The moment the curtain came down on Swan Lake at Bass Hall on June 1 — a production by Texas Ballet Theater, with the Fort Worth Symphony in the orchestra pit — was as good a time as any to mark the end of the local 2013-14 performing arts season.
Though a few local theater companies program through the summer, the orchestra players change into T-shirts and soldier on at Concerts in the Garden, and Bass Hall fills up with touring pop artists and Broadway shows, many of us will head out of town seeking milder weather.
That doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch with our favorite artists. You’ll see some very familiar names on summer arts stages, whether you vacation in the Rocky Mountains, in Italy or in Russia’s cultural capital. Why not plan a trip around one of them?
For inspiration, we asked what Cliburn pianists, local conductors and other notable performers are doing this summer.
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Yang, the 2005 Cliburn silver medalist, has had one of the brightest careers of any recent Cliburn winner. And the jury that year accurately identified one of her supreme talents: chamber music. Though she was just 19, she won the award for best chamber music performance, and has since been in constant demand as both a chamber musician and a soloist with top orchestras. She’ll have a typically busy summer this year. Catch her in Aspen, Colo. (Grieg’s Piano Concerto on July 18), then Vail (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic, July 25), then Aspen again (chamber music with violinist Augustin Hadelich and guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, July 26). Or, if travels take you to New York City during the July Fourth holiday week, she’ll also play Rachmaninoff’s First indoors with the New York Philharmonic on July 2-3 at Avery Fisher Hall.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
This season, DSO makes its 13th appearance at one of the nation’s most prestigious summer music festivals, Bravo! Vail. It’s an enviable two-week residency at the gorgeous Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colo., at a festival that also includes the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The DSO kicks things off June 27 with a pops concert featuring jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli and music by George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. Classical nights are highlighted by Beethoven’s Ninth (June 28) and Ravel’s Bolero (June 29), both led by Music Director Jaap van Zweden. There’s also a night of classic film music (July 2) and a patriotic July 4th program with DSO principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik. For the best views, pack a picnic and recline on the grassy hillside. Wherever you sit, you’ll hear the gurgling of the fast mountain stream just behind the stage during quieter musical passages.
The Cliburn’s current gold medalist, having made a triumphant recital appearance in St. Petersburg, Russia, last September, returns to that city this summer for the Stars of the White Nights Festival, a truly extravagant three-month fest named after the famous season of the midnight sun. Amid dozens of opera, ballet and orchestral performances, Kholodenko will play a recital June 21 of Brahms, Liszt and more at the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall. Then, he hits the cobbled medieval streets of Croatia’s capital city for a July 3 recital at the Zagreb Summer Evenings festival that includes Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, which he played so memorably at last year’s Cliburn. Closer to home, see him in the mountains of western North Carolina at the Brevard Music Center on July 18. He’ll perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Miguel Harth-Bedoya, music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. It’s a preview of their plan to present all five Prokofiev concertos with the FWSO that kicks off with three more performances of this piece Oct. 24-26 at Bass Hall.
The young man who shared the gold medal with Nobuyuki Tsujii at the 2009 Cliburn Competition is touring his native China in June, but the biggest date on his summer calendar is his debut at the BBC Proms, which bills itself as the world’s greatest classical music festival. It’s certainly the world’s most spirited. Held since 1895, in recent decades mostly at London’s Royal Albert Hall, it’s a serious music festival that’s also deeply populist and full of arcane traditions. Same-day standing-room (or “Promming”) tickets (£5) get you a spot in the middle of the hall, right in front of the stage, and because Zhang is a pianist he’ll probably witness this little quirk: Whenever a piano is moved into place and its top opened, one section of the audience shouts out “Heave!” and another answers “Ho!” Zhang is scheduled to perform Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on July 19 with the China Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Fort Worth-born diva never seems to slow down: She’ll have a new album this fall produced by that other Fort Worth-born genius, T Bone Burnett. It’s a throwback of sorts to her very first recording, which he produced back when they were both 19 years old. She’ll show two sides of her talent this summer: the Tony-winning belter in Vixens of Broadway, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts in the Adirondacks, June 20 in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and the cabaret chanteuse, Aug. 1 at the Cabaret & Performance Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn.
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s well-traveled music director can be counted on to spend part of his summers in places where we all want to vacation. This season, he’ll lead major concerts at the Aspen Music Festival, with violinist Joshua Bell in the Bruch Violin Concerto (July 6); with flutist James Galway at Chicago’s sprawling Ravinia Festival (July 8); in Brevard, N.C., with Cliburn gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko (July 18) and without (July 19), also at the Brevard Music Center; and back-to-back nights at the Grand Teton Music Festival in the mountain setting of Jackson Hole, Wyo. (Aug. 8-9).
Yeol Eum Son
The South Korean pianist, who won silver at the 2009 Cliburn Competition, has recently toured mostly in Asia and Europe. A highlight of her summer is an appearance in the ancient, Byzantine-flavored city of Ravenna, Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. She’ll be part of one of the Ravenna Festival’s highest-profile concerts, performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on June 14 with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the great Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, who knows something about judging competition winners — he’s chairman of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.