Two hundred professional artists from around the globe will gather in the Brainerd-Lakes area this summer for the 12th annual Lakes Area Music Festival.

Featuring performances of chamber and orchestral music, opera, and ballet, the 2020 season will run July 31 through Aug. 23, with over 60 public events. The Festival’s continued commitment to bringing these artists out of the concert hall and into the community means a summer full of inspiration, cultural exchange and world-class art.

The Lakes Area Music Festival begins July 31 with its biggest event of the year: the Musicians’ Gala. In this opening celebration, themed A Night in the Tropics, maestro Steven Mulligan of the Atlanta Symphony and the LAMF orchestra will be joined by soprano Anna Dennis and baritone John Taylor Ward in everything from Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific to the sweltering sounds of South American samba.

The opening weekend continues at full tilt with educational concerts designed for adults and kids alike. On Aug. 1, maestro Mulligan leads an in-depth lecture with orchestral excerpts on Claude Debussy’s life and career, followed by a performance of his symphonic poem La Mer. Then, on  Aug. 2, the orchestra will present a family-friendly, hour-long concert featuring Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, made famous in Disney’s Fantasia.

On Aug. 5, Minnesota-native pianist Kenny Broberg, prizewinner at both the Tchaikovsky and Van Cliburn competitions, will make his Festival debut with chamber music favorites, including Schubert’s “Trout Quintet.” Other works will include Beethoven’s Octet for Winds and select German lieder sung by British soprano Anna Dennis.

On Aug. 8 and 9, Avi Stein, professor of harpsichord at the Juilliard School, will lead an adaptation of Rameau’s 1743 opera-ballet, Platée. A continued partnership with the Amsterdam-based dance collective, House of Makers, will use dance to tell this hilarious and heartrending tale of an ugly water nymph seeking love in all the wrong places. The performance will showcase world-premiere choreography by Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair with dancers from Oregon Ballet Theater, in collaboration with the LAMF design team.

Aug. 12 will offer another Wednesday of chamber music, featuring Queen Elizabeth Competition and Avery Fischer Career Grant winner, pianist Henry Kramer. The first half will be a piano solo recital, featuring Maurice Ravel’s kaleidoscopic Gaspard de la nuit, alongside works by Adams, Debussy, Janacek, and Liszt. Kramer will be joined by flautist Emi Ferguson and cellist Austin Fisher in George Crumb’s The Voice of the Whale.

Opera is always a highlight of the Festival calendar, which this year will feature its most ambitious production to date: Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. On Aug. 14 and 16, soprano Felicia Moore and bass-baritone Kyle Albertson, both coming directly from acclaimed debut seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, will lead an all-star cast and join the Festival orchestra under the baton of Christian Reif.

A chamber orchestra concert Aug. 19 features long-time Festival favorite, harpist Emily Levin of the Dallas Symphony. In addition to the Glière Harp concerto featuring Levin, maestro Reif and the festival orchestra will present Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony No. 3.

The finale concerts of LAMF 2020 will take place Aug. 22 and 23, also under the leadership of Christian Reif. The program will consist of Richard Wagner’s Forest Murmurs and Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes and will culminate in Jean Sibelius’ second symphony.

In addition to the Festival’s series of concerts, the Lakes Area Music Festival will host numerous social events where musicians and audience members can interact.

Cabernet and Cabaret will take place Aug. 7 at Dennis Drummond Winery, featuring the opera cast in classic musical theater selections.  

George Frideric Handel’s Water Music will be performed outdoors at the Gull Lake Yacht Club Aug. 15. Accessible on the Southeast side of Gull Lake, the concert will be accessible by boat and enjoyed from the dock or lawn.  

Other events include  downtown Brainerd Block Party Aug. 7 where Festival musicians hit the streets with classical pops; Musician’s Night Out Aug. 21 at Roundhouse Brewery features the LAMF roster sight-reading chamber music; and the Brewery Bash (also at Roundhouse) celebrates the close of the season, immediately following the final performance Aug. 23. Also,following each evening concert of the Festival season, musicians and audience members will have the opportunity to gather at local wine bar Prairie Bay for an Afterglow reception.

A high priority, the Lakes Area Music Festival seeks to foster the next generation of world-class artists through two fellowship programs. As an example, a String Quartet Residency offers ensembles at the beginning of their professional career with opportunities to hone their craft through independent study while bringing their artistry to communities around Minnesota. Selected for the 2020 residency, the Dallas-based Thalea String Quartet will perform ten concerts statewide and carry out over 20 community outreach events.

This season the organization has introduced a new Vocal Fellowship program. Drawn from the top conservatories and training programs in the nation, Fellows will work one-on-one with our team of directors and coaches, while participating in productions and performances alongside our world-renowned roster of singers.

The Lakes Area Music Festival is committed to enhancing understanding and appreciation of classical music. For elementary-aged children July 27-31, Explore Music! will again be a hands-on creative learning day camp for grades K-5; at the end of the week, they’ll have a chance to share what they have discovered prior to our orchestral concert. Alexander Peña of Hawaii’s ‘Iolani Institute will lead a team of teaching artists from around the country.

Multiple open rehearsals will be held, inviting audiences to witness the first rehearsal of each performance, including an informal Q&A discussion with a featured musician. Most concerts are preceded by a 20-minute pre-concert lecture given by a conductor or LAMF artistic director. In preparation for the LAMF production of The Flying Dutchman, an Opera Talk and Tea lecture will feature a Wagner scholar discussing the legendary figure Richard Wagner and what led him to compose his first opera.

LAMF programming also strives to make the arts accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status or previous experience with classical music. An outreach initiative comprised of over 30 events will bring LAMF artists to communities who can benefit the most. These activities will include performances at senior living facilities, a creative songwriting workshop with victims of domestic abuse, concerts at the Crow Wing County Jail, and more.

For more information about the upcoming season, visit


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