Brevard Music Center Institute & Festival
June 25-August 8
What happens when you take 400 talented students from across the nation and around the world, put them under the mentorship of working professionals and 65 instructors, and then throw them all on a stage together (after lots of practice, of course)? Head out to the Brevard Music Center (BMC) Institute and hear the melodies unfold for yourself. Under the artistic direction of Keith Lockhart, an alumnus and conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, these fresh talents share the stage with renowned professionals to perform 80 public concerts. Best of all, the gifted pupils play a variety, so there’s something appealing to every music connoisseur. Listen for the light classics of Mozart and Mahler performed by violinist/alumnus Robert McDuffie or enjoy a taste of opera when the group presents Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. If you’d rather get into the mountain spirit, check out Grammy award-winning bluegrass faves Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder when they take the stage on July 29. BMC offers a number of ticket packages, including the Chamber Music Series, Conductor’s Circle, and Summer Sample. —Evans Craddock
Days, times, & prices vary. www.brevardmusic.org
July 9 & 10
They’ll be pickin’, and you’ll be grinnin’ at this 13th annual roots music festival, featuring more than 20 folk and bluegrass bands at the Historic Cove Street School, a WPA-era landmark in the rural Cove Creek community. Look for longtime favorites like Doc Watson and The Carolina Chocolate Drops, as well as Asheville-based Hay Sugar, Swiss-born Kruger Brothers, and many more.
Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. $55 two-day pass; children under 13 are free. www.covecreek.net
Descend on the streets of downtown Asheville with more than 350,000 like-minded music lovers for the 32nd annual Bele Chere. The three-day musical extravaganza features local and regional musicians with sounds ranging from folk, blues, and rock to jazz and country on four stages. Also, check out the vendor booths for local art as well as craft beers, wine, and food.
Friday, noon-10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Free. belecherefestival.com
Music on the Mountaintop
August 27 & 28
With an eclectic lineup of bands and a goal of increasing environmental stewardship, this festival offers both entertainment and education. Sam Bush, Keller Williams, and Railroad Earth headline alongside Toubab Krewe, Acoustic Syndicate, Snake Oil Medicine Show, and Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Plan on thinking “green” at this event: in addition to watching performances on a solar stage, audiences are encouraged to carpool and use shuttles, drop off canned food items at the food drive, and even participate in the River Clean Up on August 27th.
Friday, 3-11 p.m. & Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. $70 two-day pass. www.musiconthemountaintop.com
Summertime should not be spent at school, but an exception can be made if there’s a concert involved. This year, two WNC universities offer a plethora of music and cultural events to keep the dog days interesting. If you’re hoping to save a few bucks, UNCA’s free Concerts on the Quad bring a wide variety of musical styles to outdoor stages. Every Monday beginning at 7 p.m., the “green” serves as a stage for performers, including blues musician Cool John Ferguson, E.L.M. Collective, Pan Jive, April Verch, and One Leg Up. Pack a basket with goodies, bring friends or family, and you’ve got yourself a Monday evening that’s worth writing home about.
Further up the mountain (and the pay scale), Appalachian State is hosting a variety of performing artists (music, dance, theater) as well as visual arts and film during its annual An Appalachian Summer Festival. This season will see the return of the Eastern Festival Orchestra and the Golden Dragon Acrobats, while welcoming Ralph Stanley, Amy Sedaris, Patti LuPone, and Blood, Sweat & Tears to the festival lineup. So whether you’re enjoying a lawn series on a blanket or an indoor concert stageside, these universities have your entertainment, and budget, covered. —Viktorija Krulikas
UNCA’s Concerts on the Quad
June 14-July 12, Mondays, 7-8:30 p.m.
An Appalachian Summer Festival
June 27-July 30
Days, times, & prices vary. www.appsummer.org
Shindig on the Green
July 3, 10, 17, 31; August 14, 21, 28; & September 4
As the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival’s relaxed, outdoor companion, Shindig on the Green is a valuable venue for both musicians and audiences. Folks simply gather at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Saturday nights, sitting in lawn chairs and lying on blankets. Veteran and novice players alike bring their instruments to jam on the green or perform onstage. There’s no scheduled list of performers, though many are regulars, back for another session of informal music making. And new talent emerges every year. But the crowd knows exactly what style of entertainment to expect: big circle mountain dancing, clogging, bluegrass, traditional, and old-time string bands, plus ballad singers and storytellers. Stake out a spot, slip off your sandals, and join in the jamming. —Viktorija Krulikas
Saturdays, 7 p.m. Free. www.folkheritage.org
July 9-August 15
Still bummed that you missed Charles Wadsworth’s final Spoleto performance last year? Just head up to this festival, which is hosting the chamber music legend. With his entertaining lecture and more than 30 internationally acclaimed musicians performing solo works to large ensemble pieces, you’re sure to get your classical music fix. If staying thrifty this summer is high on your list, then pack a basket and a blanket and go to the Picnic Concert in Cashiers, where The Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet entertains free of charge.
Days, times & prices vary. www.h-cmusicfestival.org