Melissa Reardon is the artistic director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival, which is celebrating its 30th season this summer. Photo by Lauren Desberg

Jennifer Elowitch, who founded the Portland Chamber Music Festival, envisioned the event as “an oasis.” Three decades later, the organizers still see it that way.

“Their dream was to create an oasis where they and their friends could collaborate and make music together,” said executive director Alice Kornhauser. “Coming out of the pandemic and with all the craziness that’s happening the world and in society, to be able to have these live, in-person, artistic, inspiring experiences does feel like an emotional and spiritual oasis.”

This summer will mark the 30th season for the festival. Elowitch, a violinist, spent years traveling around the Northeast to teach and perform. She decided to bring musicians to her home state and organized the first festival with the help of friends and family. Musicians stayed in sleeping bags, and Elowitch’s mom baked chocolate chip cookies for everyone.

“It was totally homegrown,” said Kornhauser.

Melissa Reardon, a violist based in New York and Massachusetts, found that familial feeling was still there years later when she performed at the festival.

“My very first impression of the festival that first summer was that feeling of being so taken care of and the friendliness and the collegiality of the musicians of the festival,” she said.


Reardon took over as artistic director in 2018. This summer, she looked for programming that would feel celebratory for this milestone.

“We like to do a mix every year with old friends and new friends, both with the artists we bring and the work that we showcase,” she said. “Each program has work that has never been performed at the festival or musicians who have never performed. I think that’s a pretty exciting mix of offerings this summer.”

Twenty artists will perform this summer in the festival, which always features four performances over two weekends in August.

The first, titled “First Impressions,” will be held Aug. 10 and will feature the music of two contemporaries in the late 1800s and early 1900s: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, an English composer who sought to integrate his African heritage into the classical tradition, and Maurice Ravel, who was considered France’s greatest living composer in his day.

The second, “Summer Dreams,” on Aug. 12 will be what the festival described as “an utterly delightful mini musical vacation” with works by Amy Beach, Arnold Bax, George Gershwin and Antonín Dvořák.

The third program, “The Kreutzer Connection,” on Aug. 17 will include three works that are inspired by each other: Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata, a Leo Tolstoy novella of the same same, and then a string quartet by Leoš Janáček.


The “Grand Finale” on Aug. 19 will end with Franz Schubert’s Octet, which Reardon said has “a symphonic feel.”

Outside of the main-stage shows, the festival will host a salon and social at a private home in Cape Elizabeth with informal performances by Reardon, Elowitch and Charles Overton, a harpist who performs both classical and jazz music. Overton, who was the first harpist accepted into the prestigious Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music, is one of the visiting artists this summer, and he will also perform a concert at Space in Portland on Aug. 11.

“I think we’ve been really exploring the ways that chamber music reaches out into different genres, and I think that’s something we’ve been doing more and more of,” said Reardon.

For more information and a full schedule, visit

The Ying Quartet performs the 2022 season opener in Studzinski Recital Hall on the campus of Bowdoin College. Photo by Niles Singer/Bowdoin International Music Festival

The Bowdoin International Music Festival is another summer mainstay.

This year, it will feature 20 main-stage concerts and nearly 100 free public events from June 26 to Aug. 4.


The ticketed concerts take place at either Studzinski Recital Hall on the Bowdoin campus or Crooker Theater at Brunswick High School. The first one is scheduled for June 26 with Imani Winds, a quintet known for adventurous programming and commissioning music from new voices.

Other events include a concert on July 14 that will feature Frank Huang, who has been the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic since 2015 and is also on the faculty at the Juilliard School, and another on Aug. 4 with Joyce Yang, who won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2005 at 19 years old.

“That’s a really cool opportunity for people in Maine to see someone here of that caliber,” said Dan Nitsch, the festival’s executive director.

The festival is also a music institute. Every year, 300 students come to Bowdoin to study chamber music and play in small ensembles. They have the opportunity to perform in free concerts on campus and in the community during their summer. This year saw a record number of applications – 1,300 – and Nitsch said students are often attracted to the program because it offers more performance opportunities than others.

Many of the guest artists and faculty were once students at the festival themselves.

“Almost every ensemble we invite back during the summer has at least one member who went to the festival as a student,” said executive director Dan Nitsch.


For ticketed concerts, guests can purchase a season pass for all 20, or a flex pass for either 12 or six concerts. Individual tickets will also be available.

Ticket information and the full schedule is available at


The Portland Symphony Orchestra will perform three shows outside in June and July at the Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach. On June 24, the orchestra will join a six-piece rock band for classic hits by Journey, Pat Benatar, Boston, Heart, Kansas, Stevie Nicks, The Electric Light Orchestra and others. The July 1 show will be “A Stars and Stripes Celebration” of American classics, and on July 8, the orchestra will perform “The Music of Harry Potter.” For more information, go to

The Portland Bach Experience aims to challenge preconceived notions about classical music with an annual festival, which will run from June 2-25. There are 22 ticketed and free events in locations from Sanford to Brunswick, ranging from concerts to BachBends Yoga to musical interludes at Bunker Brewing Co. in Portland. More information is available at

The Bach Virtuosi Festival, founded by violinist Lewis Kaplan, hosts concerts in intimate spaces, such as St. Luke’s Cathedral and Etz Chaim Synagogue in Portland. Seven shows are on the schedule from June 20-27, including a free show on June 23 at the Portland Museum of Art by young artists from the Juilliard School and Eastman School of Music. The full schedule and ticket information can be found online at

The Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival will take place at the Deertrees Theatre in Harrison. The 51st season will run on Tuesday evenings between July 11 and Aug. 8 and will include performances by a total of 24 musicians. The program also includes community concerts in New Hampshire and Connecticut and on Chebeague Island in Maine. For more information, visit

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