I’m not one to tempt fate, so I will not be the one to vocalize or type out any sighs of relief over our apparent return to an unspecified word that begins with “n” and rhymes with “formal.”

But I’m also not one to let a full plate go unfinished (or a summer go funless). So while proceeding with reasonable caution and taking nothing about this fragile return to social life for granted, I’m also cramming my calendar as full of summer music as I and my SPF can handle.

Things are a little different this summer, maybe a lot. We’ll find ourselves outside, sitting some distance from one another and the orchestra. We’ll be scattered about various lawns and amphitheaters and terraces in faraway pods and clusters. We’ll experience a form of togetherness that in any circumstance other than the latter stages of a pandemic would feel positively luxurious, personal-space-wise.

But if we’re all vaccinated, why do we have to do this? you’ll call out to me from your square in the grass several yards away, but I’ll only half-hear something about you being fascinated and just wave back and say thank you. It’ll be a little weird for a while. Best to just focus on the music.

And this summer, there’s so much of it! What follows is a lightning round of summer series with some highlights. Click away: The classical landscape is more of a landscape than ever, and it’s blooming with options.

Wolf Trap

This season, Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., returns to the scene to celebrate the semicentennial of the Filene Center. On July 1, “Fifty Years Together: A Celebration of Wolf Trap” brings together the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of JoAnn Falletta and a cast of guest artists including Cynthia Erivo, Christine Goerke (herself a Wolf Trap Opera alumna) and pianist Joyce Yang.

For an impromptu summer course on Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, on June 18, Wolf Trap Opera presents his 1780 chamber opera “The Anonymous Lover” with Geoffrey McDonald leading the NSO and Kimille Howard directing a cast including Chanáe Curtis as Léontine and Ricardo Garcia in the role of Valcour. Conductor Jonathon Heyward makes his Wolf Trap debut on July 8 and 9, leading the NSO and guest violinist Francesca Dego in a program of Beethoven (Symphony No. 7) and Bologne — as well as a new work from the NSO’s new composer-in-residence, Carlos Simon.

The Filene Center is operating at reduced capacity, with seating arranged in socially distanced “pods” of two to eight guests. For more information and tickets, visit wolftrap.org.


Ending a 16-month performance hiatus, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is back at its Tanglewood outpost July 9 to Aug. 16 for a summer of performances at the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in six concerts, opening the season with an all-Beethoven program featuring pianist Emanuel Ax taking on the “Emperor” concerto (No. 5) as well as the overture to “The Creatures of Prometheus” and Symphony No. 5. (They perform Carlos Simon’s “Fate Now Conquers” on July 11.)

On July 24, John Williams leads his own Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter. And on July 25 and 26, Thomas Adès leads the BSO and directs the Festival of Contemporary Music, to feature works by 10 living composers, including Andrew Norman, Xinyang Wang and D.C.’s Jeffrey Mumford.

Tanglewood was recently able to increase capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent, allowing for 2,400 patrons in the Shed and 6,600 on the lawn. Mask-wearing and physical distancing are still recommended, though the latter has been reduced to three feet. For more information and tickets, visit bso.org.


The trusty summer festival, based in Katonah, N.Y., reemerges with a vibrant summer season. On June 24, PUBLIQuartet plays a program titled “What Is American?” featuring works by Jessie Montgomery and Vijay Iyer and reimaginings of pieces by Dvorak and Ornette Coleman. New music fans should start packing their picnic baskets: The Crossing sings “The Forest” on the grounds on July 3; Alarm Will Sound performs John Luther Adams’s “Ten Thousand Birds” on July 11; “21 for ’21” alumna Jiji performs her “Unbound” program on July 22; So Percussion is joined by beatboxer Dominic Shodekeh Talifero on July 25; and Pekka Kuusisto (another from our Class of ’21) joins Nico Muhly for a special duo set on July 29.

Seating for all performances will be arranged with six feet between groups, and masks are requested for guests in proximity to other groups. For more information and tickets, visit caramoor.org.

Lincoln Center

In New York City, Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages programming has made 10 outdoor performance spaces and civic venues available to artists through the pandemic, and they’re keeping all of them buzzing through the summer season.

Of special note are the three remaining performances by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, whose Summer Evenings Outdoors series at Damrosch Park will meet the city with the sounds of Brahms on June 26; Beethoven and Dvorak on July 7; and Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann on July 10. For more information and tickets, visit chambermusicsociety.org.

Hollywood Bowl

The storied summer home of the LA Philharmonic is back for the summer under the baton of music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel (recently named music director of the Paris Opera). He’ll lead the Phil along with Christina Aguilera on July 16 and 17, with Thomas Wilkins taking the podium with guest Cynthia Erivo on July 30.

But the “straight classical” fare has me checking fares as well: Tianyi Lu leads the Phil in Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” (along with premieres by Thea Musgraves and Ricardo Mollá) on July 20. Gemma New conducts a program of “Schumann and Schumann” — Clara’s Piano Concerto in A minor (featuring Isata Kanneh-Mason) and Robert’s “Rhenish” symphony on Aug. 5.

And after some Bologne from rising star Randall Goosby, Dudamel helms Dvorak’s “New World” symphony on Aug. 12 — the Bowl runneth over. No, really: California regulations have recently allowed 100 percent capacity. (Here’s hoping “normal” feels normal by then.) For more information and tickets, visit hollywoodbowl.com or laphil.com.