Edinburgh International Festival
4th to 28th August
If the BBC Proms is all-consuming, then Edinburgh is a carefully curated selection of highlights. The concerts balance much-loved local ensembles like the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (below) and the Dunedin Consort, with starry visiting musicians. Piano music is well served this year, with appearances from the mercurial Russian virtuoso Mikhail Pletnev, and the eloquent Andreas Haefliger. Don’t miss Ivan Fischer’s characterful Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Bergen Philharmonic, who bring Norway’s most famous piano concerto (Grieg’s passionate A minor concerto) with them. Lovers of vocal music will enjoy two of the world’s greatest basses: Bryn Terfel and René Pape.
Totnes, Devon, 29th July to 26th August
The Dartington Festival has always been a cradle for cutting-edge classical music, hosting masterclasses, musical courses, operas and workshops of all kinds, with at least three concerts a day in the Great Hall. This year you can hear sopranos Emma Kirkby and Carolyn Sampson, the award-winning young Heath Quartet and the festival’s own artistic director, pianist Joanna MacGregor, who will play music by John Cage and Stevie Wishart.
BBC Proms: A Patchwork Passion
Royal Albert Hall, London, 20th August
As part of their Reformation celebrations the BBC Proms is dedicating a day to Passions—Lutheranism’s greatest musical form. The centrepiece is Patchwork Passion—a new musical collage of movements from nearly five centuries of Passion settings. There will be music from Handel, Bach and Mendelssohn as well as James MacMillan and Sofia Gubaidulina— works from different perspectives, but that share Christianity’s central story.