Top Ten Refined U.S. Music Festivals

Cabrillo Festival, Santa Cruz, California
Enrico Chapela, Cabrillo Music Festival
Enrico Chapela, a Composer in Residence at the Cabrillo festival of Contemporary Music (Frank Hhler)

4. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz, Vail
"There is nothing predictable about Cabrillo," wrote a New York Times critic in describing this formidable festival dedicated to classical music by prominent and emerging living composers. Cabrillo takes place the first two weeks in August in venues in the charming oceanside town of Santa Cruz south of San Francisco.

Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony music director who was Musical America's 2009 Conductor of the Year, is in charge. She invites composers from all over the world to be in residence and presents premieres of their symphonic works in the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium as well as the Mission San Juan Bautista, all performed by top-tier orchestra and soloists. There are opportunities to meet the composers and listen to discussions that extol contemporary classics. The 2009 program features an orchestral tribute to the Grateful Dead and occurs on the anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death. Definitely not for old fogeys.


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