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2021's Best Summer Classical Music Concerts

Things are finally starting to open up again, which is fantastic news for we string musicians who love to attend live music concerts. And, we have to admit, a silver lining of this past year is that major symphonies worldwide have perfected the art of broadcasting live events online. 

We envision online concert streaming as the wave of the music tech future, allowing audience members to attend "live" concerts from home when it isn't possible to be there in person.

Summer Concerts Are Worth Attending

We recommend always paying heed to and gracefully complying with venues' regulations around wearing masks, leaving seats open between you and others, social distancing, etc. as our world learns how to navigate this "new normal" in a way that is safe for all.

May 6 - June 4: Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sessions Episode 19: Elliot, Sowerby & Prokofiev (Free)

From May 6 through June 4, "concertgoers" can attend a CSO Session featuring the worlds of Elliot, Sowerby, and Prokofiev. This varied program of 20th-century music features two works by Prokofiev, both intended initially for ballets: an idiosyncratic quintet scored for the unusual combination of oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and bass, which evokes a circus setting while still maintaining the composer's signature elegance and wit, plus an encore presentation of the rapturous and romantic Suite from Romeo and Juliet. Rounding out the program are a pair of rarely performed works by Willard Elliot and Leo Sowerby.

May 27: Kick Off the Summer with the NY Phil's FREE Memorial Day Concert

Every year, the New York Philharmonic offers a free Memorial Day Concert. This season, the free Memorial Day Concert at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine features Bruckner's Eighth. "Beauty is what Bruckner is talking about," says Jaap van Zweden. In this symphony, beauty takes many forms: its gradual unfolding, burnished brass sonorities, soaring lyricism, and a triumphant ending — an inspiring, spiritual way to remember those who died while serving in America's armed forces. 

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance; ticket distribution begins at 5:00 p.m. The audio of the concert will be broadcast onto the adjacent Pulpit Green, weather permitting.

June 6: Head to the Philharmonie de Paris for The Bach Project, Featuring Yo-Yo Ma

Created in support of his latest album, Six EvolutionsYo-Yo expresses his continuing fascination and journey with Bach's six suites for unaccompanied violoncello. Learn more about the Paris concert, which is only one stop on his worldwide tour, at The Bach Project, which began in 2018. There, Yo-Yo Ma will perform all six of the suites, which means lucky concertgoers can enjoy more than two hours in the presence of musical greatness. 

In addition to being an incredible musician, Yo-Yo is a generous human and has performed in public for free throughout the pandemic, bringing joy to all who were fortunate enough to be present for his pop-up playing sessions.

3. June 12 & 13: Violinist Damien Escobar in St. Helena, California

If you love good food, gorgeous weather, beautiful vistas, and are old enough to go wine-tasting, plan a road trip to see Damien Escobar at the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California. Damien Escobar is a world-renowned violinist, author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, hailing from Jamaica, Queens, New York. His musical career spans over a decade, and his inspiring journey of making it big, losing it all, fighting to rebuild, and getting a second chance at success. 

Click here to learn more about the event and to purchase your tickets.

July 10 & 11: Boston Symphony Orchestra features violinist Baiba Skride (Morning Rehearsal & Concert)

Have you ever wondered what it's like to practice and perform with a top symphony? If so, we highly recommend purchasing tickets to BSO's "Saturday Morning Rehearsal" with violinist Baiba Skride. They begin with a pre-rehearsal talk, and then you get to see BSO conductor Andris Nelsons work with the orchestra and soloist. You'll witness how even the most esteemed professional musicians are still constructively guided to be the best they can be.

The main concert takes place on July 11 at 2:30 p.m., when the symphony will perform Carlos Simon's "Fate Now Conquers," a Sibelius "Violin Concerto," and Dvořák's Symphony No. 6. This concert is part of the larger BSO annual Tanglewood Music Festival, running from 7/19 - 8/16)

June 23 - August 4. Bravo!Vail Music Festival 

Back for its 34th season, Bravo!Vail Music Festival is a favorite for music lovers throughout the continental United States and the rest of the world. Set in one of the most scenic locations in the Rocky Mountains, the 2021 Bravo!Vail Music Festival showcases four phenomenal orchestras throughout the season: Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.  

As in summers past, chamber music will play a vital role this year, with programs highlighting both old favorites and contemporary works. The return of free concerts throughout the summer will bring no-cost programs to the community in an approachable way. 

If you love the broad spectrum of grander music festival events, you should also check out: 

July 28: Black Violin at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas

If you'd prefer a more contemporary take on string music, we recommend hearing Black Violin, who will be performing at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio. This particular concert is part of Black Violin's "Impossible Tour" (ironic tour name pun not intended!), showing how the center has rolled with the pandemic punches.  

Black Violin are advocates for educational outreach and, in the past 12 months have performed for over 100,000 students in the US and Europe. Their Impossible Tour will spread the message that anything is possible, and there are no limits to what one can achieve, regardless of circumstance.

September 4: Tchaikovsky Spectacular with the Pacific Symphony

What a glorious way to close out the summer concert and music festival season! No SummerFest is complete without the Pacific Symphony performing Tchaikovsky's thrilling 1812 Overture, complete with live cannons and brilliant fireworks. Enjoy the spectacle as you also listen to the greatest hits of some of Russia's greatest Romantic composers. Featuring guest artist, pianist George Li, the event occurs at the Orange County Fair and Event Center.


Nothing is more inspiring than being in the presence of expert string musicians who excel in their craft. We hope this summer allows you the opportunity to attend at least one event in person.