Mark Gresham | 31 MAY 2021
Today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembering and honoring American military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties while serving in the Armed Forces of the United states. Originally known Decoration Day, it is observed on the last Monday of May, although common practice is to set aside the entire weekend before it for civic, cultural, community and family events.
Memorial Day weekend is also the civic and cultural beginning of summer for Americans despite the fact that the astronomical Summer Solstice doesn’t take place until late in June. As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions begin to ease (more or less, depending on what state you are in), many people are anxious to get back to “normal” and even travel, with some of them seeking to attend summer music festivals which feature classical music and or opera.
While I’m not going to tell you how to decide about your personal and family health and safety, I do find it worthwhile to offer a list of twenty such festivals taking place this year in twenty different states, in which the stated span of concert dates do not begin until after today is over. (That’s why Spoleto Festival USA is not in this list, as it has already begun.)
One of the festivals listed remains virtual only this year. All others are live and intend to follow Center for Disease Control guidelines for pandemic safety, and some have additional guideline beyond that which they will follow.
Each listing includes festival name, city and state, artistic director(s), date span and website link. Some are famous, others not, some have deep connections to Atlanta and some of its musicians who participate in them. They are spread out across the nation, again only one chosen per state, and only 20 states represented.
Obviously not comprehensive, but never intended to be. A few very well-known festivals are clearly missing, due to the one-per-state criteria. (Thus some people states like in New York, Ohio and California may bristle at some of the omissions, but there is also a majority of other states which are absent entirely. As with all such lists, no one will be entirely happy.)
Here they are, my chosen 20, for your consideration, listed alphabetically by state: