Bandstands brimming with the performing arts
Whether you like to swing with Basie, hum with Handel or wax poetic with Shakespeare, the pickin’s will be plentiful in summer culture.
Elizabethan buffs will find iambic pentameter as they like it at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, through October. Eugene, Oreg. celebrates its 13th Bach Festival (June 28-July 11), and for those who prefer off-the-wall Bach, Peter (P.D.Q. Bach) Schickele performs (July 17) as composer-in-residence at Portland’s Chamber Music Northwest (June 21-July 25).
Festivals in California are sprouting as fast as crabgrass or, up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, bluegrass. At the Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival, Bill Harrell and the Virginians and the Blue-grass Cardinals headline two weekends (June 18-20 and Sept. 17-19, respectively) of jam sessions, music workshops and clog dancing. About 145 miles west, the San Francisco Summer Festival (May 28-Aug. 22) opens at the Opera House with mezzo-soprano Tatiana Troyanos in the Handel opera Julius Caesar, Leontyne Price appears in recital (June 6); the San Francisco Symphony performs Beethoven (June 19-July 3). Symphony, ballet, jazz, gospel and C&W concerts in the eucalyptus-ringed Stern Grove amphitheater are free on Sundays (June 20-Aug. 22). The L.A. Philharmonic takes up summer residence at the 17,619-seat Hollywood Bowl, where Leonard Bernstein opens the season July 13, conducting his own works. Another Bowl highlight is the Warsaw Philharmonic (July 22-24). San Diego’s National Shakespeare Festival (June 10-Sept. 19) stages The Tempest and The Taming of the Shrew.
Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival (June 25-Aug. 22)—also the summer home of Salt Lake City’s Ballet West—bills Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (July 23), conducted by Robert Shaw. In southwestern Colorado, Willie Nelson headlines the Telluride Bluegrass and Country Music Festival (June 25-27), and Ray Charles closes the Telluride Jazz Festival (Aug. 13-15). Denver’s World Theatre Festival (July 7-31) features the National Theatre of Great Britain, the Australian Aboriginal Theatre Company and acting troupes from Greece, Israel, Yugoslavia and Canada. If your vacation takes in Zion National Park, you can catch the Shakespeare Festival (July 15-Aug. 28) in nearby Cedar City, Utah.
The summer culture capital is scenic Santa Fe, where this year’s opera festival (July 3-Aug. 28) includes Die Fledermaus, The Marriage of Figaro, Mignon and the world premiere of George Rochberg’s The Confidence Man. Santa Fe’s theater festival (June 28-Aug. 29) opens with John O’Keeffe’s Wild Oats, starring Madeline Kahn, who will reappear in the world premiere of the Israeli Shlomo Gronich’s musical Amerika (Aug. 2). To the south, in the Sacramento Mountains, quarter horses give way to quarter notes as Ruidoso, N.Mex., site of the famous racetrack, mounts its Summer Festival (June 4-11), with the Fort Worth Symphony, the Texas Little Symphony Dixieland Band and Pops Night with Roger Williams.
The stars shine bright at Dallas’ Starfest (June 19-Aug. 22), where Lou Rawls, Chuck Berry, the Pointer Sisters, Frankie Valli and Merle Haggard are center stage under the sky. The San Antonio Symphony is the second-night feature at the Round Top Music Festival (June4-July 11), 50 miles northwest of Houston. “Go for Baroque” is the theme of this year’s Kerrville Summer Music Festival (July 23-25) at rustic Quiet Valley Ranch (50 miles north of San Antonio), also the site of the Kerrville Folk Festival (May 27-31, June 4-6) and Bluegrass Festival (Sept. 2-5).
The Chicago Symphony moves to the North Shore for Highland Park’s Ravinia Festival (June 25-Sept. 12), with artists ranging from Alicia de Larrocha and Alfred Brendel to Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald. The Detroit Symphony’s summer home is the Meadow Brook Music Festival (June 24-Aug. 15) in Rochester, Mich., which will feature Victor Borge (July 10), Doc Severinsen (July 31) and Count Basie (Aug. 20). Carmen McRae and other jazz stars will appear at the Montreaux/Detroit International Jazz Festival Sept. 1-7. If you missed Broadway’s Nicholas Nickleby (or were scared off by the $100 price of admission), head for Cleveland, where the eight-and-a-half-hour Charles Dickens epic drama will be staged as either a one-or two-day event from Aug. 26 to Oct. 3 (tickets: $21.50 to $39.50) as part of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival (July 9-Oct. 3) in Playhouse Square. The Cleveland Orchestra’s warm-weather roost is the Blossom Music Center Festival, near Akron, where Eduardo Mata will conduct an all-Stravinsky program July 17.
The Memphis in May International Festival, which has already turned Beale Street into a mecca for blues and jazz greats, concludes May 29 as the Memphis Symphony performs the 1812 Overture, with live cannon accompaniment and fireworks over the Mississippi. At the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. (through June 6), Pinchas Zukerman conducts and solos with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (May 31). Cellist Leonard Rose appears with the Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra at the Eastern Music Festival (June 19-July 31) at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., and in nearby High Point there will be midsummer nights’ revelry at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival (July 8-Aug. 29). Up at the nation’s capital, Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va., threatened with wipeout by an April fire, will mount a season after all, from June 15 through Sept. 10. It opens with a jazz festival, featuring violinist Stephane Grappelli, among others, under an aluminum-and-vinyl covering shipped from Saudi Arabia.
Of course, every street’s a stage in New York City, alive with impromptu lunch-hour festivals. Main events, however, include Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart concerts (July 12-Aug. 28), the Guggenheim Concert Band (formerly the Goldman Band) at the Lincoln Center Bandshell (June 16-Aug. 8) and the New York Philharmonic in the Parks, which opens its series July 27 in Central Park with its traditional pyrotechnic rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and produces more fireworks when Zubin Mehta conducts Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on Aug. 17. Also in Central Park: Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival (Moliére’s Don Juan June 25-July 23, A Midsummer Night’s Dream July 30-Aug. 28) and the Metropolitan Opera, which stages Verdi’s II Trovatore (June 15) and Beethoven’s Fidelio (June 22) as part of its outdoor season.
If you think the height of summer culture is the top of the ninth with bases loaded, consider Beethoven’s Ninth—it’s loaded with basses, not to mention sopranos, altos and tenor James McCracken; Seiji Ozawa swings the baton at the July 9 opening of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood season (to Aug. 29) in Lenox, Mass. Eugene Ormandy and André Previn are summer guest conductors, and Lena Home reprises her one-woman Broadway show July 4.
Perhaps the only drawback to any of these festivals is that they aren’t year-round. As Shakespeare himself noted, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” But given his public exposure in 1982, he really can’t complain.