US Summer Festival Highlights 2023
A compiled list of 2023 summer festival highlights around the United States.
This year’s summer festivals in the US present many notable offerings, including premieres of new works and rarely performed older works, as well as many prominent performances of music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose 150th anniversary is celebrated this year. Read on for programming highlights around the US, organized by presenting organization below.
Aspen Music Festival
Aspen Music Festival’s adventurous programming includes several recent contemporary orchestral favorites, such as Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour and Unsuk Chin’s Frontispiece, as well as rare chamber works like Elliott Carter’s Figments Nos. 1 and 2 and Alberto Ginastera’s Cantata para América mágica for soprano and percussion orchestra. The Brentano String Quartet and cellist Wilhelmina Smith present Steven Mackey’s Joy Rhythm Study, which was co-commissioned by the festival.
Jul 9 Anna Clyne, This Midnight Hour
Jul 12 Unsuk Chin, Frontispiece (Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra)
Jul 19 All–Elliott Carter program, including Figment No. 1 and No. 2 (Darrett Adkins, cello); Enchanted Preludes (Nadine Asin, flute; Darrett Adkins, cello)
Jul 20 Steven Mackey, Joy Rhythm Study (Brentano String Quartet; Wilhelmina Smith, cello)
Aug 1 Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring (Aspen Contemporary Ensemble)
Aug 3 Jacob Druckman, Reflections on the Nature of Water; Alberto Ginastera, Cantata para América mágica (Percussion Ensemble)
Bravo! Vail draws starry soloists and top tier orchestras this summer, including pianists Bruce Liu and Yuncham Lim who are each performing Rachmaninoff piano concertos. A new Anna Clyne orchestral piece This Moment receives its world premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra on July 14, and Steve Reich’s iconic Drumming - Part I is performed by Sandbox Percussion.
Jul 11 Paquito D’Rivera, Preludio y Merengue (Dalí Quartet; Ricardo Morales, clarinet)
Jul 13 Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2 (The Philadelphia Orchestra; Bruce Liu, piano); Symphonic Dances
Jul 14 Anna Clyne, This Moment (World Premiere, The Philadelphia Orchestra)
Jul 26 Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3 (New York Philharmonic; Yunchan Lim, piano; Marin Alsop)
Aug 1 Steve Reich, Drumming - Part I (Sandbox Percussion)
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
Santa Cruz, California
Cabrillo’s annual celebration of contemporary orchestral music opens with Sebastian Currier’s Track 8, described by Currier as a “Beethoven remix” that takes inspiration from Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. Gabriela Ortiz’s recent work Tzam (premiered by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra last year) is paired with Olga Neuwirth’s Dreydl(premiered by Orchestre National de Lyon last year). Anna Clyne’s ambitious Wild Geese, which samples and manipulates an orchestra’s performance in real time, receives its world premiere at the festival grand finale concert.
Aug 4 Sebastian Currier, Track 8
Aug 12 Gabriela Ortiz, Tzam; Olga Neuwirth, Dreydl (US Premiere)
Aug 13 Anna Clyne, Wild Geese (World Premiere)
Colorado Music Festival
Colorado Music Festival celebrates Rachmaninoff’s legacy in America with three concerts, featuring his Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Symphony No. 3, and Symphonic Dances. The Brentano String Quartet performs two MacMillan string quartets, both memorial works: his brief and delicate Memento and the miniature For Sonny, composed in honor of a friend’s grandson.
Jul 2 Eric Whitacre, Goodnight Moon (Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson, soprano)
Jul 6-7 Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3 (Nicolai Lugansky, piano); Symphony No. 3
Jul 9 Sergei Rachmaninoff, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Piano Concerto No. 4 (Nicolai Lugansky, piano); Symphonic Dances
Jul 18 James MacMillan, Memento; For Sonny (Brentano String Quartet)
Jul 25 Benjamin Britten, Phantasy Quartet
Katonah, New York
Renowned string quartet Brooklyn Rider performed Golijov’s beautiful and mournful piece Tenebrae as part of its “Four Elements” program.
Jun 23 Osvaldo Golijov, Tenebrae (Brooklyn Rider)
Cincinnati May Festival
The world premiere of James MacMillan’s Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia opens the 150th Cincinnati May Festival. The new choral work is a setting of John Dryden poetry, and demonstrates the power of music through a series of allegories.
May 19 James MacMillan, Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia (World Premiere)
Cooperstown, New York
Glimmerglass presents Francesca Zambello’s spectacular production of Bernstein’s iconic American musical, Candide.
Jul 8-Aug 20 Leonard Bernstein, Candide (Francesca Zambello, director)
Grant Park Music Festival
Grant Park’s summer programming spotlights several festival favorites, including Copland’s Old American Songs and Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, alongside more recent contemporary works like Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour and Unsuk Chin’s subito con forza.
Jun 26-27 Aaron Copland, Old American Songs (Grant Park Chorus)
Jun 28 Leonard Bernstein, Overture to Candide
Jul 5 Aaron Copland, Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring; Leonard Bernstein, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Jul 14-15 Anna Clyne, This Midnight Hour
Aug 2 Unsuk Chin, subito con forza
Aug 4-5 Aaron Copland, Quiet City
Aug 18-19 Sergei Rachmaninoff, Symphonic Dances
La Jolla Music Society
La Jolla, California
Composer and clarinetist Mark Simpson performs on multiple chamber music concerts during La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest. He performs the US premiere of his own piece Love(escape) with pianist and festival music director Inon Barnaton, as well as features as soloist in Osvaldo Golijov’s The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind.
Aug 4 Osvaldo Goijov, The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (Mark Simpson, clarinet; Alexi Kenney, Tessa Lark, violins; Maiya Papach, viola; Coleman Itzkoff, cello)
Aug 6 Mark Simpson, Lov(escape) (US Premiere; Mark Simpson, clarinet; Inon Barnatan, piano)
Opera Theatre of St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
Carlisle Floyd’s centennial is celebrated in June 2026. This summer his acclaimed opera Susannah is presented by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, directed by acclaimed soprano Patricia Racette and conducted by Gemma New.
Jun 10-24 Carlisle Floyd, Susannah (Patricia Racette, director)
Highland Park, Illinois
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs Gabriela Ortiz’s Antrópolis, a bright concert opener that pays tribute to the emblematic dance halls of Mexico City.
Jul 21 Gabriela Ortiz, Antrópolis
Jul 28 Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 3
Aug 5 Sergei Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3 (Yunchan Lim, piano)
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Magnus Lindberg performs piano in his new work for piano and winds, commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Aug 9 Magnus Lindberg, New Work for Piano and Winds (World Premiere; Magnus Lindberg, piano)
Tanglewood presents Golijov's 2021 string quartet Um Dia Bom (A Good Day), a piece in five movements that depicts “a life from morning to midnight and beyond, but as if told to children.” Golijov's Lúa Descolorida, a setting of poetry by Rosalía de Castro, is performed on a vocal recital later that same day.
Jul 9 Osvaldo Golijov, Um Dia Bom (TMC Chamber Music)
Jul 9 Osvaldo Golijov, Lúa Descolorida (TMC Vocal Music)
Guitar superstar JIJI performs Steve Reich’s iconic looping work Electric Counterpoint at Tippet Rise.
Sep 10 Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint (JIJI, guitar)
Utah Festival Opera
Utah Festival Opera presents Rorem’s Our Town, based on Thornton Wilder iconic play about small town America. Rorem, who passed away late last year, would have turned 100 this fall.
Jul 12-Aug 3 Ned Rorem, Our Town
Yellow Barn’s adventurous summer programming includes an evening of Ana Sokolovic’s solo and ensemble works; the US premiere of Brett Dean’s I Starred Last Night, I Shone, performed by mezzo-soprano Rebecca Printz and pianist Gilbert Kalish; as well as performances of rare works by Isang Yun, Pavel Haas, and Alfred Schnittke.
Jun 19 Solo and ensemble works by Ana Sokolovic (Young Artists Program musicians)
Jul 7 Brett Dean, I Starred Last Night, I Shone (US Premiere); Claude Vivier, Pièce pour violoncelle et piano
Jul 8 Alfred Schnittke, Serenade
Jul 15 Pavel Haas, Vyvolena, Op. 8
Jul 20 Isang Yun, Gagok for soprano and harp
Jul 21 Elliott Carter, Epigrams
Aug 2 Béla Bartók, String Quartet No. 5, Sz.102
Aug 3 Benjamin Britten, Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente
Aug 5 Ana Sokolovic, dawn always begins in the bones
Aug 5 Brett Dean, Imaginary Ballet
Photo: Bravo! Vail by Tomas Cohen Photography