7 Can’t-Miss Sights and Activities at the Charlotte SHOUT! Festival

Guest Article: Charlotte SHOUT!
by Rick Thurmond

On now through April 14 in Uptown Charlotte, Charlotte SHOUT! is the region’s largest arts festival. There’s so much to see and do that it’s hard to know where to start – so, we made this handy guide just for WDAV listeners!

First Ward Park (Zone 1)

This area is home to the Ally Main Stage and several interactive art installations. It is in close proximity to the stage at the amazing art-filled Victoria Yards, the Market at 7th Street food hall, and ImaginOn. You could spend the entire day here and still want to come back for more.

The SHOUT Lounge and Hub at 200 S. College St. (Zones 2 & 3)

The SHOUT! Lounge is your one-stop shop for information and—bonus!—you can take a gander at some incredible artwork by CMS students. The Lounge is also the gateway to the new Charlotte SHOUT! Hub, located in Overstreet Mall directly above. There, you’ll find pop-up art galleries, works by some seriously talented local fashion designers, and opportunities for hands-on artistic expression. You’ll also be steps away from the Spray Jam at Luminous Lane, where dozens of local artists are transforming blank building facades with their unique art styles.

Levine Avenue and The Green (Zone 5)

Best enjoyed late afternoon into the evening, do not miss Sonic Runway, 350 feet of lit-up soundwaves that you can walk through. Street performers will wander through regularly with interactive and entertaining presentations. And if you’re in the mood for an egg hunt, 13 larger-than-life eggs designed by local artists decorate The Green, a pocket park across the street.

Nightingale and the Tower, feat. Sonic Butterfly

Sonic Butterfly, a harp with 60-foot strings, stretches over crowds, immersing them in a musical tale about hope in a dystopian future. See this electro-acoustic chamber opera by Rebecca Comerford at First Ward Park Friday, April 5 at 8:30 p.m. 

The Pianodrome at Grace A.M.E Zion Church

This intimate, unique concert venue, housed inside the gorgeous and historic Grace A.M.E Zion Church, is the country’s first and only amphitheater made entirely of upcycled pianos. Musical performances will take place daily and most nights as well. WDAV’s sold-out Recording Inclusivity Initiative recital An Afternoon of Song will be held in the Pianodrome Sunday, April 14 at 4 p.m. – join the waitlist here

Live music at the Ally Main Stage

A diverse mix of local and national headliners will take the stage Thursdays through Sundays throughout SHOUT! Don’t miss performances include Country Night with Brittney Spencer, Rock & Blues Night with Dana Fuchs and Local Night featuring bands from the region. There’s something for everyone, and it’s all free. 

The Charlotte StrEATs Festival 

This weekend-long festival celebrates the best of our local cuisine, plus an appearance by Food Network star Aaron Sanchez (April 13-14). Saturday is free, Sunday is ticketed. Tip: Check out StrEATs Uncorked, highlighting North Carolina’s unique wine regions, on April 3!

Celebrate the Sounds of Summer with Outstanding Carolina Festivals

by Hayden Neumann

There’s something about enjoying a symphony in the fresh mountain air that simply can’t be replicated. Luckily, the Carolinas are home to a wealth of beloved summer music festivals, many of which offer the opportunity to savor thrilling performances surrounded by our states’ most glorious natural landscapes. With countless opportunities to hear live classical music (and much more) just a day trip away from Charlotte, where will this summer take you?

Introducing WDAV’s SummerStages Spotlight
Judlyne Gibson

As you listen to WDAV this summer, keep an ear out for our new Summer Stages Spotlight, a series of shorts that highlight important happenings at this year’s Eastern Music Festival, An Appalachian Summer Festival, and Brevard Music Center Summer Festival. Host Judlyne Gibson checks in with artists from all three festivals in quick and insightful interviews airing daily throughout the season. Listen to a season preview below, and find additional episodes throughout the season on demand at our website.

Summer Festivals Preview

Visit Summer Stages Spotlight for more

Whittington Pfhol Auditorium at the Brevard Music Center

Brevard Music Center Summer Festival | June 5 – August 6

Location: Brevard, NC | brevardmusic.org

Amidst a lovely wooded 180-acre campus lies Brevard Music Center (BMC), one of the country’s premier summer training programs and festivals for young and developing musicians. 

Students receive a plethora of opportunities to perform and study with distinguished faculty and renowned guest artists throughout the summer. This season offers diverse experiences highlighted by the BMC debuts of jazz great Branford Marsalis* and Broadway luminaries Patti LuPone* and Audra McDonald*. Moments to look forward to include appearances from bluegrass virtuosos Bryan Sutton* and Béla Fleck*, classical masterpieces including Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (the “Titan”)* and the Verdi Requiem*, plus family-friendly performances like Patriotic Pops* and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert*.

Find Tickets Here

*event has passed

Eastern Music Festival | June 24 – July 29

Location: Greensboro, NC | easternmusicfestival.org

Eastern Music Festival

Located on the campuses of Guilford College, UNCG and other venues in Greensboro, North Carolina, Eastern Music Festival (EMF) is a nationally recognized classical music festival and summer educational program. EMF provides guidance from its prestigious faculty to over 265 young, developing musicians from across the country as they take their first steps towards careers in the arts. Some highlights throughout the season will include Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade*, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5*, Mahler’s Symphony No. 5*, and Ravel’s Bolero*.

Find Tickets Here

*event has passed

An Appalachian Summer Festival | June 24 – July 29

Location: Boone, NC | appsummer.org

Appalachian Summer Festival logo.

Now entering its 39th season, An Appalachian Summer Festival has risen to become one of the nation’s most highly respected summer festivals, acclaimed for the breadth and quality of its artistic programming. The festival continually seeks to enlighten and educate – a focus reflected in such initiatives as the festival’s discounts for children’s tickets, school coupons, and ticket prices that are typically 30-40% lower than prices for comparable events in other venues. Some events that attendants can look forward to include evenings with Leslie Odom Jr.*, Lea Salonga*, the Calidore String Quartet*, John Oates*, and more.

Find Tickets Here

*event has passed

International Lyric Academy at Opera Carolina | June 19 – July 9

Location: Charlotte, NC | operacarolina.org/ila-festival

Celebrating 29 years of success, the International Lyric Academy is partnering with Opera Carolina this summer! Charlotte will play host to an intensive 5-week program that will wrap up in Vicenza, Italy for the last two weeks. Young musicians and singers from across the world will receive professional coaching and voice lessons and participate in a full range of masterclasses, individualized instruction, concerts, recitals and rehearsals culminating in performances of Le Nozze Di Figaro* by W. A. Mozart and J. Offenbach’s Les Contes D’ Hoffmann*. The festival also offers several free events, though tickets are required!

Find Tickets Here

Bach Akademie Charlotte Closes with Old-School, New-School Bachs

By Lawrence Toppman

One can drown happily in words at the main Bach Akademie Charlotte concerts: Helpful words from artistic director/host Scott Allen Jarrett, erudite words in Brett Kostrzewski’s essays in the program guide — surely the most elaborate and attractive in Charlotte — librettists’ words projected on walls behind the chorus, and inspiring words expertly sung by Baroque specialists from around North America.

So for once, let’s think about something else.

Consider the way concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky’s consoling violin, warm but not schmaltzy, reassured us of bliss as she accompanied a trio of singers wondering when salvation would come in J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Or the way principal trumpeter Josh Cohen brought high clarion interjections to the cantata “Unser Mund sei voll Lachens,” mirroring the text about awakening our senses.

The longer you listened to the final concert of the 2023 season, broadcast live Tuesday by WDAV-FM, the more details you heard. The wooden flutes of Colin St. Martin and Alaina Diehl, warmer and more rustic sounding than metal instruments, struck a pastoral note in the opening cantata. The continuo playing of cellist Guy Fishman and bassist Sue Yelanjian laid down a subtle but solid carpet of sound underneath the vocalists.

Naturally, the singers performed admirably. Gene Stenger stood out as the Evangelist and tenor soloist in the last section of the Christmas Oratorio, repudiating foes of Christianity (especially Herod) in the one really dramatic moment of that cycle of six cantatas. Yet I stayed attuned to the instrumentation even then, enjoying the way Margaret Owens and Kristin Olson cushioned his voice with their mellow oboes d’amore.

One of the two most exciting moments of the night came at the very beginning, as the whole orchestra bounced into the opening to “Unser Mund.” Bach repurposed the overture to his fourth orchestral suite for this cantata, adding trumpets and timpani (played grandly by Jonathan Hess), and Myers Park Presbyterian Church rocked with the rich sound.

Interestingly enough, the other highlight was the most ethereal. Jarrett conducted the eight-minute “Heilig” (Holy”) of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the most gifted of Johann’s sons and the most interesting Classical Era composer behind Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

Four soloists representing angels ascended to the rear balcony of the church, leaving the other 12 members of the chorus up front behind the orchestra. After a graceful alto solo by Sylvia Leith, the angels and humans entered a strange but instantly appealing dialogue. The humans sang conventional praise of God in robust fashion, while the celestial quartet quietly explored less conventional harmonies. (I wonder how far God’s tastes go. Would the Lord occasionally plug Arnold Schoenberg’s astringent cantata “A Survivor from Warsaw” into the heavenly iPod?)

As I listened, I wished for one more thing besides a chance to hear a wider range of composers at future festivals: Pieces that highlight only the orchestra, perhaps even soloists within it. Choral singing lies at the heart of BAC’s approach, but surely a Brandenburg Concerto wouldn’t be out of line. If C.P.E. Bach appeals to Jarrett, as he does to me, why not let Fishman take a crack at his A minor cello concerto?

The Akademie has done a first-rate job of balancing vocal works large and small, deep and uncomplicated, by J.S. Bach for six years. Could it be time to think more broadly about the 18th century, without abandoning the German master who gives the festival its name and mission?

Bach Akademie Charlotte Springs into Christmas

By Lawrence Toppman

Before the pandemic, Bach Akademie Charlotte (BAC) anchored its first two seasons with Johann Sebastian Bach’s profoundest utterances, the B Minor Mass and the St. Matthew Passion. During the pandemic, BAC settled for virtual performances and lectures via Zoom.

Since then, artistic director Scott Allen Jarrett has devoted himself to celebration in the big pieces on his spring programs: The Easter and Ascension Oratorios in 2022 and the six-part cycle of cantatas known as the Christmas Oratorio this week. WDAV broadcast the Saturday night concert live from Myers Park Presbyterian Church and will do so again Tuesday night.

You have to attend four concerts to get all six segments, which premiered in Leipzig in 1734-35. Jarrett has divided those up and paired them with other works over two evening performances and two matinees. The fest officially opened Saturday night with parts 1 and 2, accompanied by a brief Sanctus in C and yet another Christmas cantata, this one unrelated – though similarly buoyant in tone – and composed two decades earlier. (The fest opened unofficially Friday with a performance by harpist Andrea Mumm Trammell at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.)

I’ve been to three of the four live festivals and have grown accustomed to the satisfying pattern: An orchestra of about 24 musicians, mostly Baroque specialists recruited from around the nation, plays alongside a chorus of 16. Singers function like an all-star sports team: Each comes forward at some point to take solos, and they’re all skilled in Baroque performance style.

Unlike the Mostly Mozart Festival, whose title defines it, this one seldom veers from Bach. Organist Clive Driskill-Smith devoted 40 percent of his Sunday concert at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to other composers, but Jarrett doesn’t diversify. The five concerts he programmed offer 16 minutes of music by anyone else, eight by one of Bach’s cousins and eight by one of his sons.

Any variety in them comes from the composer himself. Even those of us who commit the heresy of wishing Handel and Vivaldi joined the mix can admire the way Bach colors his compositions.

Consider the oboes da caccia, curved wooden instruments bound in leather that look as if they summoned hounds in the 18th century. (The name means “hunting oboes.”) When they enter in Part 2 of the Christmas Oratorio, which depicts the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth, they suggest the pipes of shepherds walking down the hill to see the newborn king.

Jarrett, an informative host, told us the timpani flourishes that open part 1 are probably the first timpani solo in Western music. Those and the trumpet fanfares that followed reminded us that Bach repurposed a lot of this music from secular cantatas, often those written for patrons’ birthdays or name days.

These musical bursts and the opening line for the chorus – “Shout ye exultant, this day of salvation” – set the tone for the whole Christmas Oratorio, which Bach meant to be spread out from Christmas Day through January 6. “The 12 days of Christmas” is more than a teeth-grating holiday song: It’s a period stretching from Jesus’ birth through his circumcision and naming to the visit from the Magi. Except for a brief moment of unease from the deceptive Herod, Bach gives this whole musical arc a buoyant warmth.

Yet for me, the highlight Saturday night was “Christen, ätzet diesen Tag” (“Christian, etch this blessed day,” as in bronze or marble). Bach wrote it in his late 20s, as a hard-working choir director in Weimar known mainly as a keyboard player, and it has a young man’s exuberance.

It opens with a blast from four trumpets, something he never did again, and it sweeps us away on a tide of positive thinking. Though Satan briefly peeps impotently at us in the finale, the chorus affirms that Christ’s arrival means we can walk in grace henceforth. If that sentiment didn’t send you out of the church on a cloud of joy Saturday, what could?

“Omar” Triumphs, “Unholy Wars” Struggles

Pictured: Cheryse McLeod Lewis in “Omar” photo by Leigh Webber/courtesy Spoleto Festival USA.

By Lawrence Toppman

“A folk musician and a movie composer.” I heard that fragment of speech, which sounded a bit dismissive, in the lobby of the Sottile Theatre before the second performance of “Omar.” But why should the pairing of co-composers Rhiannon Giddens, who also wrote the libretto, and Michael Abels raise eyebrows?

Composers best known in their day for songs have written operas for 200 years, from Schubert through George Gershwin and up to Rufus Wainwright today. Many authors of film scores have written operas: Bernstein, Copland, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Herrmann, Saint-Saens, Walton and others. And Giddens received classical training at Oberlin College, while Abels has written for symphony orchestras. (The Charlotte Symphony played his “Global Warming” this season.)

In any case, they left virtually no skeptics unconvinced, no eyes dry and nobody’s sense of wonder unstirred with this piece based on the 1831 memoir of Omar ibn Said. They turned that brief and ambiguous book, so short on details about Omar’s passage to America and life as a slave in the Carolinas, into a universal story about a man’s search for self-understanding and refusal to give in to hatred and despair.

Omar, an educated Arabic-speaking man from West Africa, came to Charleston as a slave. His memoir tells us he received cruel treatment at the hands of his first master, ran away, ended up in a Cumberland County jail (surely no other opera contains the plea “Go to Fayetteville!”) and was bought by the relatively kind James Owen, who attempted to convert Omar to Christianity and gets much praise in the little book. Owen may have helped Omar publish his memoirs to show the world Southern slaves were well-treated, but even he probably never knew whether the slave clung to his original Islamic faith.

Writers can adapt this story however they like, and Giddens and Abels did an especially fine job. They quote from it, don’t make significant alternations – Omar doesn’t get a love interest or escape to freedom at last – yet expand it philosophically, as Omar considers his plight and his duty to Allah.

The composers give most of the simpler melodies to the two dozen members of the Spoleto Festival Chorus, who put them across clearly and emotionally. Elements of folk music do come in, as do north African percussion, and all fit. Two women, not described in the book, counsel Omar along the way: young Julie, sung beautifully by Laquita Mitchell, and mama Fatima (dignified UNC-Greensboro and UNCSA graduate Cheryse McLeod Lewis), who supplies balm.

Yet the show belongs to Jamez (pronounced Jah-MEZZ) McCorkle. Spoleto fans heard him in 2017 as a heartbreaking Lenski in “Eugene Onegin.” Here, hobbling slightly on a boot encasing a damaged ankle, he radiated a powerful if sometimes anguished physical presence and a tenor that sailed out over the big orchestra like a lighthouse beacon above a stormy sea. Though the opera rarely approaches atonality, he gets long stretches of declamatory singing, especially in Act 1, and brings each vividly to life.

He will reportedly tour with the show, which goes to Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New York before ending up in Chapel Hill. I can hardly imagine “Omar” without him, though if the opera has a long life – and this one might – he’ll have to pass the torch.

Karim Sulayman and Coral Dolphin on kneel on stage in a position of prayer in Unholy Wars. Photo by Leigh Webber.
Karim Sulayman and Coral Dolphin in Unholy Wars; photo by Leigh Webber.

In “Unholy Wars,” a worthy idea got short-changed by awkward execution. Lebanese-American Karim Sulayman conceived the idea, assembled the music and sang most of the numbers in a plangent, flexible and sensitive tenor voice. He wanted to look at the way European composers stereotyped Middle Eastern people through opera, especially in works about the Crusades, and challenge our assumptions by giving those characters individuality.

Unfortunately, he chose no composer later than Handel, whose “Lascia ch’io pianga” (the only familiar melody) capped the 70-minute show. That decision made the production monochromatic and finally monotonous – there’s not a single fast-paced section – and simply showing victimized characters as stereotypes does little to make us care about them.

The small pit band at Dock Street Theatre played with taste and restraint, and soprano Raha Mirzadegan and baritone John Taylor Ward supported Sulayman well, especially in the longest excerpt: Monteverdi’s “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda,” where a Christian crusader loves a Saracen, kills her unknowingly in battle, then baptizes her so she can enter a Christian heaven.

This demise, as slowed-down as the rest of the show, made Suleyman’s point long before the end of the number. Why silent dancer Coral Dolphin slowly writhed around the stage, sometimes washing herself with water and sometimes with sand, I cannot guess.

In Spoleto Festival Chamber Music Series, Last Minute Changes Can Be Good News

By Lawrence Toppman

Ever-restless Geoff Nuttall, wearing a brown suit and a sheepish grin, paced the Dock Street Theatre stage before concert No. 4. “I like getting emails from you,” the host of the Bank of America Chamber Music Series told the audience. “A lot of them start out in a nice way: ‘I really enjoy your chamber music programs.’ Then there’s the ‘but.’ They go on, ‘But…I really don’t like contemporary music as much as you do.’

“Well, those of you who don’t like contemporary music will be happy to hear we’re not playing Andy Akiho’s ‘The War Below,’ because Alexi Kenney got COVID, and the piece was too complicated to get another violinist on short notice.” One audience member applauded lustily. “Don’t be mean!” Nuttall said with a laugh. “The good news is, Pedja Musijevic will play C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata in C Minor instead.”

And there, in 30 seconds, you had the perennial attraction of Spoleto Festival USA’s chamber music concerts: humor, a chatty connection between musicians and listeners, spontaneity at every level and the ability to supply an internationally respected artist on short notice. Musijevic played the piano without a score, so he had the Bach in his fingertips, but he did so with only a day’s warning.

I hadn’t gone to Spoleto on a weekday for many years, and the availability of seats at both the 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. concerts surprised me. They’ve traditionally been full on weekends, but the lesser number of midweek tourists and lingering anxiety about COVID during a spike in Charleston thinned the crowd. (The festival continues through June 12.)

I wouldn’t attribute lower sales to Nuttall’s fresh and ingeniously balanced scheduling. The second program I saw exemplified his deft sonic juggling. It began with a slightly reorchestrated Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, where clarinetist Todd Palmer sailed through the prominent solos usually given to a high-pitched trumpet.

Next came two living composers. Gabriella Smith’s string-woodwind quintet “Children of the Fire” set up a quiet groove, tore it apart to the point of chaos, then set off on a dreamlike, harmonious arc. Tabea Debus turned her recorder into an anxious, fluttering bird through the intense solo “Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight” by Dani Howard.

Then Debus dropped back five centuries to skip nimbly through anonymous Renaissance variations on the tune “La Monica,” subtly abetted by theorbo player Adam Cockerham. Schumann’s Piano Quartet, anchored by gray-maned Stephen Prutsman at the keyboard, ended the program with an ecstatic performance by him and string players from the next generation.

As always, Nuttall prepared the ground for maximum enjoyment. He pointed out that Schumann required the cello to play a low C; cellist Paul Wiancko would suddenly have to re-tune to reach this note for a few moments, then quickly return to conventional tuning to play the rest of his part. Watching Wiancko fiddle frantically with the fine-tuners near the base of the cello added to the pleasure of his warm-hearted playing.

I doubt you could attend two Spoleto chamber concerts without making at least one joyful discovery. I made two.

First, I learned that a sopranino recorder – the tiniest version of that instrument, hardly larger than the fat pencils you give schoolkids learning to write – can sound like something other than steam escaping from an unattended kettle. Tabea Debus played one in the Vivaldi Recorder Concerto in C (RV 443), and the sounds ranged from a pennywhistle-like exuberance to a gentle breeze of melody.

Second, the Castalian String Quartet blew me away with a turbo-charged performance of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 6, an agonized piece written soon after the death of his beloved sister, Fanny. (This may have been the best performance of Mendelssohn’s last major work I’ve ever heard.) Nuttall’s own St. Lawrence String Quartet played on the first three chamber concerts and left the rest of the festival to the Castalians, who played superbly together and apart when joining other ensembles.

They and Debus both reside and work in England. We’re lucky that Nuttall keeps finding new faces like these, and Spoleto Festival USA keeps footing the bills to bring them to us.

Featured Image: Geoff Nuttall (far left) with Owen Dalby, Paul Wiancko, Christopher Costanza, and Lesley Robertson at the Dock Street Theatre. Photo by William Struhs/courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA.

Carolina Summer Festivals: Live and In-Person

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?

St. Lawrence String Quartet during the Bank of America Chamber Music series in 2019. Photo by William Struhs.
St. Lawrence String Quartet during the Bank of America Chamber Music series in 2019. Photo by William Struhs.

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.

Find Tickets Here

Eastern Music Festival  |  June 26 – July 31

Eastern Music Festival (EMF) Young Artist Orchestra overhead with Jose Luis Novo 2018. Photo by Ken Yanagisawa for EMF.
Eastern Music Festival (EMF) Young Artist Orchestra overhead with Jose Luis Novo 2018. Photo by Ken Yanagisawa for EMF.

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.

Find Tickets Here

An Appalachian Summer Festival  |  July 2 – 31

Location: Boone, NC   |   appsummer.org

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. 

Find Tickets Here

Brevard Music Center Summer Festival  |  July 9 – August 8

Brevard Music Center Students at a Waterfall. Photo by Steven McBride.
Brevard Music Center Students at Waterfall. Photo by Steven McBride.

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.

Find Tickets Here

Charlotte New Music   |   Events July 17, July 21 – 31

Beo String Quartet - four members of the group hold their instruments as they look toward the camera.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 malathem@wdav.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.

Summer Festivals Play On(line)

By Frank Dominguez

As the pandemic drags on in the Carolinas, the arts continue to feel the repercussions. Particularly hard hit are the regional summer music festivals that have been a haven of culture for both locals and vacationing visitors for many years. With customary creativity, these festivals have pivoted to present virtual programs in the spirit of the in person festivals.

Given how long WDAV has benefited from close partnerships with An Appalachian Summer Festival in Boone, the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, and the Brevard Music Center and Summer Festival in the western Blue Ridge Mountains, we feel an obligation to keep their presence front and center with our listeners.

Every Wednesday at 10 a.m. during the month of July, we feature a different classical music performance from An Appalachian Summer Festival, many of them featuring the acclaimed Broyhill Chamber Ensemble.

The Eastern Music Festival, helmed for decades now by the distinguished American conductor Gerard Schwarz, enjoys a similar showcase on WDAV Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. beginning July 14th through the 28th. We’ll share concert highlights from the festival that have previously aired on our weekly concert program, Carolina Live.

Our strongest ties are with the Brevard Music Center, which shares Davidson College as a “parent” in common with WDAV. The college is where music professor James Christian Pfohl first hosted the summer music camp that eventually moved to Brevard in the 1940s. It has grown to be one of the premier music centers and festivals in the nation. For more than a decade, WDAV has produced a concert series drawn from festival performances. A retrospective of the best of Open Air Brevard is available on WDAV Saturday evenings at 6 through August 15th, as well as on demand at our website.

Information about the online offerings of all these festivals is available at the WDAV Events Calendar.