BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor Music Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary from July 3 through July 31, with its most ambitious festival to date, presenting a unique variety of performances encompassing recitals, chamber music, pops, new composers, opera, jazz and string orchestra concerts, as well as a new composers forum. The festival also will present a Young Audience Concert Series throughout the month.
The Maine Sea Coast Mission overlooking picturesque Frenchman Bay will be the setting for the festival’s Opening Day Tea Concert on Sunday, July 3, at 4 p.m., with baritone Keith Harris, lauded as “a talented top-notch actor-singer” by Forum opera.com. The concert will include music by Schumann, Ravel and Gerald Finzi, among others. Locally donated tea and baked goods will be served during intermission.
Brass Venture will appear for the 13th consecutive season for opening night on Wednesday, July 6, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church. Their program, sponsored by Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, will celebrate the Centennial of Acadia National Park by featuring the world premiere of “Scenes from the Great Park,” by Eric Ewazen, award-winning composer-in-residence at the Juilliard School.
Festival audience favorite pianist Christopher Johnson will be heard in recital on Friday, July 8, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church. He will perform music by Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy, as well as Gershwin’s dazzling and powerful “Rhapsody in Blue.”
The musical festivities will continue on Sunday, July 10, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Club with the annual pops concert. Soprano Janinah Burnett; mezzo-soprano Fenlon Lamb; baritone Harris and pianist Cara Chowning will perform “Dinner at Don Juan’s,” with gems by Jerome Kern, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Harold Arlen and Gershwin. A pre-concert buffet dinner (optional) will be served beginning at 6 p.m. at the club.
At the Bar Harbor Congregational Church on Wednesday, July 13, at 8 p.m. will be the 33rd Annual New Composers Concert, “Summer Sounds,” introducing the North/South Consonance Duo, violinist Claudia Schaer and pianist Max Lifchitz. Among the leaders in championing new music, the duo will be heard in a fascinating program of works by Luciano Berio, Augusta Read Thomas, Muhly, Lifchitz, Daria Semegen and Edmund Cionek (world premiere).
This concert is made possible in part by a grant from the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. Prior to the concert, the 20th Annual New Composers Forum will be held at the church on Tuesday, July 12, 5:30 p.m.
The Bar Harbor Music Festival Opera Theatre will present Mozart’s masterpiece “Don Giovanni” at the newly renovated Criterion Theatre on Friday, July 15. Lamb is the stage director. Chowning is the music director.
Curtain time is 8 p.m. for this event, not to be missed, as this is the only fully staged live opera production north of Portland this summer. This is a rare opportunity to hear some of the top young operatic talents in the country from the Metropolitan Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, San Francisco Opera, to mention a few, in our own community.
Pianist Antonio Galera-Lopez is returning from Spain by popular demand on Sunday, July 17, at 8 p.m. for a recital at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church. Schubert’s great B-flat Sonata, D 960, along with Tchaikovsky and Granados, will be featured. The Palm Beach Daily News said it well: “Galera-Lopez represents all that we admire in a pianist: warm sound, artistic phrasing and faultless technique.”
Flutist Allison Kiger and Galera-Lopez will combine forces to present a recital on Tuesday, July 19, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church of music by J.S. Bach, Samuel Barber, Franck and Debussy. Kiger is the founder and director of the Mozart at Monteux Festival at the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock.
The ever-popular Ardelia Trio, violinist Janey Choi, cellist Clara Yang and pianist Jihea Hong Park, will be center stage on Friday, July 22, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church for a program highlighted by Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, opus 67.
Pianist Margaret Mills, who spearheaded the festival’s New Composers Concerts from 1990-2006, is joining the festival’s 50th Anniversary Celebration with a program featuring the women composers Ruth Schonthal, Miriam Gideon and Amy Beach. Violinist Jeffrey Ellenberger and cellist Robert Tennen will collaborate with Mills in Beach’s Piano Trio, opus 150. This special “musical reunion” concert will be on Saturday, July 23, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church.
The Wolverine Jazz Band is appearing for the 12th consecutive season at Jazz Night on Sunday, July 24, at 8 p.m. at the Jackson Laboratory Commons. Their program, “New Orleans Dance Hall Memories,” is high on the nostalgia list of jazz fans. Bob Barta, banjo and vocals, will be the guest artist. A cash bar is available.
On Wednesday, July 27, at 8 p.m. (rain date July 28, 8 p.m.), the Bar Harbor Festival String Orchestra, conducted by Francis Fortier, will perform the 44th Annual Acadia National Park Outdoor Concert at Blackwoods Campground Amphitheatre in Otter Creek. Admission is free (voluntary contribution). The soloists will be baritone George Neptune, oboist Gerard Reuter and violinist Ellenberger. The music is by Mozart, J.S. Bach, Cionek (world premiere) and Josef Suk. Cionek’s new work, “Songs of the Sky,” inspired by the majesty of Acadia National Park, is part of Acadia’s Centennial Celebration. Native American Neptune is the baritone soloist.
The String Orchestra can be heard next at Saint Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor in the 12th Annual Bob Noonan Memorial Concert on Friday, July 29, at 8 p.m. Galera-Lopez will be the guest soloist performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, Kochel No. 467.
The Festival Gala on Sunday, July 31, at 8 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Club will bring the curtain down on the 2016 50th Golden Anniversary Season. Fortier will conduct the String Orchestra. Neptune, Reuter and Ellenberger will be the soloists performing music by Mozart, J.S. Bach, Cionek and Tchaikovsky. There will be dancing to the waltzes of Johann Strauss immediately following the concert. The String Orchestra will perform two entirely different programs on July 29 and July 31. An optional pre-concert buffet dinner will be offered at the club beginning at 6 p.m.
Hosting two tours of Road Scholars July 10-15 and July 17-22 will add an exciting new dimension to the 2016 Festival. In addition to attending six concerts, the groups of music lovers will be engaged in 10 lecture/live discussions with festival artists.
Regular tickets are $25, and student tickets are $15. Pops, jazz and gala are $45. Opera tickets are $35, $45, $50 and $80. All tickets entitle the purchaser to a reserved seat. The pre-concert dinner price, $45, includes tax and gratuity. A season subscription for $350 saves 20 percent off the single reserved ticket price, as well as entrée to rehearsals, lecture-demonstrations and a private performance.
For tickets and information, write Bar Harbor Music Festival, 741 West End Ave., Suite 4-B, New York, N.Y. 10025-6222; call 212-222-1026; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.barharbormusicfestival.org.