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? We’ve rounded up a list of where to find the best summer 2023 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.
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 this summer?
This is shaping up to be a fabulous summer for chamber music. Tickets are already on sale for some of these events, and 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 2023.
The 12 Best Chamber Music Festivals in the World this Summer 2023
The Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Rockport, Massachusetts, June 9th – July 9thth, 2023 (plus July 25th and August 12th) is back this summer. The Opening Night Celebration kicks off the fest with a joyful performance by the Grammy-nominated Dover Quartet. There will be magical performances all summer, including appearances by Jan Lisiecki, Isidore Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Paul Huang, and many others.
The festival will close with an unforgettable evening of Schubert. And don’t forget to return on July 25th and on August 12th for two special performances: first, by Grammy-winning ensemble Chanticleer; and to wrap up the summer, a night with leading violinist Gidon Kremer.
2. madeline island
Though Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, June 16th – July 22nd, 2023 is predominantly dedicated to the education of young chamber musicians, they do share the work from their summer residency with the public during some special summer concerts.
There are also performances from the esteemed faculty – this year, The Prairie Winds, the Ariana String Quartet, the Jupiter String Quartet, and the American String Quartet. And on the last night of the summer, the students will present a special performance with Andrés Díaz and Sabina Thatcher.
Within the larger Bravo! Vail Music Festival, June 22nd – August 3rd, 2023, the Chamber Series will have four performances this year, on June 27th (the Dover Quartet, playing Haydn, Schubert, and George Walker), July 11th (the Dalí Quartet and Ricardo Morales, performing works by Latin American composers), July 16th (the Dalí Quartet, performing the soundtrack to Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances as it’s projected on the big screen), and July 24th (acclaimed pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Anne-Marie McDermott).
All performances begin at 7 pm, and feature chamber music as it was meant to be heard: in an intimate setting, and among friends. Tickets are already on sale.
Winona’s Minnesota Beethoven Festival will be held from June 25th – July 16th, 2023. 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 Sphinx Virtuosi, Joshua Bell and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Jasmine Choi, Viano Quartet, and of course, the Minnesota Orchestra.
Chamber Music Northwest will return to Portland, Oregon from June 24th – July 29th, 2023 with a very special “Poetry in Music” summer festival. 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. And this year’s iteration sounds like the festival of our dreams – chamber music, plus “a dash of poetry.”
The Opening Night Celebration will feature the music of Mozart, Brahms, and Kian Ravaei, as performed by Fleur Barron, Benjamin Beilman, Ieva Jokūbavičiūtė, Hsin-Yun Huang, and Peter Strumpf. Poetry was the composers’ inspiration for the music played on this opening night, and it will continue to resonate through the performance.
The Aspen Music Festival, returns this summer, from June 29th – August 20th, 2023. This summer’s program will include performances by Aspen Chamber Symphony, Joyce Yang, Max Vengerov, and the in-residence Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.
For those unable to attend in-person, several performances will be livestreamed for free during the festival.
7. oregon bach
The Oregon Bach Festival, June 30th – July 15th, 2023, held in Eugene, is an annual celebration of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and his musical legacy. There will be performances from Paul Jacobs, Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien, Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, Susanna Phillips, Time for Three, and many others, as well as a special farewell performance from Emerson String Quartet after forty years of music.
And of course, the festival is not limited to Bach – there are also evenings dedicated to the works of Schubert, Vivaldi, Mozart, Strauss, and other legends.
The Seattle Chamber Music Society (SCMS) Summer Festival, July 3rd – July 29th, 2023, is comprised of four weeks of music at Benaroya Hall’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall.
From opening night – a special performance of Dohnányi, Bartók, and Ravel– on, attendees will enjoy the music of Schumann, Brahms, Prokofiev, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and others, brought to life by musicians such as James Ehnes, Benjamin Beilman, Edward Arron, Che-Yen Chen, and more.
Helsinki Chamber Music Festival, July 5th – 8th 2023, 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 Devienne, Poulenc, Schnyder, Brahms, and many other composers. Accomplished musicians on the program include Erzhan Kulibaev, Jaani Helander, Ignas Masvila and Ulla Knuuttila. An added benefit? Most of the festival programming is free to the public.
The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, July 7th – August 19th, 2023 – 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. They later commissioned the Music Shed to be built as a dedicated performance space. It opened in 1906, and is essentially unchanged since then – Sergei Rachmaninoff performed there.
Upon her death, Battell left a bequest that the facilities be used for Yale University’s summer music school, and as a result, the festival has a dual teaching and performance mission.
Artists this year include the Emerson String Quartet, Miró Quartet, and Brentano Quartet. There are several Master Classes and Emerging Artist showcases throughout the run of the festival. Sign up for the festival’s email list to learn more when the full program is released.
11. Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival will be held from July 16th – August 21st, 2023. 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 50th anniversary program include a performance of Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars. The concert will feature 40 musicians conducted by Alan Gilbert. A wide-ranging repertoire, with music by Vivaldi, Ligeti, Schoenburg, Bach, Schubert, and others. Eleven recitals. World premieres from living composers, including Magnus Lindberg, Ryan Chase, Christopher Stark, and Charlotte Bray. And a special gala to celebrate the festival’s 50th anniversary, featuring an all-Chopin concert by pianist Garrick Ohlsson, followed by a party at Bishop’s Lodge. The full program is available online.
Wrapping up the summer season is the Moab Music Festival in Utah, running from August 21st – September 15th, 2023. The event kicks off with a three-day, two-night trip through Westwater Canyon. Festival artists perform daily on this one-of-a-kind, musical raft trip.
Other festival highlights include the Piano Marathon: One Day, Three Concerts on August 26th. And the yearly musical hikes and performances in the impeccable acoustics of the red rock grotto. Special this year? A performance to celebrate 100 years of Ragtime, from the scenic Red Cliffs Lodge.
Best Chamber Music Festivals this Summer 2023
Those are our top picks for the best summer 2023 chamber music festivals, including Santa Fe, Aspen, Rockport, Vail, Helsinki and Seattle. Plan your trips now, dear reader.