A passionate group of music-loving travelers will soon be crisscrossing the globe attending their favorite summer chamber music festivals. Looking for where to hear chamber music this summer? Our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum is sharing her notes on where to find the best summer 2022 chamber music festivals in the world, including Santa Fe, Aspen, Rockport, Vail, Helsinki, Seattle and more.
What makes chamber music so special?
Are you a mélomane? Or perhaps you have one in your family?
We became of aware of this condition – a great love of music, especially chamber music – when one of our friends, a world-class musician who was in town to play with the New York Philharmonic, stopped by for a visit.
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He kindly explained that while some people love symphonic performances, for others, the effect is overwhelming. It might be too loud, too impersonal, too distancing. For them, chamber music provides a more intimate engagement with the music.
That intrigued us, so we went digging to learn more. Here’s what we found: chamber music is composed for performance by a small group of instruments—traditionally a group that could fit inside a palace chamber. There is only one performer per part and chamber compositions frequently resemble a conversation among the musicians.
Where are the best places to hear chamber music?
After two years of uncertainty, we are delighted to tell you that all of our favorite chamber festivals are in full-swing this summer. Tickets are already on sale for some of these events. Others are just about to become available, so this is the perfect time to get out your calendar and start scheduling.
Here’s our curated list of the best summer chamber music festivals in the world for 2022.
The Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Rockport, Massachusetts, June 11th – July 10th, 2022 (plus the Festival Annex, August 12 – August 14, 2022) is back this summer, under the leadership of artistic director Barry Shiffman.
The Festival’s Opening Night Celebration kicks off the fest with a joyful performance of Schubert, Mozetich and Elgar, led by Daniel Ching. Members of the Rolston, Verona, Orford and Miró quartets come together to form this conductor=less ensemble.
There will be magical performances all summer, including appearances by Stella Chen, Zukerman Trio, Ray Chen, Kirill Gerstein, Brentano String Quartet, and many others. We are looking forward to the programming on July 1st, when the Grammy-nominated ensemble A Far Cary will play a family-friendly program entitled “Circle of Life,” with music by Bartok, Ali-Zadeh, Dvorak, Doty, and Beethoven.
The Annex in August will see a performance of Debussy & Mahler by the Festival Chamber Orchestra; the Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quintet; and closing out the season, a special evening of Beethoven with David Deveau and Andrés Cárdenes.
2. Oregon Bach
The Oregon Bach Festival, June 17th – July 5th, 2022, held in Eugene, is an annual celebration of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and his musical legacy. Kazem Abdullah will step into the role of artistic director, conducting Bach’s Mass in B Minor on June 21st, and a modern chamber concert on June 18th. There will be performances from the Grammy-winning OBF Chorus, the University of Oregon Chamber Choir, and the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy. Patrons can expect to see music from Simmone Dinnerstein, Laura Downes, Matt Haimovitz, Paul Jacobs, Monica Huggett, Tyler Duncan, and many others.
The best summer chamber music festivals of 2022: Oregon Beach. Courtesy Photo.
3. madeline island
Though Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, June 19th – July 23rd, 2022 is predominantly dedicated to the education of young chamber musicians, they do have a few special performances open to the public. This summer, head to northern Wisconsin to see Arianna String Quartet on June 25th; Harlem Quartet on July 2nd; Jupiter String Quartet on July 9th; and American String Quartet on July 15th. There will also be performances from the emerging fellowship students throughout the summer.
Within the larger Bravo! Vail Music Festival, June 23rd – August 4th, 2022, the Chamber Series will have four performances this year, on June 28 (An Evening With Hélène Grimaud), July 12 (An Evening With McDermott & Szeps-Znaider), July 25 (Verona Quartet & McDermott), and August 1st (Danish String Quartet). All performances begin at 7 pm, and feature chamber music as it was meant to be heard: in an intimate setting, and among friends. Attendees will be able to hear the music of Schubert, Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Puccini, Coleridge-Taylor, and others. Tickets will go on sale in early May.
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Winona’s Minnesota Beethoven Festival will be held from June 26th – July 17th, 2022. The festival takes place at various venues across the city, including Winona Middle School, Page Theatre at Saint Mary’s University, and the Winona Lake Park Bandshell. This year’s exciting program features appearances by Ariel Quartet, Olga Kern, Ray Chen, Manhattan Chamber Players, The King’s Singers, and of course, Minnesota Orchestra.
Chamber Music Northwest will make their triumphant return to Portland, Oregon, June 27th – July 31st, 2022. Founded in 1971, the festival takes place at the Kaul Auditorium on the campus of Reed College and in Lincoln Hall at Portland State University. There will also be plenty of “at-home” events throughout the fest, so attendees are able to participate from afar.
The Opening Night Celebration will feature the music of Beethoven, Ravel, and Dohnány, as played by Gloria Chien, Fred Sherry, Jennifer Fraustchi, and others, including the festival’s artistic director emeritus, clarinetist David Shifrin. This year’s program is dedicated to exploring the ways in which composers are influenced by their peers, while still maintaining their own unique voices. The full calendar of events is available online.
The Aspen Music Festival, returns this summer, from June 30th – August 21st, 2022. This summer’s program will include performances by Aspen Chamber Symphony, Aspen Festival Orchestra, Matthew Whitaker Quintet, Esther Yoo, and Pacifica Quartet. For those unable to attend in-person, performances by Aspen Chamber Symphony and Aspen Chamber Orchestra will be livestreamed throughout the festival.
The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, July 3rd – August 14th, 2022 – at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains in northwest Connecticut – is one of the oldest in the US. In the 1890’s, Ellen Battell and her husband Carl Stoeckel, son of the Yale School of Music’s first professor, began hosting chamber music and choral concerts in their mansion. The Music Shed was later commissioned and built as a dedicated performance space. It opened in 1906, and is essentially unchanged since then. Here’s a fun fact: Sergei Rachmaninoff performed here. Battell bequeathed the facilities to Yale University’s summer music school. As a result, the festival has a dual teaching and performance mission.
Artists this year include the Brentano, St. Lawrence, and the Dover Quartets, and many more. There are several Master Classes and Emerging Artist showcases throughout the run of the festival. Sign up for the festival’s email list to see when the full program is released.
The Seattle Chamber Music Society (SCMS) Summer Festival, July 5th – July 31st, 2022, is comprised of four weeks of music at Benaroya Hall’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall.
From opening night – a special performance of Bach, Bartók, and Brahms – on, attendees will enjoy the music of Vivaldi, Strauss, Coleridge-Taylor, Debussy, and others, brought to life by musicians such as James Ehnes, Edward Arron, Ani Aznavoorian, and Brant Bayless.
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Helsinki Chamber Music Festival, July 6th – 9th 2022, is typically held in the heart of the old city center, surrounding the Senate Square. The neighborhood’s architecturally unique Art Nouveau halls, atmospheric outdoor stages in courtyards, and beautiful churches provide a wonderful setting. This year’s festival includes the music of Händel, Beethoven, Barrière, Chopin, Chausson, and many other composers, played by accomplished musicians such as Mari Poll, Pekko Pulakka, and Kreeta-Julia Heikkilä. Most of the program is completely free to the public.
11. Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival will be held from July 17 – August 22, 2022. Founded in 1972, the beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains makes this a particularly wonderful way to experience chamber music. All performances will be held in the St. Francis Auditorium, at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Highlights of this year’s immense program include the return of four renowned ensembles, Dover, Escher, FLUX and Miami string quartets. The debut of Chien-Kim-Watkins Trio, playing a cycle of the Beethoven Piano trios. A performance of Knussen’s Requiem: Songs for Sue and Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony in E Major, conducted by John Storgårds. And solo recitals from violinist Leila Josefowicz, and pianists Zoltán Fejérvári, Kirill Gerstein, Benjamin Hochman, Gilles Vonsattel, and Haochen Zhang. The full program is available online.
Wrapping up the summer season is the Moab Music Festival in Utah, running from August 22 – September 16, 2022. The event kicks off at 7 am on August 30th. It will start with the annual musical raft trip through Colorado River’s Ruby-Horsethief and Westwater Canyons. Other festival highlights include the floating concert “Schubert on the Water.” And the yearly musical hikes and performances in the impeccable acoustics of the red rock grotto. In a new offering this year, attendees can enjoy a performance by Béla Fleck at Sorrel River Ranch. And it’s the festival’s 30th birthday so guests can join the celebration.
10 Chamber Music Festivals Best in the World this Summer 2022
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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.