Embrace the Human Experience at La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest

La Jolla Music Society’s annual SummerFest returns to The Conrad, bringing the finest musicians in the world to La Jolla for four weeks of exciting concerts. Music Director Inon Barnatan, returning in his sixth year, has created an exciting program titled “Inside Stories.”

“This year, the festival becomes an amazing, colorful canvas, bringing to life stories, emotions, and the experiences that make us human, all through the power of music,” Barnatan shares.

“With an incredible lineup of artists from around the world, we’re diving straight into stories that cover everything life throws at us—be it resilience, heartbreak, love, scandal, or victory.”

The Finest Musicians and Performance Artists Await

La Jolla will host some of the finest musicians and performance artists from around the globe, including the much-anticipated debuts of the sensational vocal group VOCES8, guitarist Sean Shibe, and conductor Ludovic Morlot.

We’ll also see the return of beloved artists like Augustin Hadelich, Tessa Lark, Alisa Weilerstein, Anthony McGill, Paul Watkins, and James Ehnes, among others.

Following his widely acclaimed debut at SummerFest last year, British composer Thomas Adès comes back as the composer-in-residence.

He’ll be premiering new works, showing off his talents as both a pianist and a conductor, and taking over The Baker-Baum Concert Hall for a special evening he has curated.

SummerFest 2024 also sees the return of the Synergy Initiative, a series co-produced by Inon Barnatan and Clara Wu Tsai, investor and philanthropist.

The series invites top creators of music, dance, spoken word, and visual arts to collaborate across their different art forms and produce performances that inspire audiences in unexpected and powerful ways.

Opening both the festival and the Synergy Series will be a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, conducted by Thomas Adès.

This performance will feature stunning visuals created by The Paper Cinema, a British puppetry group that will present live manipulation of specially-created paper figures in front of a camera, projected in real-time, along with live illustration and shadow puppetry.

The Synergy Initiative also includes jazz pianist Dan Tepfer performing a mesmerizing blend of jazz improvisation with algorithmic composition, where the piano interacts with visualizations and automated responses, creating a unique, live conversation between musician and technology.

Finally, building on the success of their “Counterpoint” program, the Synergy Series will pair pianist Conrad Tao with dancer Caleb Teicher for a newly commissioned evening, celebrating the dialogue between tap dance and classical music.

La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2024

All concerts, unless otherwise noted, will be held in The Baker-Baum Concert Hall at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla, under the direction of Music Director Inon Barnatan.

Opening Night: A Deal with the Devil
Synergy Initiative
Friday, July 26, 7:30 PM

Step into the spellbinding world of The Soldier’s Tale by Stravinsky, the classic tale of a soldier’s pact with the devil reimagined in an electrifying new production conducted by Thomas Adès, featuring hand-drawn animation, live puppetry, and powerful storytelling by the groundbreaking company The Paper Cinema.

It will be an opening night like no other—a truly magical evening of devilish delights!

La Jolla Music Society's Summerfest

Danse Macabre
Saturday, July 27, 7:30 PM

Experience an evening of haunting melodies and mystical dance, from Ysaÿe’s and Ravel’s intense narratives to the whimsical charm of Butler’s Roald Dahl-inspired “Dirty Beasts” and Adès’ spirited “Catch.”

The program culminates with Schubert’s profound “Death and the Maid,” weaving together an unforgettable tapestry of music that oscillates between the ethereal, the playful, and the deeply moving.

Passions and Storms
Sunday, July 28, 3 PM

Janáček’s “Kreutzer Sonata” Quartet, inspired by Tolstoy’s tale of jealousy and marital discord set against the backdrop of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, pairs with Composer-in-Residence Thomas Adès. Adès performs his evocative The Tempest suite alongside these deeply passionate works.

Midweek Masterworks: Amadeus
Wednesday, July 31, 7 PM

Amadeus comes alive as excerpts from Peter Shaffer’s iconic play are paired with Mozart’s sublime “Gran Partita,” blending dramatic readings with ethereal music for a captivating portrayal of Mozart’s genius.

Takeover @ The Baker-Baum with Thomas Adès
Thursday, August 1, 6 PM & 8:30 PM

This “takeover” concert, curated by renowned composer Thomas Adès, showcases him as composer, teacher, pianist, and conductor, and includes the U.S. premiere of “Forgotten Dances” with international guitar sensation Sean Shibe.

Baroque Fantasia
Friday, August 2, 7:30 PM

A journey through the Baroque era’s most imaginative and whimsical works, featuring Telemann’s Don Quixote Suite and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, capturing the essence of storytelling through music.

Baroque Fantasia

Saturday, August 3, 7:30 PM

This concert unites the poignant Mendelssohn siblings’ works—Fanny’s unduly neglected remarkable work and Felix’s stirring String Quartet, a reaction to her early passing—with compositions by artists silenced or oppressed during WWII.

It embodies the spirit of perseverance and the unbreakable will of the human spirit through music.

Sunday, August 4, 3 PM

This varied program blends the elegance of Bach’s Suite for Marimba, the passionate tangos of Piazzolla, the neoclassical charm of Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky’s most beloved ballet, offering a rich tapestry of stories told through dance.

Midweek Masterworks: Mozart & Pärt
Wednesday, August 7, 7 PM

“Mozart & Pärt” presents a sublime interplay between Mozart’s intricate “Dissonance” Quartet, embodying classical harmony with moments of striking discord, and Arvo Pärt’s minimalist, spiritual compositions.

This concert explores how their contrasting sounds complement each other, creating a deeply reflective and harmonious dialogue across time.


Jazz @ The JAI: The Brandee Younger Trio
Thursday, August 8, 6 PM & 8:30 PM

The New York Times says 2021 GRAMMY nominee Brandee Younger has “almost single-handedly made a persuasive argument for the harp’s role in contemporary jazz.” See this jazz harp sensation and her trio up close in the intimate surroundings of the cabaret-style space.

Friday, August 9, 7:30 PM

This concert unfolds as a heartfelt tribute through the intimate language of chamber music, featuring Bach’s reflective early cantata, selections by VOCES8 spanning several centuries, and Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio, a musical note of gratitude to his most devoted patron.

This concert embodies a journey of thankfulness, from Baroque introspection to Classical exuberance, celebrating the enduring human spirit of appreciation and connection.

La Jolla Music Society's Summerfest

In Loving Memory
Sunday, August 11, 3 PM

This program offers a poignant homage to remembrance and tribute through music.

Ravel’s melodic Duo for Violin and Cello, which honors his mentor Claude Debussy; Arensky’s powerful Piano Trio, written in memory of beloved Russian cellist Karl Davidoff; and Fauré’s sublime Requiem, a profound reflection on the passage of life and the peace of the afterlife.

Midweek Masterworks: Notes on a Scandal
Wednesday, August 14, 7 PM

A musical exploration of passion—and the madness, jealousy, and ecstasy it can inspire. From Gesualdo’s murderous heart to Debussy’s sordid affair to Franck’s torrid infatuation, “Notes on a Scandal” exposes the dangerous (but melodious!) consequences of love gone wrong.

Synergy Initiative: Jazz @ The JAI
Dan Tepfer, Natural Machines
Thursday, August 15, 6 PM & 8:30 PM

Dan Tepfer explores in music the intersection between natural and mechanical processes, improvising at the piano and interacting both musically and visually in real time with computer-written programs.

Enjoy a live performance of his acclaimed album Natural Machines, an innovative, groundbreaking performance that marries sound and vision like no other.

Synergy Initiative: Counterpoint II
World premiere, commissioned by La Jolla Music Society
Friday, August 16, 7:30 PM

A dynamic exploration of movement and music, this collaboration celebrates the dialogue between tap dance and classical music, offering a rhythmically electrifying performance experience.

Now with an expanded range of instrumentation, the Synergy series presents the world premiere of the latest collaboration between Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher, Counterpoint II.

La Jolla Music Society's Summerfest

California Dreamin’
Saturday, August 17, 7:30 PM

Conrad Tao delves into Rachmaninoff’s Californian years, highlighting his relationship with the American songbook before an exploration of composers past and present who have shaped California’s unique cultural tapestry.

This journey through California’s rich artistic legacy showcases the diverse influences and inspirations found within its vibrant landscape, from its pioneering composers to the myriad of stories that have been woven under its expansive skies.

Midweek Masterworks: Instrumental Stories
Wednesday, August 21, 7 PM

This concert highlights Brahms’ String Sextet No. 1, brought to life through musicians’ personal stories and the rich histories of their instruments.

It features Bartók’s Contrasts, a vibrant fusion of classical and jazz commissioned by Benny Goodman, and Michi Wiancko’s Lullaby for the Transient, a meditative piece on immigration.

Together, these performances weave a tapestry of personal and historical narratives, offering a deeply engaging exploration of music’s power to tell stories.

The Road to Victory
Friday, August 23, 7:30 PM

This powerful concert traces a path from adversity to triumph, spotlighting Beethoven’s “Serioso” Quartet and Bridge’s Cello Sonata, both echoing the turmoil and resolve of wartime, alongside Coleridge-Taylor’s Romantic Clarinet Quintet, a testament to overcoming societal barriers.

La Jolla Music Society

Finale: A Song and Dance
Saturday, August 24, 7:30 PM

This concert brings the festival to a vibrant close, featuring an eclectic mix of pieces that celebrate the joy of music.

From Paul Schoenfield’s lively Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano to the pastoral serenity of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and the rhythmic vitality of Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story, concluding with Dvořák ’sss uplifting Serenade for Strings.

This finale showcases the power of music to unite, inspire, and exhilarate, offering a fittingly triumphant end to the musical journey.

Free Public Activities and Inspiring Musical Narratives

LJMS will host 50 free Learning and Engagement activities from July 26 to August 24, 2024. These public activities include Open Rehearsals, Artist Lounges, Encounters, Coaching Workshops, and Musical Preludes.

Curated by SummerFest Music Director and pianist Inon Barnatan, the festival themed “Inside Stories” features 21 performances over four weeks, exploring narratives of resilience, heartbreak, love, scandal, and triumph.

Eight new Fellowship Artists will participate in a four-week residency, offering audiences opportunities to follow their progress and interact with them through Coaching Workshops, Fellowship Artist Spotlight Encounters, and Musical Preludes, fostering connections with these emerging musicians.

All education events are free but space is limited and advance registration is required for some events. Register here.

See you there!

La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest subscriptions are available now. A complete subscription for all 17 concerts in The Baker-Baum Concert Hall is $1,249 or $1,413 depending on seat location. Partial subscription series and compose-your-own packages will be made available later in the spring.

Single tickets are now on sale and range from $30 to $115.

Tickets and more information are available at the La Jolla Music Society box office, by phone at 858 459-3728, and online here.

See you there, San Diego!

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