The Tuscan Sun Festival, headquartered in the medieval hilltop town of Cortona, was founded in 2003 by Barrett Wissman, chairman of the powerhouse management agency IMG Artists. That, of course, would explain the extraordinary roster of performers: singers Anna Netrebko, Susan Graham and Dmitri Hvorostovsky; violinists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Pinchas Zukerman, Nikolaj Znaider and Vadim Repin; pianists Lang Lang and Piotr Anderszewski; conductors St_phane Denve and Antonio Pappano; the Russian National Orchestra ... and that's not even a complete list.
The artistic directors of the two-week event — running August 5-20 this year — are cellist Nina Kotova and writer Frances Mayes, author of the popular book Under the Tuscan Sun inspired the festival. They've created a multidisciplinary extravaganza, with four art exhibitions, lectures on literature and even morning yoga classes available in addition to the music.
Among the highlights of the music program: solo recitals by Piotr Anderszewski (August 6), Joshua Bell (August 12) and Christopher Taylor playing Messiaen's Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-J_sus (August 13); Pinchas Zukerman and the Zukerman Chamber Players (August 7); Susan Graham singing Mozart arias and Dmitri Sitkovetsky conducting Shostakovich's String Symphony (August 8); Graham again, singing Ravel's Chansons mad_casses with Piotr Anderszewski on a chamber music program that also includes Vadim Repin playing Prokofiev (August 10); three celebrated Russian Soloists — Anna Netrebko, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Nina Kotova — with the Russian National Orchestra (August 11); Denve, who's the exciting new director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducting the Russian National Orchestra with Bell and Anderszewski as soloists (August 13); Lang Lang sitting still and playing Mozart (yes, he can do it) with Antonio Pappano conducting members of his orchestra from London's Royal Opera House (August 15); and Kotova in two all-Russian chamber music programs, with Lang Lang and Hvorostovsky (August 16) and Nikolaj Znaider and Alexander Kobrin, gold medalist at the 2005 Van Cliburn piano competition (August 18).
Complete information on both the Tuscan Sun Festival and its younger sister, the Festival del Sole which was launched last month in California's Napa Valley, is available at www.festivaldelsole.com.