As summer approaches (very slowly, through all these grey clouds), an air of excitement surrounds the world of classical music: the festival season is here! Whether at home in the UK or elsewhere in Europe and beyond, there is so much choice for great classical music this summer. In Olympic spirit, London is celebrating itself at the ‘City of London Festival’ from the 24th June to the 27th July, featuring the LSO and acclaimed guitarist John Williams. Also gloriously British, is the ‘Longborough Festival Opera’, which features the famous ‘Sweeney Todd’ performed by the festival’s Young Artist Production; the festival is on now, until the 29th of July.
Whilst Glastonbury’s usual Rock and Roll tenants take a break this year, the ‘Orchestra in a Field’ at Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, takes place this weekend (30th June to 1st July) providing ‘Tchaikovsky to Tubular Bells by way of Opera, Hip Hop and hand bells’ (Classical-music.com) as well as free tickets to those under the age of 13, a great, fun event to introduce children to classical music. Another great event this weekend takes place at the prestigious ‘Wigmore Hall’: you can hear and see the Leipzig String Quartet as well as soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, providing exciting music from Brahms to Beethoven.
Finishing this week is the renowned ‘Istanbul Music Festival’, which has been running for the entire month of June. In its 40th year, it has featured (a staggering) over 750 artists this year, including the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and the Chamber Orchestra Vienna-Berlin. It has also commissioned works by the revered composers Giya Kancheli and Fazil Say, which were premiered at the festival.
Even further east is the ‘IV Gabala International Festival‘ of Azerbaijan, taking place from the 25th of July to the 5th of August, featuring traditional Chamber music, as well as Mugham – the folk compositions of Azerbaijan, which are now a UNESCO protected cultural heritage.
More centrally in Europe, Austria is hosting some of the world’s finest classical music festivals. The month-long, extraordinary ‘Bregenzer Festspiele‘ (18th July to the 18th August), in its breathtaking lake-side location features Opera on the Lake (with its stunning staging), an array of Chamber music, Theatre, and Music and Poetry: a highlight of which is Shostakovich’s ‘Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets for mixed chorus op.88’. The renowned ‘Salzburger Festspiele‘ is one of THE summer events, from the 20th July to the 2nd September, featuring music and operas, from ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’, to ‘La Boheme’; Whilst August welcomes the ‘Innsbrucker Festwochen der alten Musik‘, from the 8th to the 26th, spanning all areas of classical music from Oriental Baroque to Slavonic Dances.
The beautiful landscapes of Italy host the ‘Incontri in Terra di Siena’ in lush Tuscany, where classical music is coupled with contemporary Jazz as well as Olive Oil and Wine tasting (definitely not one to miss!) A highlight is the Borromeo String Quartet playing Bach, Debussy and Schubert on the 22nd of July. The entire festival is from the 20th to the 29th of July.
Whether travelling abroad or staying at home in this important 2012 summer, there are numerous great festivals not be missed, an abundance of which can be found on our ‘July Unmissables’ pinterest page here.
The Famous Staging at Bregenzer Festspiele