Make classical music part of your summer road trip

Wolfie joins the GriswoldsWarner Bros./Orion

April 30, 2015

Can't decide on a summer road trip? Does one of your family members refuse to hike for even one more mile — or does your caravan just need a break from the incessant repetition of the Proclaimers singing "I will walk 500 miles"? Classical music is here to help.

With road noise getting in the way of those blissful pianissimos, big and bold music is the way to go while you're on the way to your destination. You're getting on the road to recharge and explore exciting locations, and you need a playlist to match!

Contemporary American composer David Maslanka's music really captures the romance of the road. With romanticized passages that quickly twist away from what you expect to hear, Maslanka's symphonies for wind band are the perfect accompaniment to a road trip without an itinerary.

Respighi's depiction of various scenes of ancient Rome should be even more gripping as you travel across the country. From misty catacombs to a stunning sunrise, Pines of Rome is a great soundtrack to your travels, even if you're not motoring up the Appian Way.

Band and orchestral music tends to lend itself best to road trips, but a giant choir can be invigorating when you're on hour six behind the wheel with no hotel in sight. By the time the chorus belts out "Illuminate our senses" near the end of the first movement, Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand will have even the youngest non-classical music fans on the edge of their carseats.

Of course, the ride is only part of a good road trip, and you're bound to have a place you want to explore for a day or two. Luckily for restless music fans, road trip season coincides with festival season, with plenty of opportunities to overlap the two. There are high-quality classical music festivals scattered all over the country, and chances are that your road trip passes by at least one.

If you're on your way up to the northwoods, stop by the Minnesota Orchestra's Sommerfest (July 5-August 1) for Rachmaninov or a sample of the rebounding orchestra's new ties to Cuba. The Boston Symphony and its legendary Tanglewood Festival (June 19-August 29) are reachable from most of New England, and Chicago's prestigious Ravinia Festival (May 16-September 12) mixes up multiple genres in a massive months-long series reaching from Beethoven and Brahms to Bobby McFerrin and beyond.

If you're planning to hike during your trip, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (July 19-August 24) is nestled near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, making it the perfect road trip destination for families trying to catch both the great outdoors and great masterworks. When you're venturing west, visit the Oregon Bach Festival (June 25-July 12) and explore the master composer's influence on centuries of classical music.

Excellent classical music can be found everywhere. When you're planning your next road trip with family or friends, make sure to find out what local ensembles and festivals can deliver — you might be surprised at how much is already out there on the open road!

Bryan Wells is a media relations specialist in the Minnesota Senate, and performs actively in the Twin Cities choral community. He is a tenor with Magnum Chorum, the Academy of Voices, and the Fiscal Notes — a barbershop quartet of Senate staffers.


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