Updated July 15, 2021.
Though virtual offerings have been a sustaining force for music lovers over the past year, there’s something about enjoying a symphony in the fresh mountain air that screens can’t replace. Luckily, more and more beloved Carolina festivals have announced plans to safely return to in-person performances as summertime approaches. With countless opportunities to hear live classical music just a day trip away from Charlotte, where will this summer take you?
Spoleto Festival USA | May 27 – June 13
Location: Charleston, SC | spoletousa.org
There’s a reason Spoleto Festival USA is recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival. For 17 densely packed days, Charleston, SC explodes with music, theatre, and dance from a vast variety of genres and styles. As Spoleto embraces a hybrid approach, parts of this year’s festival remain virtual, while many in-person performances will be held in outdoor venues. Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration and intimate chamber concerts are among the season’s classical music offerings.
Eastern Music Festival | June 26 – July 31
Location: Greensboro, NC | easternmusicfestival.org
Greensboro’s Eastern Music Festival (EMF), a nationally recognized classical music festival and summer educational program, celebrates its 60th season this year with a return to in-person concerts. At EMF, accomplished faculty and renowned visiting artists guide 265+ student musicians each summer as they work toward careers in classical music. Though the festival’s calendar of events and student count have been reduced this season to maintain safety, classical music lovers can choose from over 35 exciting concerts, including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Eastern Festival Orchestra performances each Saturday evening.
An Appalachian Summer Festival | July 2 – 31
Now in its 37th season, Boone’s An Appalachian Summer Festival brings the best of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and film to the Appalachian State University campus every summer. This year, the festival will present a mixture of virtual and in-person, COVID-compliant programming, with live programs rotating between two outdoor venues. Attendees can look forward to a stacked lineup of events for all tastes, including evenings with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, the Tesla Quartet, Alan Cumming & Ari Shapiro, and more.
Brevard Music Center Summer Festival | July 9 – August 8
Location: Brevard, NC | brevardmusic.org
Nestled in the heart of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Brevard Music Center (BMC) is one of the nation’s premier summer training programs for young musicians. Students perform alongside distinguished faculty and guest artists in dozens of concerts throughout the summer. This season, Beethoven takes center stage as the festival presents a celebration of the composer’s 251st birthday, and concertgoers will experience the inaugural season of the newly built Parker Concert Hall. Other standout events include Hollywood Under the Stars featuring the Music of John Williams, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and featured performances from violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and pianist Lara Downes.
Charlotte New Music | Events July 17, July 21 – 31
Location: Charlotte, NC (plus virtual performances) | charlottenewmusic.org
Charlotte New Music (CNM), the leading new music organization and contemporary music festival in the Southeastern United States, has an exciting lineup of summer fun planned for Charlotteans and music lovers around the globe! At CNM’s upcoming in-person Stargazer Music Fest (July 17, 8 PM – midnight), concertgoers will be treated to a serene evening of original music and night-sky viewing. Read more about the Stargazer Music Fest and find tickets here. Next, after a tremendous virtual season in 2020, the Charlotte New Music Festival returns July 21 – 31 with a full calendar of innovative virtual concerts. Visit the Charlotte New Music website to learn more.
Is your summer festival missing from this list? Contact Mary Lathem at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an addition.
More Summertime Fun
SummerStages on WDAV | July 3 – August 7
Each summer, with blankets and picnic baskets in hand, millions of Americans enjoy classical music in the casual setting of music festivals. SummerStages takes its listeners on the road each week to summer music venues across the southeast. Listen Saturdays at 6 p.m. on WDAV starting July 3.