Guide to summer classical music festivals on the North Coast
The summer classical music season is coming in hot, with festival ensembles tuning up everywhere, from the wineries of Napa and Sonoma to the coastal hamlets of Mendocino and Cazadero.
There’s something for everyone this summer, including opera and chamber music fans — you know who you are — plus a smattering of jazz, pop and Americana thrown in for fun and good measure.
Here’s the schedule of classical music festivals opening this month, in addition to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival.
Festival Napa Valley: Now in its 14th year, Festival Napa Valley uncorks July 12 with an Opera Under the Stars program at Meadowood featuring Italian tenor Francesco Demuro, Soprano Joyce El-Khoury and baritone Lucas Meacham performing operatic favorites. Other highlights include the Arts for All Gala July 14 at Hall Napa Valley showcasing British singer-songwriter Seal; the Festival Orchestra Napa performing John William’s score to a screening of “Star Wars; A New Hope” at Lincoln Theater on July 18; and the Festival Orchestra Napa presenting “Song to the Moon: 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Landing,” featuring soprano Adriana Chuchman and works by Holst, Dvorak and more at Lincoln Theater on July 20. The Festival Live! Chamber Series also returns with 12 free concerts at locations throughout the Napa Valley, and for the first time, there will be a Concert for Kids featuring Karen LeFrak’s orchestral work based on the children’s book “Sleepover at the Museum,” at Lincoln Theater on July 15. The festival concludes on July 21 with YouTube sensation and Postmodern Jukebox star Robyn Adele Anderson at Alpha Omega Winery in St. Helena. festivalnapavalley.org
Mendocino Music Festival: Located in various venues in the town of Mendocino, this crossover festival kicks off July 13 with Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet and the Festival Orchestra led by Maestro Allan Pollack featuring pianist Stephen Prutsman. Other highlights include the Calder Quartet on July 16; Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad and Diego Figueriedo on July 18; Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” opera on July 19; Festival Big Band featuring Kim Nalley in a “Tribute to Aretha” on July 20; the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band on July 25; and Sweet Honey in the Rock on July 26. The festival concludes with the Festival Orchestra and Chorus performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on July 27. mendocinomusic.org
Midsummer Mozart Festival: This Bay Area festival returns to Buena Vista Winery on July 14 with an all-Mozart program of opera arias and other works sung by soprano Christina Major. The program will be repeated at 3:30 p.m. July 15 at the Cazadero Music Camp in Cazadero. Admission for July 14 is $65, and admission for July 15 is free. midsummermozart.org
PianoSonoma Music Festival: Now in its sixth year at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall at Sonoma State University, this festival founded by pianists Jessica and Mochael Shinn brings together current conservatory music majors/recent graduates with working musicians to collaborate on a series of Vino & Vibrato concerts on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from July 23 to Aug. 1 as well as public master classes held on July 24 and July 31. New this year, the Tuesday concerts begin with pre-concert “artist exchanges.” All events include a wine tasting beforehand featuring Cartograph wines. Tickets cost $15 for one concert, $12 for two or more concerts. pianoSonoma.org
Santa Rosa Symphony: As part of Summer at the Green, the symphony will present a free community concert featuring Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with local residents’ photos of Sonoma County at 7 p.m. July 28 at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall & Lawn . Sonoma State University. Tickets are required and will be available at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, at srsymphony.org or 707-546-8742. The symphony will also screen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with a live performance of the epic score at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets: $25 to $85. gmc.sonoma.edu.