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Anthony Mcgill playing clarinet in front of a kinetic RGB Mirror by Daniel Rozin

Just Announced: SummerFest 2021

La Jolla Music Society (LJMS) has announced SummerFest 2021, which will be held from Friday, July 30 – Friday, August 20, 2021 at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla, California. The theme of Self + Sound, which was originally developed for SummerFest 2020 by Inon Barnatan, now in his third year as SummerFest Music Director, returns with the majority of its programming intact. Self + Sound explores how composers write themselves into their music and how the diversity of influences that make each person unique find their expression in sound. 

“The festival theme, Self + Sound, allows us to delve into the music that tells the composers’ own life stories; music that expresses their history and heritage and pays tribute to the people that shaped and inspired them. The concerts feature some of the most enduring pieces of chamber music, such as Mozart’s clarinet quintet and Tchaikovsky’s epic piano trio, as well as lesser known gems, and works by some of the most exciting composers writing today, including our very first chamber opera.

“I’m especially looking forward to the four American Perspectives concerts, part of the genre-bending Synergy Initiative, in which performers from across different artforms collaborate to tell the story of the American sound, and the mosaic of influences that make it special. I’m also thrilled to welcome Gabriela Lena Frank, who I admire greatly, as our composer in residence and guest curator. There are too many goodies to mention this festival will be a fun and profound journey, and we have the very best performers from all over the world who can’t wait to share this journey with our audience.”

– Inon Barnatan, SummerFest Music Director

Join us at SummerFest: Self + Sound for treasured works of the chamber music canon, like the great Mendelssohn Octet, the Brahms Sextet, and the Dvořák American Quintet; jazz classics, like Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite; and several new compositions, like SummerFest’s first ever chamber opera, A Song By Mahler written by Marc Neikrug, and the world premiere of Aaron Zigman’s Cello Rhapsody. 

This season’s artist roster features some of the finest chamber musicians performing today including cellists Alisa Weilerstein, Clive Greensmith, and Paul Watkins; pianists Daniil Trifonov and Aaron Diehl; violinists Augustin Hadelich, Liza Ferschtman, Paul Huang, and Stefan Jackiw; principal woodwind players from the country’s leading orchestras like clarinetist Anthony McGill, horn player Jennifer Montone, and oboist Nathan Hughes; four renowned string quartets: Attacca, Calder, Calidore, and Fluxx; as well as newcomers like a capella sensations, Kings Return. 

The Synergy Initiative, produced by Inon Barnatan and Clara Wu, continues for its third year with the American Perspectives series, which delves into what makes something sound distinctly American, and how the American sound, much like America itself, draws on myriad influences and, in turn, inspires others. The American Perspectives series is a captivating chronicle of musical America from folk songs, gospel choirs, and jazz classics to vast aural landscapes and iconic cinematic scores. The initiative concludes with a special Synergy event, Grand Duos, which features a genre-bending world premiere by trailblazing Israeli-American composer Tamar Muskal: a concerto for percussionist Stephen Schick, chamber ensemble, and computer-animated wooden mirror by artist Daniel Rozin. 

“It is with an immense sense of gratitude – and a bit of relief – that we have been able to realize our plan of postponing the 2020 festival, in much of its original form, to this summer. It was a logistically challenging endeavor that required commitments from our artists over a year in advance and several planning scenarios that had to adapt based on the ever-changing state guidelines. With the myriad of obstacles placed before us, it was important to keep the festival’s theme of Self + Sound intact, and in doing so, the theme has taken on new and even more profound levels of meaning. 

“I am eager to see whether our shared experience during the pandemic will impact our relationships to sound, affecting how we listen, perform, and engage with the music this summer. As we explore the theme through thoughtfully curated programs, discover new work by some of the finest compositional voices today like Gabriela Lena Frank, Caroline Shaw, and Tamar Muskal, and participate in the multitude of educational activities from open rehearsals to midday Artist Talks, this newfound commonality between artist and audience will allow us to jointly reflect on the challenges and silver linings of the past year and discover how lived experiences can shape one’s relationship to music – most importantly, our own.”

– Leah Rosenthal, Artistic Director

This year’s Takeovers at The JAI will be curated by Latin GRAMMY® Award-winner and Guggenheim Fellow, Gabriela Lena Frank, who was named one of the Washington Post’s 35 most significant women composers in history. Frank will shine the spotlight on her music and an inspiring array of emerging composers from the award-winning Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. 

From Fellowship Artist coaching workshops and masterclasses to artist talks and lectures, SummerFest will continue its tradition of holding educational activities throughout the festival. Highlights include two free daytime performances with the Fellowship Artists and special guests, as well as two extended lectures on the American Perspectives programs by a leading scholar. Musicians and composers from the festival will also join Artistic Director Leah Rosenthal in conversation for the Artist Lounge, a new series of events focused on the artist’s personal journey and connection to music. 

“Chamber music has always been the heart and soul of La Jolla Music Society, and SummerFest is our annual opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the most talented artists performing today. Inon has pulled together a group of extraordinary musicians and curated an exciting schedule, and we’re all looking forward to hearing this work performed in The Baker-Baum Concert Hall at The Conrad. 

“It’s important to add that patron safety has always been top of mind. The Conrad was built with a ventilation system that pulls air into the concert hall from under the seats and draws air out of the ceiling. This design keeps the flow of air moving away from the attendees and increases the safety of the venue for large audiences. As the State of California modifies its pandemic restrictions, we will continue to follow any state-prescribed guidelines for masking and showing proof of vaccination or negative test results, as well as our own precautions, to ensure the comfort and safety of our audience.”

– Todd Schultz, President & CEO

We can’t wait to see you this August at The Conrad!

SummerFest 2021

Explore the full season

  • SummerFest

Opening Night: Ode to Joy

  • SummerFest
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall
Paul Huang violinist on stairs
  • SummerFest

American Perspectives I: Goin' Home

  • SummerFest
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall
  • SummerFest

The Artist as Muse

  • SummerFest
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall
  • SummerFest

Notes on Freedom

  • SummerFest
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall