One of the highlights every summer in Transylvania County is the internationally renowned Brevard Music Center’s Summer Institute & Festival. During a 10-week period spanning June to August, Brevard Music Center (BMC) offers more than 80 performances and events.
Led by Artistic Director Keith Lockhart, the Summer Music Festival provides audiences an array of symphony, opera, chamber, pops, jazz, bluegrass, dance and folk performances, including symphonic masterpieces by Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky; piano virtuosos Olga Kern and Conrad Tao; bluegrass legends Steep Canyon Rangers and Béla Fleck; BMC Presents artists, including The Manhattan Transfer and Asheville dance troupe Terpsicorps; a season-long Festival Within a Festival celebrating the centennial of Leonard Bernstein; a Rock Violin Concerto featuring R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, and a family-friendly night at the movies with “West Side Story” on the big screen, accompanied by a live symphony.
This year is the 82nd season. The festivities officially commence on Opening Night, Friday, June 22, when Lockhart returns to lead Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring Kern. The Music Center’s non-classical series, BMC Presents, kicks off the new season on Saturday, June 23, with The Manhattan Transfer. On Sunday, June 24, Lockhart launches BMC’s 2018 Bernstein Festival with “Beloved Bernstein”—a distinct collection of pieces including “Overture to Candide,” “Fancy Free,” “On the Town,” “Divertimento” and “On the Waterfront.” The opening weekend celebration continues through Tuesday, June 26, with local favorite Steep Canyon Rangers. Produced in collaboration with Mountain Song Productions, the sextet takes center stage alongside BMC Resident Conductor Ken Lam and the Brevard Sinfonia for an evening of bluegrass, folk rock, pop and country.
As part of the Bernstein celebration, one of the most prominent and widely published writers on topics in American music, Joseph Horowitz, returns to participate in a season-long series of events and free lectures providing context around the influential composer’s music. The Leonard Bernstein Festival includes a series of classical and Broadway concerts featuring works such as “Chichester Psalms,” Symphony No. 2 (“Age of Anxiety”) and the “Mass,” among others.
Two fully staged performances of the opera “Candide” and the movie “West Side Story” (with live symphony) are also featured. New York City’s WQXR Young Artists Showcase is also coming to BMC. Now in its 40th year on WQXR, Young Artists Showcase is a weekly radio show that seeks out and displays the talents of young emerging artists.
On July 19, long-time host Robert Sherman brings his show to Brevard to highlight BMC student musicians. The July performance will be taped for subsequent national broadcast on WQXR, as well as regional broadcasts on WCQS (Asheville) and WDAV (Charlotte). Additional season highlights include July 4, when BMC celebrates Independence Day with its annual Pendergrast Patriotic Pops concert, featuring the rousing “1812 Overture,” with live cannon. On July 7, R.E.M.’s Mills, on keyboard/guitar, and BMC alumnus Robert McDuffie, on violin, will perform Mills’ “Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra.”
On July 20, Tao returns to Brevard to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Throughout June and July, a series of seven BMC Student Spotlights illuminate the many talents of the Music Center’s exceptional students. Additional symphonic highlights include Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony on June 29, and a dramatic season finale weekend featuring Holst’s “The Planets” on Aug. 3, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” on Aug. 4, and Bernstein’s “Mass” on Aug. 5. Lockhart returns to Brevard for his final season appearances to conduct both “The Planets” (which also features visuals from the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute/PARI) and Bernstein’s “Mass.” On July 14, BMC presents “West Side Story” on the Music Center’s Whittington-Pfohl.
This summer, opera lovers can experience three fully staged operas and two operatic concerts. In addition to “Candide” on July 26 and 28, BMC’s Opera Company presents Puccini’s “Madam Butterfly,” on June 28 and 30, and Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” (Cinderella) on July 12 and 14. “Opera’s Greatest Hits” and “Sondheim on Sondheim” complete the season’s opera schedule on June 21 and Aug. 2. All operas are staged in the Scott Concert Hall at the Porter Center (on the Brevard College campus) on Thursdays or Saturdays and are complemented by English subtitles above the stage.
Brevard’s 82nd season also includes the return of Adam Holzman and the Texas Guitar Quartet on June 7, the BMC debuts of jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker on June 8 and Asheville dance troupe Terpsicorps on July 17, and a special post-season concert by banjo player Béla Fleck on Aug. 18. Fleck will also host his first banjo camp (www.BlueRidgeBanjoCamp.com) at BMC from Aug. 15-19. From June through August, chamber music enthusiasts will also have the chance to see The Shanghai Quartet (“Beethoven Cycle I and II”), Sō Percussion and the return of Noah Bendix-Balgley, principal concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, in a performance with friends. BMC’s faculty also take center stage in a series of chamber performances featuring works by Dvořák, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann and Bernstein. All chamber concerts are staged in the Scott Concert Hall at the Porter Center or Ingram Auditorium (on the Brevard College campus). Subscription and Ticket Information: Tickets to Brevard Music Center’s Summer Festival start at $20. Lawn seating at Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, BMC’s 1,800-seat, open-air auditorium, is free for children under 17 (with a paying adult) and students 18 and older (with a valid ID).
For more information about BMC’s 2018 Summer Music Festival, go to www.brevardmusic.org, or contact BMC’s subscription line at (828) 862-2130, or via email at subscriptions@ brevardmusic.org.