V.com weekend vote: What is your favorite outdoor classical music venue?

July 31, 2021, 11:01 PM · Concerts are finally beginning again, after the long and depressing days of no-concerts during the pandemic.

Outdoor venues are actually the safest places to hold concerts, as we still think about COVID safety. Happily enough, it's summer, and there are all kinds of outdoor venues that serve as home to classical music concerts.

Bravo Vail
Vail's Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater - home of the Bravo! Vail Festival.

Just a week ago I visited the Bravo! Vail Summer Music Festival, which was going strong in Colorado. This made me think of the many outdoor summer music venues across the United States and the world. I've been lucky enough to visit a good number of them, to play in quite a few, and to enjoy some great concerts.

For example, as a child I very often went to see the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center.

In college, I have a vivid memory of lying on a picnic blanket, watching the trees while listening to the Chicago Symphony play Mahler's First Symphony at Ravinia. And of course, I can't forget seeing Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony at Aspen many years go - as well as Augustin Hadelich more recently. Closer to my current home is the Hollywood Bowl, which very happily has plenty of Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts this summer, including ones with violinists Randall Goosby, and later in August, Anne Akiko Meyers.

I'll be hard-pressed to name a favorite outdoor concert venue!

But that's exactly what I'm asking you to do. I've listed some of the biggies in the vote, but I recognize that there are many more venues, including ones outside the U.S., that I was not able to list. Please participate in the vote, and if you would like to name another venue check "somewhere else." Then please tell us about your favorite outdoor classical venue or venues. Do you have any particularly memorable performances that you experienced at an outdoor venue? Which venues do you find the most appealing? Do you like to sit on the lawn and take a picnic, or sit under a shell? Any great stories of being completely rained out? Have you been able to make it to any outdoor summer concerts this year?


August 1, 2021 at 09:29 AM · I’ve never been to any of those listed. My favourite is the band stand in my local park!

August 1, 2021 at 11:14 AM · Ravinia is the only one on the list that I visited -- several times. It was great. I don't go there anymore, since I'm a long distance from it now. I grew up and went to school in the Chicago metro area and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Interlochen, not far from my former town of Traverse City, MI, is another venue I went to several times during my high school years. It was likewise memorable. Fair weather each time -- didn't get rained out.

August 1, 2021 at 01:44 PM · Vienna.

August 1, 2021 at 02:59 PM · I vote none of the above. Here is why. What happens in the summer in Boston's musical life? The musicians move out to Tanglewood, probably several times forth and back. In their cars of course; there is no public transit. So the audience, mostly from the Boston area, moves out to the western end of the state as well, also in cars, except for the few who own airplanes.

And what is the gain out of all this CO2? A performance that sounds not even close to as good as it would in the Symphony Hall, one of the best venues in the world. Such a waste!

August 1, 2021 at 05:43 PM · I haven't been to many outdoor venues or I might have a clear favorite. That said, I prefer the intimacy of an indoor concert, even if there are thousands of people sitting around me. When the lights go down, I can concentrate on what's happening on stage.

August 1, 2021 at 07:29 PM · This conversation is about musical venues, not politics. Comments discouraging or opposing vaccination will be deleted.

August 1, 2021 at 08:17 PM · kirstenbosch, there are sunday afternoon concerts of light music. I used to walk up from the university to the contour path and then around and down into kirstenbosch botantical garden, I always seem to get there just as it was finishing. Yes, I work sundays even in holidays...

August 1, 2021 at 10:32 PM · I second the band stand venue (things like the Naumburg Bandshell in NYC and the Hatch Shell in Boston) - I find that there's something kind of charming about having these spaces IN the city itself (even if it means occasional sirens and car horns)

August 2, 2021 at 12:02 PM · I went with Grant Park because I spent an incredible evening there almost 30 years ago. Judy Collins was the soloist and my husband was conducting. Collins had the audience in the palm of her hand! I felt like I was at an intimate soiree with 1,000 of my closest friends. It was one of those magical times that probably would never have occurred inside a concert hall. Being outside on a beautiful Chicago evening was key.

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