Music Society plans for 30th chamber classics festival

La Jolla Music Society’s (LJMS) SummerFest turns 30 this year and is celebrating its pearl anniversary. Fittingly, the lineup of musicians performing Aug. 3-26 is studded with gems.

Among the glitterati is violin virtuoso Pinchas Zukerman, whose Zukerman Trio also featuring cellist Amanda Forsyth and pianist Angela Cheng will perform (Aug. 9) selections by Brahms, Dvorak, Gliere and Mendelssohn. Other luminaries include Latvian-born Mischa Maisky, making his SummerFest debut over two nights (Aug. 19-20) and performing all six of Bach’s cello suites, and Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, who’s also appearing at the seaside festival for the first time, on Aug. 24.

Altogether, more than 65 musicians will perform at SummerFest 2016. As usual, the festival is curated by Music Director Cho-Liang (Jimmy) Lin, whose own violin artistry will be heard throughout the three-plus weeks including on Aug. 5’s “A Bohemian Rhapsody” program. Concert venues will again be Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

In addition to the musicians new to the festival this year, 2016 will mark the first SummerFest for LJMS’s new president and artistic director, Kristin Lancino. The former artistic director for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and director of artistic planning at Carnegie Hall, Lancino calls overseeing SummerFest “a huge privilege.”

Lancino last fall succeeded Christopher Beach, now LJMS’s Theatre & Development consultant, closely involved with the ambitious Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center project on Fay Avenue. The future home of SummerFest and other LJMS concerts and events is slated to open by summer of 2018.

As such, Lancino has her eye not only on this summer’s festival but on the future. “With any festival there has to be an evolution, not a revolution,” she said. “We have to think about the next five to 10 years. What do we want to be then? And how does that integrate with The Conrad?”

In the meantime, SummerFest 2016 begins with its free “SummerFest Under the Stars” program on Aug. 3 at La Jolla Cove. The concert will include the San Diego Youth Symphony’s International Youth Symphony and the unpredictable string trio Time for Three, which performs everything from classical to hip-hop. What’s most important to Lancino, she said, about this outdoor event is its engagement with the community.

“It’s as much about sharing with the community as it is about great music,” Lancino said. “That’s a very important message from us.”

Mingling musical genres is a SummerFest tradition, and 2016 is no exception. Consider Aug. 17, when Cuban clarinetist/saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera takes the Sherwood Auditorium stage accompanied by violinist Andrew Wan, pianist Alex Brown, bassist Pablo Aslan, cellist Brook Speltz and New York City’s Escher String Quartet for a night when “Jazz Meets the Classics.”

The repertoire will feature two works by D’Rivera in addition to one composed by Aslan and Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 34.

Among concerts Lancino is looking forward to is “An Evening with Marc-Andre Hamelin,” whom she calls “a monster pianist who also composes.” This performance will be highlighted by the world premiere of Hamelin’s “New Work for Cello and Piano.”

The SummerFest grand finale is always a highlight, and this year’s features violinist Gil Shaham and James Conlon conducting the SummerFest Chamber Orchestra. That’ll be Aug. 26 in Sherwood Auditorium.

Speaking of which — if you happen to be in the lobby of the Sherwood during a SummerFest concert intermission and you notice a woman “completely engaged” in all the conversations, that’ll be LJMS’s Lancino. “I feel like I want to spend time at intermissions with the audience to hear their reactions,” she said.

— To view the complete SummerFest 2016 lineup and accompanying programming, visit ljms.org

La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2016

When: Aug. 3-26

Where: Various locations in La Jolla, including Sherwood Auditorium at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (700 Prospect St.) and Athenaeum Music & Arts Library (1008 Wall St.)

Tickets: Single-events $45-$75; season subscriptions $446-$860 at (858) 459-3728 or ljms.org

FreeSummerFest Under the Stars’ program: Aug. 3 at La Jolla Cove

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