Festival Season Returns to the Hudson Valley | Events | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Aside from a few productions last summer, limited in scope by COVID—kudos to the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice for its drive-in performance of “Tosca”—the pandemic shut down the region’s vibrant festival season. After a year in mothballs, festival producers are poised and ready to offer world-class programming this summer that’s scaled back for safety but full to bursting with creativity, enthusiasm, and flair.

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

Normally, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival produces plays in rotating repertory, doing one play on Friday night and then another on Saturday night, and so on, up to five shows a summer. This year, because of safety concerns, the festival is offering two plays, performed sequentially. First up: “The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington” by James Ijames is a searing contemporary play about the lasting legacy of slavery in America. This will be followed by Shakespeare’s late masterpiece, “The Tempest,” directed by Ryan Quinn. This will be the festival’s final season on the grounds of Boscobel in Garrison, where the company has been in residence for 34 years in an open-air tent overlooking the Hudson. Beginning in 2022, HVSF will move to the company’s first permanent home just down the road in Phillipstown.


The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer retreat in the Berkshires is back in business after its COVID hiatus in 2020, bringing, as usual, a lawn-friendly mix of pop, classical, jazz, and Broadway. Holding forth from the magnificent Koussevitzky Music Shed in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, this year’s lineup includes returning festival faves like James Taylor (8/31), John Williams Film Night with the composer conducting alongside Keith Lockhart (8/13), Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (8/06), and performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra—accompanied by acclaimed soloists like Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell—throughout the summer.


With its state-of-the-art, open-air pavilion theater and 100 acres of trails and grounds, PS21 in Chatham is especially well equipped to adapt to safe and socially distanced programming. The performing arts center’s summer season commences Memorial Day weekend with the first installment of its summer Modern Opera Fest. The opening program, which runs May 29-30, features two performances by the Heartbeat Opera company of “The Extinctionist,” a commission developed in residency at PS21 that addresses the question of having a child in a world threatened by global warming. A full season follows, with performances by the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Escher String Quartet, among many others.

Maverick Concerts

Founder Hervey White called it his “music chapel.” Over 100 years later, this open-air rustic wooden hall still stands, nestled in the woods outside the village of Woodstock, now one of the longest running chamber music festivals in the nation. The festival has hosted a number of musical premiers over the course of the last century, most notably the 1952 debut of composer John Cage’s provocative 4’33”. For its 2021 season, Maverick Concerts will be showcasing nine weekends of chamber music performances from the world’s finest ensembles, in its historic 1916 Concert Hall, from July 18 through September 12.

Jacob’s Pillow

Situated within a National Historic Landmark District in the Western Massachusetts farm town of Becket, Jacob’s Pillow is a dance center, school, and performance space built in 1931 by modern dance pioneers Ted Shawn and his wife Ruth St. Denis. Summers bring Jacob’s Pillow’s annual dance festival, a premier international event that draws 80,000 visitors yearly and presents a rich and highly varied calendar of dance performances that take in old and contemporary styles and traditions from around the world. This summer, the festival will offer a hybrid of in-person and virtual events, including performances, lectures, films, exhibits, and talks with artist talks.

Bard SummerScape and Music Festival

Bard College’s celebrated SummerScape festival will be back this July and August. The seven-week summit of opera, concerts, dance, cabaret, and film culminates with the Bard Music Festival, which this year centers around influential French composer, conductor, and teacher Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979). Associated arts events will take place at the Annandale-on-Hudson campus’s Fisher Center and seasonal Spiegeltent, as the program offers lectures and presentations on Boulanger’s life and the world that surrounded her. Highlights include the world premiere of “I was waiting for the echo of a better day,” a new commission from Bard’s Fisher Center Choreographer-in-Residence Pam Tanowitz and Bernstein Award-winning composer Jessie Montgomery.

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