Summer Arts Preview: Music

Exploring the season’s best in music by bike, train, boat and car

By Bike

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry might be back this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s the hottest ticket at Fenway Park. As country music fans know, that honor is likely to go to the Zac Brown Band’s two shows at the lyrical little bandbox on June 15-16. The group sold out seven straight Fenway shows over a three-year period, and they’re back for more this summer on their Down the Rabbit Hole Live tour. The nationwide swing, which stops at a dozen ballparks, supports last year’s Welcome Home album that debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The first two of 10 concerts at Fenway Park this season, it’s a must-see doubleheader.

By Boat

Boston gets considerably quieter when the college kids take summer break, but thanks to Berklee College of Music there’s still a little bit of noise. The college’s Summer in the City Concert Series features more than 400 performances at two dozen venues, including Spectacle Island. The Boston Harbor island hosts Sunday afternoon concerts from July to September with acts such as the Marcus Prince Trio. The Berklee-bred band, with students Marcus Prince, Santanio Jackson and Eric Fells, brings its jazz and R&B mix to the island on July 22.

By Car

Leonard Bernstein. Photo credit: Walter H. Scott

As if you actually needed a programming reason to visit Tanglewood this summer, the Bernstein Centennial Celebration on Aug. 25 is the culmination of the seasonlong fete of the late Leonard Bernstein, who was born in Lawrence in 1918. Former and present conductors such as Andris Nelsons, Keith Lockhart and John Williams take part in the concert gala, along with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Audra MacDonald and a number of other vocalists. The first half of the program showcases Bernsteins hits from musicals such as West Side Story, Candide and Serenade, while the second half includes Bernstein’s personal favorites from Mahler and Copland as well as a new piece from Williams. When the night finishes with Mahler’s Resurrection, you might just rise up out of your seat—or off your blanket—yourself.

By Train

Photo credit: David McClister

Rhiannon Giddens is a genius—there’s even proof. In October, the singer won one of MacArthur’s $625,000 Genius Grants and she has since lined up projects with orchestras, a ballet and the Smithsonian. But you can catch her brilliance in person on June 15 as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series at Boarding House Park. The lead singer of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, she’s recently turned out two solo albums, including last year’s Freedom Highway. That record was nominated for album of the year at the Americana Music Honors & Awards—even more evidence that the 41-year-old is wise beyond her years.


Summer Arts Preview: Music Q&A


Read our Summer Arts Preview Q&A with Boston Calling co-curator and the National’s Aaron Dessner on this year’s fest.



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