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Newport Music Festival announces summer 2021 schedule

The season launches July 4 with a slate of 17 performances from GRAMMY-nominated artists in classical music

Gillian Friedman Fox, the new executive director of the Newport Music Festival announced the 17 outdoor concerts for the Festival's 53rd season, and her debut.Nathan Lutz

NEWPORT, R.I. — In her season debut as the iconic Newport Music Festival’s new executive director, Gillian Friedman Fox announced the festival’s 53rd schedule of rich, genre-defying shows across 17 outdoor concerts in July.

Opening night, on July 4, will feature GRAMMY-nominated, Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry in a program celebrating a diverse array of voices in classical music, with works from Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-George; Jessie Montgomery; Arvo Pärt; and Teresa Carreño.

New York-based Harlem Quartet will make their Newport Festival debut in a concert that will combine pieces from the standard string quartet canon with jazz, Latin, and contemporary works. Some of the music will be by William Grant Still, Tomeka Reid, George Walker, Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billy Strayhorn.


Nine other acts will also make their Festival debut, which will run through July 20, including GRAMMY Award-winning Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion; virtuoso jazz and classical pianist and composer Aaron Diehl; Trailblazing pianist Lara Downes; internationally renowned “orchestra of voices” Chanticleer; Brooklyn Rider; Flutist Lara Deutsch, who was named one of BBC Music Magazine’s “Rising Stars;” Redline Brass Quintet in two free community concerts; and Boston Lyric Opera star soprano Chelsea Basler.

In their return, Boston Trio will feature work by composer Stacy Garrop, who is based out of Chicago. The show will be part of Fox’s new initiative to commission a new work by a Black, Indigenous, person of color, or woman composer as a commitment to the “future of classical music.”

Garrop’s music is centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling, says Fox. And the piece “Beacon of the Bay,” is inspired by Castle Hill’s iconic lighthouse and its role in keeping Newport safe for more than 130 years.

“When the Newport Music Festival commissioned me for a piano trio in honor of their 2021 season, I looked for a topic that would celebrate an aspect of the Newport community,” Garrop said in the announcement. “I became fascinated with the lighthouse on the property of Castle Hill Inn, located at the opening of the East Passage of the Narragansett Bay, erected in 1890 on a very picturesque spot right at the water’s edge. Lighthouses link the past with the present, and will endure long into the future, with their beacons serving the same purpose for every generation.”


Each concert will be held outdoors at historic mansions and venues in Newport, including The Breakers, Bellevue House, Castle Hill Inn, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, King Park, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Norman Bird Sanctuary, and Rough Point.

Tickets will go on sale online or by calling the box office 401-849-0700 on Monday, April 19.

Free community concerts will be hosted at King Park and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center Basketball Courts, and Sunrise Concerts at Norman Bird Sanctuary.

Fox, who was known to bridge the gap between contemporary culture and classical music at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, was hired as the Festival’s leader late last year. Originally from New Jersey, she had received national attention for curating programs that featured cutting-edge artists and visuals as the Orchestra’s director of Cotemporary and SOLUNA programs.

In her announcement of the 2021 program, she said the festival “celebrates the diversity of expression and artistic interpretation within classical music.” Like many other events, the Newport Music Festival was cancelled last summer, though the organization rolled out a mini, three-day show at The Chanler, which Fox previously said sold out, giving her confidence that there was so much demand.


“This season represents a significant inflection point for the Newport Music Festival as we embrace the genre of classical music as a living artform and invite audiences of all backgrounds to experience the magic of chamber music in unique and intimate settings,” said Fox.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.