Get outside or get out of town. Both are fine options for Twin Cities classical music lovers. Or, if a nice air-conditioned concert sounds more like your cup of iced tea, consider catching some of what the Minnesota Orchestra is presenting at Orchestra Hall.
Here are some recommendations for getting your classical fix before seasons start in September.
Once there was Sommerfest, an annual collection of concerts at Orchestra Hall focusing upon Vienna of the late 18th and 19th centuries. This summer is something of a throwback, with Beethoven seizing the spotlight. Each weekend July 15-31, one of his symphonies and a piano work, courtesy of "creative partner" Jon Kimura Parker, will be presented. And the Moving Company has created "Immortal Beethoven," an original theatrical work about the composer (8 p.m. July 30). The orchestra caps the summer by accompanying a screening of the Disney animated classic "Fantasia" (7 p.m. Aug. 6, 2 p.m. Aug. 7). (July 15-Aug. 7; Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.; $28-$70; 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org.)
We also recommend that you check out the return of the International Day of Music, which features five stages of free classical and world music (and dance) in and around Orchestra Hall, culminating in the first full-orchestra Peavey Plaza concert since 2008. (Noon-midnight July 16.)
Minnesota Beethoven Festival
Founded in 2007, this three-week collection of concerts in Winona always boasts an impressive roster of international classical musicians. The festival's destination concert may be the King's Singers, with that renowned English ensemble performing music inspired by birdsong (3 p.m. July 10, Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels).
Other highlights include concerts by the Merz Trio, a group that's won every major North American competition for piano trios (7:30 p.m. Thursday); the Ariel Quartet, winner of America's top award for string quartets, the Cleveland Quartet Award (7:30 p.m. July 12); and a man Billboard magazine called "the global ambassador of Spanish guitar," Pablo Sáinz Villegas, a frequent collaborator with opera singer Placido Domingo (7:30 p.m. July 14). (Through July 17; St. Mary's University and Winona Middle School; $25; mnbeethovenfestival.org.)
Lakes Area Music Festival
Musicians from many of America's major orchestras and opera companies converge upon the Brainerd Lakes area for this annual four-week festival, which celebrates its 14th year. Highlights include a fully staged production of the Richard Strauss opera "Ariadne auf Naxos" (Aug. 12 & 14), pianist Natasha Paremski soloing on a Dmitri Shostakovich concerto (Aug. 17), and music director Christian Reif closing the festival by conducting Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony (Aug. 20-21). (July 29-Aug. 21; Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts, 702 S. 5th St., Brainerd; $20; lakesareamusic.org.)
If richly layered harmonies renew your spirit, you'll find some fine opportunities. Krila brings songs of its native Slovenia to town (4 p.m. July 10; Sundin Music Hall, 1531 Hewitt Av., St. Paul; $15; twincitiesslovenians.org/events/krila-concert). Fresh from belatedly celebrating its 25th anniversary with a host of alums, male vocal ensemble Cantus will perform four concerts of songs from Latin America (July 20-23 at four locations; $40-$5; cantussings.org).
The Summer Singers is a chamber choir of singers from many of the Twin Cities' top choirs that annually gathers to perform contemporary works (July 23-31 at four locations; free; summersingers.org). And, if you'd like something lighter yet larger-scale, the Oratorio Society of Minnesota's summer choir will perform a concert full of show tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein with soloists Bradley Greenwald and Sarah Lawrence (7:30 p.m. July 30; Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 S. 4th St., Mpls.; $15-$30, children under 12 free; oratorio.org).
Next week, the Minnesota Orchestra will present four free outdoor concerts featuring patriotic fare, as well as a bit of Dvorak, Beethoven and film music. The concerts will be presented at Plymouth's Hilde Performance Center (8:30 p.m. Wed.), the Lakefront Bandshell in Hudson, Wis. (7:30 p.m. Thu.), Minneapolis' Lake Harriet Band Shell (7:30 p.m. July 8), and at Lake Park Bandshell in Winona, as part of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival (8 p.m. July 9).
The Minnesota Sinfonia is presenting seven free outdoor concerts during July, the peak of its summer arriving when young violinist Charlotte Lee joins the orchestra for some Max Bruch (7 p.m. July 13, Como Lakeside Pavilion, St. Paul; 7:30 p.m. July 15, Lake Harriet Band Shell, Mpls.; mnsinfonia.org).
And, speaking of the Lake Harriet Band Shell, that's where the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra will perform concerts each Saturday and Sunday in July (7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 5:30 p.m. Sundays; free; mplspops.org).
Rob Hubbard is a Twin Cities classical music writer. Reach him at email@example.com.