Cuban Ensamble, and runs into October. With admission-free presentations, music of all genres, participatory dance, theater, circus, children’s activities, and more, the Gardens are nearly always alive with the performing arts. Look for Kitka and Mariana Sadovska in “Songs for Ukraine” (May 19), Tiffany Austin (May 26), Gamelan Sekar Jaya (May 28), Mads Tolling Quartet (June 2), Nā Lei Hulu (June 18), Paula West (Aug. 6), Marcus Shelby New World Orchestra (Sept. 3), and much, much more.

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Mountain Play | May 22 – June 19

Every year, the Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre atop Mount Tamalpais plays host to a Broadway musical production on Sunday afternoons in May and June. In 2022, the show is Hello, Dolly! — the feel-good favorite with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Those trekking to the venue will want to “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” in spirit at least. Mountain Play adds a sing-along performance: Saturday, June 11.

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Hollywood Bowl | June 3 – Sept. 29


It’s a big year for the Hollywood Bowl, which turns 100. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is marking the centennial with a lineup that looks back on the Bowl’s past and ahead to its future. A free two-day event early in the season — the 101 Festival — ties in another historic venue just across the freeway, The Ford. The music of Wagner, which featured on the LA Phil’s first Bowl program back in July 1922, is reprised for what’s sure to be a standout night of the summer, a semi-staged production of Act 3 from Die Walküre on July 17.

What’s new on the schedule? Gustavo Dudamel is making the most of his latest gig, enlisting members of the Paris Opera Ballet for two programs July 20–21. Bass-baritone Davóne Tines gives the world premiere of Concerto No. 2: Anthem, a collaborative effort with the LA Phil and four leading contemporary composers (Aug. 18). And that’s only a slice of a summer full of the usual big programming, from Tchaikovsky and fireworks to jazz and pop acts taking the stage to favorite films and musicals in concert.

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SongFest | June 3–27


SongFest has made the move to the San Francisco Conservatory Music after years at L.A.’s Colburn School. More than 60 voice students, along with 10 collaborative pianists in training, will be at the Bowes Center this summer, deepening their understanding of the art song. The public can see the artistry in action with performances highlighting SongFest composers, faculty, young artists, and alumni. Some of the concerts planned: an evening dedicated to the music of John Harbison and James Primosch, recitals by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Liza Stepanova, and the program’s traditional sendoff of tunes from the Great American Songbook.

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San Francisco Opera | June 4 – July 3

SFO - "Dream of the Red Chamber"

San Francisco Opera’s summer season is the finale of the company’s 99th season and it precedes the centennial. With the combined forces of hundreds of artists and support personnel required for opera, this will be the summer’s biggest event — 16 performances attracting an audience of as many as 50,000 in the 3,146-seat War Memorial Opera House.

The season includes Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber and a Verdi concert led by Music Director Eun Sun Kim.

Bertrand de Billy conducts Don Giovanni, starring Etienne Dupuis, Luca Pisaroni, Adela Zaharia and Carmen Giannattasio. Darrell Ang conducts Dream of the Red Chamber, directed by Stan Lai with Tim Yip’s production design.

Besides the Atrium Series, the Opera also produces the Schwabacher Recital Series, featuring Merolini, running through July 28. The closing concert is by baritone Sidney Outlaw (Merola 2010) and pianist and Merola/Adler faculty member Warren Jones performing works from Lament, their recent collaboration, an album that pays homage to 20th-century American song.
—Janos Gereben

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Berkeley Early Music Festival and Exhibition | June 512

BFX - Sollazzo

The biennial Berkeley Early Music Festival and Exhibition returns in 2022, after having missed 2020. Organized once again by the San Francisco Early Music Society, mainstage concerts will include favorite local artists such as the Cantata Collective with soprano Sherezade Panthaki and bass-baritone Max-Paul Tipton, or Philharmonia Baroque stalwarts Elizabeth Blumenstock and Cynthia Keiko Black (violins), Corey Jamason (harpsichord), and Elisabeth Reed (gamba) in a concert whimsically titled “Teutonic Titans.” SFEMS is also bringing back the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis and introducing the young Swiss vocal ensemble Sollazzo Ensemble, which has recorded on the Linn label. Local choral masters Chanticleer also put in an appearance at this year’s festival.

At this festival, though, the headliner acts are only part of the story. Usually, there are more than 70 locally produced fringe concerts at the festival, and although that schedule has not been finalized, there’s every reason to hope it will be robust. There’s also the Exhibition and marketplace, where practitioners will find instruments, sheet music, books, and service organizations.

Also returning, from the 2016 edition of the festival is the Young Performers Festival, featuring Juilliard’s Ensemble 415, the SF Conservatory of Music Baroque Ensemble, the UCLA Early Music Ensemble, the USC Early Music Ensemble, and Viols of the Creek from Woodcreek Middle School (Houston, TX). UC Berkeley’s Music Department gets in on the act, via the Berkeley-Bucknell Chamber Music Collective (June 1-5) an intensive study group whose faculty and performers will give two mainstage concerts during the festival. Matthew Dirst and fellow harpsichordist David Yearsley have organized a “Well Tempered Clavier Jamboree” celebrating the 300th anniversary of the J.S. Bach masterwork (June 8). SFEMS is presenting freelance musicologist and soprano Frances Falling in a lecture on the music of Clara Schumann (June 6, Hertz Hall) right before a concert featuring Clara and Robert Schumann’s music featuring soprano Lucy Fitzgibbon and UC Berkeley harpsichordist Nicholas Mathew. And then, finally, local early music choirs Gallimaufry and Tactus form the core of community-based performances of Thomas Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in alium.

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Britt Music Festival | June 5 – Sept. 11

This summer-long festival has the time to bring in music of all genres, from classic Southern rockers ZZ Top, to a Billy Joel tribute (on the festival’s final evening), to Michael Franti and Spearhead, Norah Jones, Jason (“I’m Yours”) Mraz, to The Punch Brothers and Sarah Jarosz. But on the classical side of things, the festival is in excellent hands with conductor Teddy Abrams and the Britt Festival Orchestra, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

The anniversary led to a world premiere commissioned by the festival. The composer and pianist is Sebastian Chang, still, at 33, a young composer, despite having appeared as a 12-year-old, back in 2000, on the long-running NPR program “From the Top,” and having won his first BMI Young Composers Award a year later. The piece is his The Empress Concerto, looking back to Beethoven, whose Eroica Symphony completes the opening concert (June 17).

June 19 brings a Juneteenth concert of all-Black composers, and Abrams did not have to be coached on what to bring to this program. The unmissable concert has Adolphus Hailstork’s Still Holding On (from Symphony No. 4, 2020), Tyshawn Sorey’s For Roscoe Mitchell, Julius Eastman’s Femenine, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s “Calvary Ostinato,” from Lamentations, and Valerie Coleman’s Umoja as an opener. Abrams follows that up, five days later, with bass-baritone Davóne Tines in a song recital with the orchestra contributing Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. And two days after that (June 26), Abrams conducts his old teacher Michael Tilson Thomas’s Shówa/Shoáh followed by William Grant Still’s In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy, closing the concert with an MTT favorite, Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements. How can you not love programming like that?!

But wait, on July 1, violinist Tessa Lark comes in to play Leonard Bernstein’s concerto Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium), in a concert that opens with songs by Gabriel Kahane and closes with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. And to finish the orchestral season up, on July 3 Abrams presents “Rhythms of the Barrio,” with the “global music collective” People of Earth. And on that program, you’ll hear Tania Leon’s Ser, the West Coast premiere of Dafnis Prieto’s Tentacion (also a festival commission), Arturo Marquez’s exciting Danzon No. 2, George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, and Maurice Ravel’s summer festival standard Bolero.

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Ojai Music Festival | June 9–12

Ojai Music Festival

The Ojai Music Festival is experimenting with more than just sound this summer. Dance, and staging more generally, complements much of the music premiering at Libbey Bowl, a couple hours northwest of Los Angeles, over one action-packed weekend. The cross-disciplinary approach owes to this season’s artistic director, American Modern Opera Company, the first group to lead the festival in its 76-year history. Spearheaded by composer Matthew Aucoin and director Zack Winokur, the collective is a veritable who’s who of the young new-music world. Aucoin has conceived a cycle of “mini-concertos” to showcase the full AMOC ensemble, from flutist Emi Ferguson to bassist Doug Balliett.

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Mainly Mozart | June 10–18

Mainly Mozart

Mainly Mozart has been one of the organizations resourceful enough not to have to skip a year during the pandemic. (In summer 2020, the festival found a distanced, drive-in setup that worked, and by 2021, it was back to full programming, outdoors at Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park.) Some of that perseverance is thanks to the world-class musicians who keep returning season after season. Mainly Mozart touts “the largest gathering of concertmasters and principal players in North America.” Music Director Michael Francis leads the “All-Star Orchestra” in five concerts, and yes, Mozart makes an appearance on every program.

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Healdsburg Jazz Festival | June 13–19

Healdsburg Jazz Festival - Marcus Shelby

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival presents great jazz in a beautiful natural setting. Headliners this year include the Tiffany Austin Quintet doing two concerts (June 13), artist-in-residence Destiny Muhammad (June 15), Mads Tolling and the Mads Men featuring Kenny Washington (June 15), Bob Céspedes and Arenas Dance Company (June 16), Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini (June 16), the Charlie Musselwhite Band (June 17), the Howard Wiley Quartet with Tongo Eisen-Martin (June 17), the Destiny Muhammad Quartet with the Freedom Jazz Choir (June 18), and Dave Holland Solo & Duo & Trio (June 18).

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The Ford | June 12 – Sept. 24

The Ford

The Ford’s 1,200-seat amphitheater nestled in the Hollywood hills has been dubbed “L.A.’s Hidden Gem.” The original theater was built in 1920 as a venue for its patron’s own play; since then the Ford has evolved into a premier summer showcase for a diverse range of performing arts including classical, jazz, hip-hop, rock, folk, world music, Broadway, and beyond. Highlights include Tigran Hamasyan (June 16), LA Phil’s New Music Group hosting “Green Umbrella at The Ford” (July 6), Junction Trio (Aug. 3), Kamasi Washington (Aug. 5), and much more

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Music Academy of the West | June 13 – Aug. 6

This advanced music training program is a bonanza for Santa Barbara residents and anybody passing through during the two months 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’.

The Academy turns 75 this year, and the anniversary celebrations kick off with a community concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl (June 25). Guest conductors joining the orchestra throughout the summer include Teddy Abrams, Stéphane Denève, and Speranza Scappucci. The big event for students in the Lehrer Vocal Institute is a production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, marking the return of fully staged opera to The Granada Theatre.

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Festival Opera | June 16, Aug. 26

The recently revived Festival Opera in Walnut Creek is contributing its staple community gift, Opera in the Park on June 16 at Orinda Community Park and, as their entry in Walnut Creek’s Arts Around August summer Festival, Opera After Dark, Aug. 26 on the Lesher Center for the Arts plaza, which the company advertises as mixing opera and cabaret in an intriguing way.  This is all in addition to the company’s mainstage production of Norma (July 8 and 10 at the Hofmann Theater at the Lesher Center.

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Stern Grove | June 19 – Aug. 28 (Schedule Announced May 3)

Stern Grove Festival is a beloved annual San Francisco summer tradition, 85 years old and counting. The official roster of dates and performers will be posted on the Festival website on May 3, but in a typical year, the Festival presents ten free concerts featuring a curated mix of popular headliners, rock ’n’ roll hall-of-famers, Grammy Award-winners, and rising new stars. Past Festival performers include SF Symphony, SF Ballet, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Thundercat, Fitz & The Tantrums, the Isley Brothers, Smokey Robinson, Kool & the Gang, Toots & the Maytals, Mavis Staples, The Psychedelic Furs, Carlos Santana, Sheila E., and many more. Stern Grove Festival also presents over 30 admission-free arts education programs for youth and young adults in San Francisco each year, fulfilling its mission to make live musical experiences accessible to all.

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Chamber Music Northwest | June 26 – July 31

Portland’s chamber music presenter under Artistic Director Gloria Chien is titling its summer festival “Inspirations and Influences,” showing how classics influence contemporary musicians. As the festival puts it, “Composers and their pieces will often “talk” to each other on these programs: Claude Debussy’s harmonic liberation leading to George Crumb’s wildly colorful orchestration of Black American spirituals; Maurice Ravel, Reena Esmail, and Henry Cowell incorporating styles and tonalities of traditional music from Asia; and Melinda Wagner’s modern-day reimagining of one of the great works of the 17th century, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.”

Some of the concerts are “online virtual” only, such as the festival finale, Aug. 12, which features several Richard Strauss songs sung by mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron, the string sextet from Capriccio, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured night). Of live concerts, the festival has a “New@Night” series, shorter concerts in various locales that spotlight one or two contemporary works. Of note in this series is the July 19 performance of Andy Akiho’s Grammy-nominated Seven Pillars performed by Sandbox Percussion, for whom the work was composed. If you’re there, also catch cellist Zlatomir Fung, Oregon-raised and the youngest-ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition (2021), in an Artist Spotlight recital on July 5, at noon.

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San Francisco Symphony | June 29 ­– Aug. 7


San Francisco Symphony’s summer season opens on June 29 in Davies Symphony Hall, with Get Happy: A Judy Garland Centennial Celebration, conducted by Edwin Outwater and featuring singers Jessica Vosk and Andy Karl.

Concerts by singer Isabel Marie Sánchez, in a program dedicated to the music of Selena; the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, in Final Words; Broadway star Bernadette Peters; The Airborne Toxic Event; and Pink Martini bring pop to the party, while the orchestra performs in Davies Hall with conductors Paolo Bortolameolli, Ludovic Morlot, and Erina Yashima; pianist Inon Barnatan, cellist Johannes Moser, and string trio Time for Three.

Teddy Abrams conducts Mason Bates’s Philharmonia Fantastique in a program of “Bates and Bernstein.” Summer film concerts include The Matrix Live, Pixar in Concert, and The Goonies.

Edwin Outwater conducts the orchestra in the “Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” at Shoreline Amphitheatre. SFS also performs four Friday night concerts at Frost Amphitheater, presented by Stanford Live, July 8–29, and a free concert in Sigmund Stern Grove on July 31.
—Janos Gereben

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Pacific Symphony | July 4 – Sept. 4

Pacific Symphony

Pacific Symphony is settling into one venue for this year’s SummerFest: FivePoint Amphitheatre, in the heart of Orange County. All three concerts will be held there, starting with Windborne’s The Music of Queen on July 4. The orchestra plays the live soundtrack for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on Aug. 20. And the series ends Sept. 4 with a favorite finale, the “Tchaikovsky Spectacular,” featuring one of the medal winners from the 2022 Van Cliburn Competition in the composer’s First Piano Concerto.

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Stanford Live Arts Festival | July 8 – Aug. 6

The Stanford Live Arts Festival at Frost Amphiteater returns to the historic amphitheater for a month-long series of outdoor performances presented in partnership with Bay Area partners SFJAZZ, SF Symphony, SF Ballet, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. The festivities begin July 8 when guest conductor Erina Yashima leads the SF Symphony in Kareem Roustom’s Ramal, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, and Édouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto. Other highlights include a celebration of the music of Linda Ronstadt (July 9), , jazz legends Arturo Sandoval (July 23) and Dianne Reeves (July 30), Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte (July 24), Pink Martini and the San Francisco Symphony (July 29), and norteño band Los Tigres del Norte (July 31). Look for a program of three short ballets from SF Ballet on Aug. 5–6.

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Mendocino Music Festival | July 9–23

Mendocino Music Festival moved locations last year, from the usual big-top tent to the gracious, lovely Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg. The change has stuck for 2022, with mainstage concerts at Cotton Auditorium and smaller, more intimate performances at Mendocino’s Preston Hall. Stay for a weekend and hear the Festival Orchestra, led by Symphony of the Redwoods Music Director Allan Pollack, or stop in any day of the 15 days this July. Musicians in every genre — jazz singer Jackie Gage, Latin band Bululú, and new-music specialist Gloria Cheng — make for a diverse lineup.

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Merola Opera Program | July 9 – Aug. 20

A scene from a Merola Program

Merola Opera Program’s 65th season includes public events in addition to its main function of coaching young artists.

Making its home in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Concert Hall, the Merola season begins with “A Celebration of American Song” on July 9, curated by Craig Terry; continues with the Schwabacher Summer Concert on July 14; staged performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute on Aug. 4 and 6; and the Merola Grand Finale in the War Memorial Opera House on Aug. 20.
—Janos Gereben

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Carmel Bach Festival | July 1430

The wide -ranging Carmel Bach Festival, back at full strength, , manages to pack a lot into two weeks. The mainstage orchestral concerts begin on opening day with music by Henry Purcell (Suite from The Fairy Queen), Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 6, and Bach’s Orchestra Suite No. 3. Bach’s St. John Passion, Brahms’s German Requiem, and a concert of Bach cantatas are also scheduled, while Nicholas McGegan conducts Haydn’s Symphony 103 and Schubert’s Eighth, and concertmaster Peter Hanson leads a program of double concertos.

But there are lots of gems that are not on the mainstage. Andrew Megill leads the Festival Chorale in a wide-ranging concert at Mission Dolores Basilica (July 20, 27); Stephen Schulz (flute), Gonzalo Ruiz (oboe), and Ezra Setzer (cello and harpsichord) play trio sonatas by Bach and G.C.F. Telemann (July 21 and 28, at All Saints Episcopal Church); and the duo Fire and Grace (violinist Edwin Huizinga and guitarist William Coulter) return with a concert they’re calling “Pangaea: One World,” which incorporates music from various folk traditions (July 22, 29, Sunset Theater.) There are also showcase performances for the young artists in the festival’s training programs, and of course, the Carmel beach.

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Music@Menlo | July 14 – Aug. 6

Music@Menlo is returning for its 20th season with a full lineup of live-and-streamed programs, presenting over 50 events at Music@Menlo’s three main venues. Programming once again is big, ambitious, attractive, and the festival continues to provide exemplary support to the next generation of musicians.

Codirectors Wu Han and David Finckel have programmed a season around Joseph Haydn's life, music, and legacy, but many other composers from the 18th through the 21st centuries are also featured in eight mainstage concerts, three artist-curated Carte Blanche events, Café Conversations, masterclasses, and the Chamber Music Institute.

Returning artists include pianists Michael Brown, Gilbert Kalish, and Hyeyeon Park; violinists Aaron Boyd, Ivan Chan, Bella Hristova, and Kristin Lee; violists Matthew Lipman and Paul Neubauer; cellists Dmitri Atapine, Nicholas Canellakis, and Estelle Choi; bassist Scott Pingel; the Calidore String Quartet, the Orion String Quartet; oboists James Austin Smith and Stephen Taylor; clarinetists Romie de Guise-Langlois and Tommaso Lonquich; horn players Mark Almond and Kevin Rivard.
—Janos Gereben

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Festival Napa Valley | July 1524

The 10-day Festival Napa Valley was one of the first “lifestyle festivals” incorporating not just music, but daily patron dinners and luncheons at the wineries around Napa. If you’re not going to be hobnobbing with the rich and famous, you can still come for the day to enjoy the annual opera production (Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, July 22), or “A Night at the Ballet” (July 21), featuring principal dancers from New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and more.

The Festival Orchestra Napa, under Carlo Ponti, leads off with movements from Daniel Brewbaker’s cello concerto La Serenissima (with soloist Sophia Bacelar) and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” (July 15) It winds up with Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and Brewbaker’s Blue Fire (July 24). Joshua Bell returns with soprano Larisa Martinez and the orchestra, in a program of opera and orchestral classics (July 23).

Before the festival proper begins, you can get tickets to see concerts from the young artists being trained in a multiyear partnership between the festival and the Frost School of Music, in Miami. Also don’t miss the Bouchaine Young Artists concerts, this year featuring violinist Amaryn Olmeda (July 18), and early music recorder player Tabea Debus (July 20).

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Valley of the Moon Music Festival | July 16–31


This year, Valley of the Moon Music Festival directors Eric Zivian and Tanya Tomkins present chamber and vocal music inspired by nature and the elements. In a series dubbed “Fantastic Universe: Music of the Natural World,” heaven, earth, and water are woven concert programs featuring selections such as Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin, Brahms’s “Rain” sonata for violin and piano, and Florence Price’s Sunset. Audiences will be treated to music inspired by the magic and beauty of the natural world. New this year is the Music Alfresco series, where audiences will experience music in select beautiful natural settings in Sonoma County. And the popular Blattner Lecture series will feature experts in the fields of music, sustainability, and horticulture to provide insight into this year’s theme and repertory.

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Bear Valley Music Festival | July 22 – Aug. 7

Alexander Mickelthwate

Incoming Music Director Alexander Mickelthwate will preside over the 54-year-old festival, set in an idyllic retreat in the Sierra Nevada. The Festival also has new executive directors in John and Aimee Miles. The concert schedule has yet to be announced, but this is a festival that attracts high-level musicians.

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American Bach Soloists Festival | July 2331

The American Bach Soloists and its music director, Jeffery Thomas, have done as much as anyone to inject new blood into the Bay Area’s thriving early music scene, and usually this festival is your chance to meet the new players who arrive for the ABS Academy. Not this year, in another (and hopefully, one of the last) blows that the pandemic dealt to artistic life.

Nevertheless, there’s a wealth of musical talent on display in this series of SF-based concerts, from longtime collaborator and soprano Mary Wilson, who sings a pair of Handel secular cantatas on the opening concert, to the youthful star-in-the-making violinist YuEun Gemma Kim who solos in Pietro Locatelli’s Concerto in D Major, “The Harmonic Labyrinth” on the second day (July 24, Herbst Theater. Note 4 p.m. start time.)  Having heard great feedback from the 2019 “Bach and Bluegrass” concert, the band is offering “Bach and Jazz” this time around (July 28), your chance to hear “Nimm funf” (Take five) and some Bach-influenced jazz playing.

The big piece on the schedule this year, though, is Handel’s oratorio Belshazzar (July 30), starring Maya Kherani as Nitocris, Sarah Coit as Daniel, and Matthew Hill as Belshazzar. All performances are at the Herbst Theater.

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Festival Mozaic | July 2330

Here’s a festival that had to hold off on its 50th anniversary celebration in 2020. Some of that music will be heard this year. The long-running Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo has been under the directorship of Scott Yoo since 2005. Like other summer festivals, it has invited artists from different parts of the musical map — singer-songwriter Bella White (July 24), jazz bassist Christian McBride (also July 24) — but the heart of the festival is chamber music. From opening night, with Yoo and the Festival Mozaic Orchestra accompanying artist-in-residence Abigail Kralik in Baroque violin concertos at the intimate Serra Chapel, the musicians are serving up generous helpings of Mozart and other classics. The big July 30 finale, with a Michael Fine composition in honor of the Festival’s 50th, Helene Grimaud playing Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto, and Yoo conducting Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3 in Miossi Hall at the Performing Arts Center is the glaring, but welcome, exception. If you’re there, don’t miss the concert in the beautiful San Luis Obispo Mission de Tolosa, which features Mozart’s Quintet in G Minor, K. 516, Vincent D’Indy’s Sextet in B-flat Major, Op. 92, and Antonin Dvorak’s gorgeous Serenade in D Minor, Op. 44.

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West Edge Festival | July 23 – Aug. 7

WEO - "Ariane and Bluebeard"

West Edge Opera’s summer festival is a movable feast, and this year the fearless company takes up residence in Oakland’s Scottish Rite Center on the shores of Lake Merritt for three productions. West Edge has presented over 90 complete operas by more than 50 different composers. Repertory 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 several new operas, new translations, and adaptations of classic works.

This summer’s offerings continue the tradition, with Handel’s Julius Caesar (July 23, 31, and Aug. 4), Paul Dukas’s Ariane and Bluebeard (July 24, 29, and Aug. 5), and Mark Anthony Turnage’s Coraline, based on the Neil Gaiman children’s tale (July 30, Aug 5, and 7).

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Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music | July 24 – Aug. 7

A lot of classical organizations have chosen to pull in their horns (figuratively) and offer beloved warhorses to lure audiences back to the concert hall. Here’s a festival that can’t really do that. A lot of the programming for its 60th anniversary season is first live performances of music that was commissioned and given, perhaps, a virtual premiere over the past two summers. This includes Stacy Garrop’s Battle for the Ballot, appearing on the second of the four main concerts spread over two weekends, and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Contested Eden.

Garrop’s work, commemorating the struggle of suffragists, is paired with Paola Prestini’s piano concerto Let Me See the Sun, with soloist Lara Downes, which also celebrates the passage of the 19th amendment, and Jessie Montgomery’s Soul Force, title taken from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Meanwhile, Frank’s work, on the first night of the festival, connects with another commissioned work about the effects of climate change in California: Scott Ordway’s The End of Rain. The 40-minute multimedia work written for the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, accompanied by documentary photography by Ordway, was based on 200 interviews with people who shared stories of wildfire and drought.

Other strands of the festival include Jake Heggie’s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope, Sara Kirkland Snider’s Hiraeth. Andrea Reinkemeyer’s Water Sings Fire, a new concerto from Kevin Puts, and a tribute to Christopher Rouse, with a performance of his Symphony No. 6.

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Classical Tahoe | July 14 – Aug. 18

A lovely, if touristy, locale in the Sierra Nevada has always been a mecca for orchestral musicians taking a working vacation. Classical Tahoe may have lost its founder and longtime music director, Joel Revzen, but instrumentalists from America’s leading orchestras are still flocking to the place. The Brubeck Jazz Summit, July 14-15 starts things off before the concertizing gets into full swing. That season opens, appropriately with a Jake Heggie memorial work for Revzen and Tessa Lark playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Of special interest is mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard’s concert of opera excerpts (July 29), Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos with Dongsok Shin at the harpsichord, and Ken-David Masur leading Aldo Lopez Gavrilan’s concerto Emporium, with the composer at the piano (Aug. 5). There’s a free community concert with the Classical Tahoe Academy Fellows on August 3. And don’t miss the delightful chamber concerts at Ashley’s Oasis.

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La Jolla SummerFest | July 29 – Aug. 26

The La Jolla Music Society returns to the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center with SummerFest, and internationally acclaimed pianist Inon Barnatan is again at the helm as music director. The overarching theme in 2022 is “Under the Influence,” exploring the inspiration — not always healthy, in fact often obsessive — that got some of the greatest composers writing. A record number of concerts this year (21!) will add to the feeling of immersion. And that’s not counting the dozens of free education and community events. Check out the busy lineup via the festival’s brochure.

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Ventura Music Festival | July 29–31, Aug. 5–7

Moanin' Frogs

Now in its 27th season, the Ventura Music Festival hosts seven concerts this summer. Adsaawe, “the international women of the drum and voice” launch the series with a free concert in the park (July 27). The virtuosic Galway/Nashville mashup ensemble We Banjo 3 explore the intersections of bluegrass and Celtic music (July 29). The Moanin’ Frogs saxophone sextet takes chamber music up a notch with their fearless reed extrapolations (Aug. 5), and award-winning chamber choir The Crossing wraps the festivities with a matinee concert (Aug. 7). 

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Music in the Vineyards | Aug. 3–21

A return to normal for Music in the Vineyards (MITV) doesn’t just mean more of the same. The Napa Valley chamber festival writes that “the turbulent 2020s have affected us all and have influenced how we program.” This means concerts in 2022 will look to composers outside the classical canon, from unearthed older works to world premieres. What is staying the same? MITV continues to host the best of chamber ensembles — this year the Pacifica, Maxwell, Escher, and Telegraph Quartets. Of course, the signature winery setting isn’t changing, either.

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San Francisco International Piano Festival | Aug. 18–28

The San Francisco International Piano Festival is celebrating multiple anniversaries in 2022. The festival itself is entering its fifth year, but that’s not all, says Artistic Director Jeffrey LaDeur. “The San Francisco International Piano Festival celebrates the 300th anniversary of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (1722) and its profound, pervasive influence as a cornerstone of musical achievement,” he said, explaining how a new piece also ties into the project. “The festival is lead commissioner of composer Kurt Erickson’s 17 Minutes and 22 Seconds consortium. The new solo piano work merges the world of Bach with Chick Corea, allowing the performer latitude for improvisation.” Some other highlights: the West Coast debut of Czech pianist Jan Bartoš, the Festival debut of Rachel Breen, and the Telegraph Quartet and LaDeur playing the Shostakovich Piano Quintet.

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Flower Piano | Sept. 1620

Flower Piano

The little experiment between Sunset Piano and San Francisco Botanical Garden is quickly becoming a mini-institution. The basic idea, setting pianos in the botanical gardens, is nice enough. Inviting people to play them and listen to the music made it into a five-day rejuvenation in the heart of the city. The schedule of featured (invited) pianists and events is not out yet. But it's worth putting a note in your calendar not to miss it

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Monterey Jazz Festival | Sept. 23–25

This is one of the nation’s great jazz weekends, and it’s back to a full festival this year after a scaled-down schedule in 2021. One pandemic development has caught on, though. Performances are staying all outdoors, made possible by a reconfigured space, the West End Stage, where smaller acts are set to play. The big names taking the Arena stage include vocalists Gregory Porter and Kurt Elling; the quartet of Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade; and many more. Three-day tickets, as well as single-day passes, are already on sale.

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