Classical music festivals are making a comeback this season

David and Phillip Ying, cello and viola, are co-artistic directors of the Bowdoin International Music Festival and members of the Ying Quartet. Photo by Tim Greenway

Classical music, both works by master composers and more contemporary artists, will be abundant this summer in Maine.

the Bowdoin International Music Festival will present dozens of performances, including many free shows, throughout the month of July and until the beginning of August.

The festival subscription series includes 20 concerts at the Studzinski Recital Hall on the Bowdoin campus or the Crooker Theater at Brunswick High School. The series will kick off on July 27 with a performance by the Ying Quartet, led by festival co-artistic directors Phillip and David Ying. Additional performances by the Jupiter String Quartet, the Ariel Quartet and many other professional musicians are also planned.

Free shows include nearly two dozen from the Young Artist Series, performed by festival students from around the world at Studzinski Hall, and 12 community concerts at venues from Falmouth to Boothbay Harbor.

The full program is available online at bowdoinfestival.org.

Pianist Henry Kramer will perform at the Portland Chamber Music Festival. Photo by Grittani Creative

Another well-known festival – the Portland Chamber Music Festival – includes four core programs in August at Hannaford Hall on the University of Southern Maine campus. Performances will feature the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, the festival’s first-ever ensemble-in-residence, joined by pianist Henry Kramer and several other world-class musicians playing works by Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and many more.

The festival will also host its annual benefit show on August 7 at Cove Street Arts and host the “Time for Three” trio (Nick Kendall, Charles Yang, violins/vocals; Ranaan Meyer, bass/vocals) on August 19 at Un Carré Longfellow .

The full schedule and a description of each show is available online at pcmf.org.

Music Director Eckart Preu conducts the Portland Symphony Orchestra at the Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach. Photo courtesy of Portland Symphony Orchestra

the Portland Symphony Orchestra will be moving outdoors for three shows in late June and July at the Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach. The June 25 show will feature Beethoven’s Concerto in D major for violin and orchestra and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor. On July 2, Maine folk band Schooner Fare will perform selections from its catalog with the orchestra, and on July 9, the orchestra will perform “The Music of Star Wars.”

For the seventh year (the event was canceled in 2020), the Bach Virtuosos Festival, conducted by Lewis Kaplan, will bring the baroque music of composer Johann Sebastian Bach to Portland for a week in late July and early August. Performances will take place at St. Luke’s Cathedral, Etz Chaim Synagogue and the Great Hall of the Portland Museum of Art. Kaplan co-founded the Bowdoin music festival and served as its artistic director for half a century. The full program is online at bachvirtuosifestival.org.

Another Bach-themed festival, the Portland Bach Experience, has several shows scheduled for the first half of June, including many free concerts. Founder Emily Isaacson first launched the festival in 2017 to challenge preconceptions about classical music. This year, there will be 17 events from May 31 to June 12 in communities from Kennebunk to Brunswick. The schedule is available online at portlandbachexperience.com.

Finally, the Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival will perform on Tuesdays between July 12 and August 12. 9 at the Deertrees Theater in Harrison. The festival’s 50th anniversary will feature a variety of 25 musicians, including violinist Jennifer Elowitch, founder of the Portland Chamber Music Festival.


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