Say it with us—“the hills are alive with the sound of the music”—all right, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way . . . Anchored against the spectacular panorama of Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Brevard Music Center once again presents its annual Summer Music Festival. A perpetual crowd-pleaser for jazz, bluegrass, theatre, pop, opera, classical, and contemporary music buffs, the fest hosts 80-plus concerts in diverse venues from June–August. In addition to a prime program of renowned performers, audiences will hear the BMC heart at work via recitals showcasing institute faculty and this summer’s gifted class of students. Here are our picks for your listening (and mountain escaping) pleasure.
The Manhattan Transfer
Though there have been two versions of the quartet since 1969, the Manhattan Transfer’s respect as one of the most successful and influential jazz vocal groups has remained constant. With a full catalog of a cappella, swing, pop, and vocalese savvy to their name, the Grammy Award–winning ensemble was inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame in 1998. Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. Sat, June 23, 7:30pm. $22-$73.
Steep Canyon Rangers with Orchestra
Hailing from nearby Asheville, the men of Steep Canyon Rangers were tapped as 2011’s International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers of the Year and are frequent collaborators with comedian-turned-banjo-pro Steve Martin. Their latest album, Out in the Open, was released this year and peaked at number one on the Billboard U.S. Bluegrass charts. Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. Tues, June 26, 7:30pm. $42-$125.
The Shanghai Quartet
Comprised of four classically trained string musicians—violist Honggang Li, cellist Nicholas Tzavaras, first violinist Weigang Li, and second violinist Yi-Wen Jiang—the Shanghai Quartet was founded at China’s Shanghai Conservatory and has travelled extensively throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Australia, sharing the standards of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and other master composers. Porter Center—Brevard College. Mon, July 2; Tues, July 3, 7:30pm. $12-$28.
Mike Mills Rock Violin Concerto
As a founding member of alt-rock band R.E.M., multitalented musician Mike Mills is credited with penning many of the band’s top singles, including “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and “At My Most Beautiful.” Mills will join forces with longtime friend, esteemed violinist and BMC alum Robert McDuffie for a memorable rock-meets-refined fusion of tunes. Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium Sat, July 7, 7:30pm. $28-$59.
Season Finale: Bernstein’s Mass
For 2018, BMC will present a “festival within a festival,” honoring the lifetime achievements and musical contributions of Leonard Bernstein. Live presentations of the composer’s most unforgettable scores—“West Side Story” and “Candide,” to name a few—will be performed throughout the three-month run, culminating in this theatrical grand finale starring the Brevard Music Center Orchestra, artistic director Keith Lockhart, and other brilliant musicians. Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. Sun, Aug 5, 3pm. $32-$77.
Bela Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Concert
This jazz and bluegrass musician’s career has spanned more than four decades, highlighted by guest spots with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, festival appearances, and multiple Grammy Awards. Recognized as one of the world’s foremost banjo artists, Fleck will also host the first annual Banjo Camp at Brevard Music Center this year. Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. Sat, Aug 18, 7:30pm. $33-$68.
To check out more performances during Brevard Music Center’s Summer Music Festival, visit brevardmusic.org.