Summer Fests: In East, Bard Turns Spotlight On Nadia Boulanger Legacy


PREVIEW – Few figures have exerted greater influence on the classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries than conductor and composer Nadia Boulanger, one of the greatest pedagogues in music history. Just consider some of the famous American composers who studied with her: Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Douglas Moore, Quincy Jones and Thea Musgrave. Among festivals listed below, the 31st Bard Music Festival, titled Nadia Boulanger and her World, explores the French musical milieu that shaped her and her legacy. The offering Aug. 6-15 will feature 12 themed programs, and it has the potential to be one of the most important events of the summer season. Here is a look at that festival and six others taking place in the East this summer:

Bard Examines Nadia Boulanger and Her World
Nadia Boulanger is to be explored through her music and her legacy, at Bard Music Festival. (Edmond Joaillier photo, 1926)

July 8-Aug. 15: Full details.
Bard SummerScape, at New York’s Annandale-on-Hudson, delivers a sweeping series of summer events that includes opera, dance, theater, cabaret, and film. It culminates with the Bard Music Festival and its Boulanger focus. The 20th-century musical giant will be featured in of her own music and also in works by composers she championed such as Monteverdi, Bach, and Brahms, and in the music of her peers and students ranging from her sister Lili to Francis Poulenc, Astor Piazzolla, and Walter Piston. Programs of note include L’Esprit de Paris on Aug. 12, a mix of George Gershwin, Marguerite Monnot, and Eric Satie, and Boulanger’s Legacy: Modernities on Aug. 15, with music of Marc Blitzstein, Elliott Carter, and Thea Musgrave. Sample Boulanger’s music here:

Another highlight: The first fully staged American presentation of Ernest Chausson’s King Arthur, with stage director Louisa Proske, the designated associate artistic director and resident director of Germany’s Halle Opera. Baritone Norman Garrett takes the title role. July 25-Aug. 1.

Glimmerglass Opera Moves the Action Outside

July 15-Aug. 17: Full details.
The Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y., normally performs in an acoustically accommodating 915-seat theater, but it is moving all of its productions to an outdoor stage because of pandemic concerns. The company will present 90-minute “re-imagined” performances of opera and musical theater.

Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a reimagined role as Sarastro in a story-telling ‘Magic Flute,’ and he’ll sing various Wagner roles also.

Acclaimed bass-baritone and Glimmerglass artistic adviser Eric Owens has a high profile, performing the enlarged role of Sarastro in what is described as a “storytelling” version of The Magic Flute (July 15-Aug. 17). Owens is also one of three singers in a program called Gods and Mortals (Aug. 3-16), which features selections from Richard Wagner’s famous and not-so-famous operas. The presentation is directed by the festival’s artistic director and general director, Francesca Zambello.

Other highlights: July 30-Aug. 13, Songbird, a new adaptation of Offenbach’s La Périchole by co-stage director Eric Sean Fogel, conductor James Lowe, and translator Kelly Rourke; Aug. 1-14, Verdi’s Il trovatore; and Aug. 5-13, The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson (world premiere), with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role. The new play by Sandra Seaton with music by Carlos Simon celebrates the founding of the groundbreaking National Negro Opera Company in 1941.

Two Experiential, Site-Specific Works Highlight Caramoor
At Caramoor, members of The Crossing will space themselves, and audiences will find them along an outdoor route.

June 19-Aug. 8: Full details.
The Caramoor summer festival will keep experiences outdoors on an 80-acre estate in Katonah, N.Y., in northern Westchester County. In Donald Nally and Kevin Vondrak’s The Forest (July 3), members of the choral group The Crossing are spaced at 30-foot intervals, and audiences take in the work by following a specified route. Alarm Will Sound plans a customized performance of John Luther Adams’ 70-minute composition Ten Thousand Birds (July 11), which incorporates bird calls heard across the Caramoor grounds and can be experienced from multiple locations.

Other highlights: June 24, PUBLIQuartet in a program entitled What is American?, includes a “reconception” of Dvořák’s American String Quartet; June 27, Valerie Coleman’s Fanfare for Uncommon Times (world premiere), Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conductor Tito Muñoz; and July 1, Saad Haddad String Quartet No. 2, for the Callisto Quartet, a world premiere. (Haddad’s music often transfers performance techniques of traditional Arab instruments to Western symphonic instruments.) On July 10, a celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 91st birthday is planned. July 16, the 20th-century Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz will be remembered in her Quintet for Piano and Strings No. 1, with the Verona Quartet and pianist David Fung. And On July 30, Nico Muhly’s Shrink receives its New York premiere by The Knights and violinist Pekka Kuusisto.

Mutter Debuts John Williams’ Violin Concerto No. 2 at Tanglewood
A rich, if shortened season, will resound across the vast lawns of Tanglewood this summer. (Hilary Scott)

July 9-Aug. 15: Full details.
In this shortened season, the Tanglewood Music Festival presents about 50 percent of its usual offerings. The celebrated festival in Lenox, Mass., is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which presents six weeks of concerts led by music director Andris Nelsons, Boston Pops music director Keith Lockhart, artistic adviser Thomas Adès, and guest conductors. The orchestra opens its lineup July 10 with a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the same work that began the opening concert of Tanglewood’s first season in 1937. Another highlight is the July 24 world premiere of John Williams’ Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Anne Sophie Mutter and Williams as conductor. Adès leads the 2021 Festival of Contemporary Music on July 25 and 26. It will include the American premiere of Andrew Haig’s Replacing and the world premiere of Xinyang Wang’s Between the Resonating Abysses. Xinyang takes inspiration from traditional Chinese arts as well as Western concert music.

Other highlights: July 9, Selection from Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite for piano and orchestra, The Knights; Aug. 1, Wilhelm Stenhammar’s Serenade (1911, revised 1919), Boston Symphony, conductor Alan Gilbert, and Aug. 14, Elena Langer’s Suite from Figaro Gets a Divorce, Boston Symphony, conductor Anna Rakitina.

2021 Marlboro Festival Concerts Already Sold Out

July 17-Aug. 15: Full details.
Pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss, artistic directors of this venerable musical oasis in Vermont, welcome 75 resident artists this summer to perform and mentor the field’s future stars. New senior artists this year include pianist Shai Wosner and cellist Marie Bitlloch of the Elias Quartet. Only 175 seats in the festival’s 625-seat concert hall are available for each concert to keep audiences and performers safe, and all of the summer concerts are already sold out. As in past years, programs are put together as the festival progresses, with repertoire emerging from rehearsals and teaching sessions.

Opera Saratoga Presents a Don Quixote-Inspired Lineup
Opera Saratoga, pursuing a theme of optimism, plans Telemann’s ‘Don Quixote at Camacho’s Wedding.’ (Concept art)

June 24-July 18: Full details.
Opera Saratoga, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., marks its 60th anniversary with a season inspired by a fictional hero. “As we considered how to best return to the stage this summer, I found myself repeatedly drawn to works inspired by Don Quixote,” said Lawrence Edelson, the company’s artistic and general director. “I think we’ve all needed to channel some of the famous knight-errant’s idealism and extreme optimism and to dream impossible dreams in the face of unprecedented challenges.” Among the three outdoor offerings – two staged productions and a concert – will be Georg Philipp Telemann’s Don Quixote at Camacho’s Wedding (July 14-18), featuring performers from Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program. The one-act comic opera, based on a chapter from Cervantes’ novel, debuted in 1761.

Other highlights: June 24 and 25, Quixotic Opera, a selection of scenes from operas inspired by Don Quixote, and July 8-10, Mitch Leigh’s musical Man of La Mancha (book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion) with Zachary James in the title role.

Philadelphia Orchestra Returns for a Four-Day Residency
Yannick Nézet-Séguin plans for Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer involve seven new works, four by women. (Jan Regan)

Aug. 11-14: Full details.
Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin brings the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for a four-day residency. As part of the center’s commitment to broadening the diversity of its programming, the orchestra’s lineup will include seven works new to the Saratoga stage, including four by women: Valerie Coleman, Louise Farrenc, Florence Price, and Philadelphia Orchestra composer-in-residence Gabriela Lena Frank. Frank is American born, with a father of Lithuanian Jewish heritage and a Peruvian mother of Chinese descent. Her music often explores this multicultural heritage, and her new piece, Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, is described as mixing elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions. She has written that it is inspired by the mestizaje, which holds that cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other. Its premiere is Aug. 13.

Wolf Trap Opera Presents Joseph Bologne’s Only Surviving Opera

June 18-July 31: Full details.
The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, in Vienna, Va., has released its summer lineup for June and July, with additional concerts to be announced later. To mark the 50th anniversary of its first performances at the Filene Center, it will present Fifty Years Together: A Celebration of Wolf Trap on July 1. The multi-genre entertainment will feature conductor JoAnn Falletta leading the National Symphony Orchestra as well as Broadway star Cynthia Erivo, dramatic soprano Christine Goerke, and Korean-born pianist Joyce Yang. An early highlight of the 50th-anniversary season will be Wolf Trap Opera’s June 18 concert version of The Anonymous Lover, the lone surviving opera of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799). The mixed-race composer, who has gained increasing attention in recent years, was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe and is the first known classical composer of African ancestry. The performance will feature conductor Geoffrey McDonald and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Other highlights: June 24, Jessie Montgomery’s Caught by the Wind, National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, conductor Marin Alsop, in a concert for invited guests in the community healthcare and education community; July 2 and 3, Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, conductor Roberto Kalb; July 8 and 9, Bologne’s Violin Concerto in A major, National Symphony Orchestra, Italy-born, London-based violinist Francesca Dego, and conductor Jonathon Heyward; July 16, concert versions of Pauline Viardot’s chamber opera with dialogue Cendrillon and Gustav Holst’s one-act chamber opera Savitri from an episode in the Mahābhārata.