By Jennifer Falconer Hall
1.Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, California
This year marks not only the 25th anniversary, but also the farewell season of conductor Marin Alsop. Highlights include Thunderstruck, a rock-infused homage to the music of the 60s and 70s by Christopher Rouse; and RIFT, a 25-minute Symphonic Ballet by the London-born composer Anna Clyne, featuring the Histerica Dance Company and lighting and visual design by Tom Ontiveros.
July 3–August 13
2. Blossom Music Festival, Ohio
As usual, the Cleveland Orchestra performs inside Cuyahoga Valley national park, a 33,000-acre landscape dotted with waterfalls, marshes, farmland and hiking trails. Also on the programme is a performance from Yo Yo Ma with the Silk Road ensemble, and a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, to a live accompaniment by the Cleveland Orchestra.
July 4–September 4
3. Lincoln Center Festival, New York
The festival at the Lincoln Center for Performing Art focuses on contemporary artists and multidisciplinary works. This year the highlights include Golem, a dystopian fable of an ‘extraordinary ordinary man’ using a mixture of animation, claymation, live music and theatre; Paradise Interrupted, a new work described as ‘part opera, part dynamic art installation’ by the Wall Street Journal; and an improvised performance from Wang Li and Wu Wei playing the ancient Jew’s Harps and a Sheng whilst using throat singing and circular breathing techniques to generate the illusion of electronic sound.
4. Grand Canyon Music Festival, Arizona
A series of ‘micro-operas’ by young Native American composers is a highlight of this year’s festival, which takes place on the edge of an enormous ditch – eighteen miles across and one mile deep. Elsewhere, the Catalyst Quartet premieres Puhutawi, a collaborative work based on Hopi ceremonial music.
August 25–September 10
5. Moab Music Festival, Utah
Attendees take a 45-minute jet boat ride down the Colorado river during this festival, held in Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Along with traditional classical fare, the programme includes jazz and Latin sounds on ranches, in private homes and at various outdoor settings, not least a towering red-rock grotto inside Canyonlands.