Find Something for Everyone at the NH Music Festival

The five-week fest offers classical music for all tastes

With a history dating back to the 1950s, you've probably heard of the New Hampshire Music Festival. But if you've never been — or if you're an old pro looking for another season of great shows — this year's fest is one you shouldn't miss. The festival is bigger and better than ever this year, with concerts spread across five weeks and multiple Granite State towns. From grand-scale orchestra performances to intimate chamber concerts and family programming, there is truly something for everyone at this year's New Hampshire Music Festival.

"The festival's core mission is to present fantastic classical music," says the festival's executive director, Deborah Leonard Kosits. But that doesn't mean a stuffy traditionalist attitude or a kid-free fest. "The challenge is presenting the core classical offerings in wonderful traditional interior spaces and broadening our offering" — to the outdoors, to families and young people, and to new venues.

After 20 years in residency at Plymouth State University, the festival expanded into Wolfeboro last year for a few Lakes Region concerts to accompany their Plymouth repertoire. This year, they're taking the partnership even further, with the full festival orchestra performing for the first time in both Plymouth and Wolfeboro.

"We're really creating Wolfeboro as our second home, and we're excited to build the audience down there," Kosits says. "Wolfeboro has had a historically wonderful classical music audience, and we’re looking forward to being a part of that community."

The fest will begin and end this year with major concerts in both cities. A "Natural Beauty"-themed performance kicks things off (on July 6 in Plymouth and July 8 in Wolfeboro) with Beethoven's 5th Symphony and works by Max Bruch and the contemporary composer Peter Maxwell Davies, while the season finale (August 3 in Plymouth and August 5 in Wolfeboro) highlights a trio of Russian composers in a show featuring young piano phenom Steven Lin.

In between those two signature shows, the festival offers dozens of concerts and events that share the world of classical music with audiences of all ages, tastes and personalities.

For little music lovers in training, there's Family Day (July 22), with a free kid-friendly orchestra concert and an afternoon full of musical fun spread across town for the Make Music Plymouth event. For those who crave knowledge as much as tunes, there's the Classical Conversations discussion and lectures series. And for outdoorsmen and women, there's Music in the Mountains.

This series, Kosits says, "brings individual performers or small groups of performers to trails [and outdoor] spaces where we can essentially combine art and music and conservation." Rattlesnake Mountain, Mt. Major and Mt. Washington all serve as venues for Music in the Mountains, and a July 16 performance at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site continues the outdoor theme. "It’s kind of a way to shine a light on both the artistic splendor of this place and the conservation values that we all have," Kosits says.

To plan your musical summer with the NHMF, keep an eye on their website, An extensive online program booklet and schedule will keep you apprised of what's happening when, and a forthcoming article on their site will explain in even more detail what goes into festival planning and how NHMF music director Paul Polivnick chooses his repertoire.

No matter what your relationship to classical music, there's something to fit your taste in this year's New Hampshire Music Festival. So get to the music-loving town nearest you, and enjoy.