Here in London we're gearing up for a summer of Olympian proportions of busyness, but the classical programme is pretty packed as well. As ever, here are some picks, looking both forward and back, in concerts, opera and dance.
Our focus this month is on festivals in Europe, and you can take a look here at a few of the highlights. There's everything from Baroque to contemporary, based in places from Aberdeen to Croatia, so wherever you're heading, take a look here first.
But it's not just about the major venues. We've compiled a selection of slighlty more tucked-away festivals around the UK for the summer and autumn: the perfect break from the stress of the city. For beautiful music and a sense of calm, this is the place to look.
Our headline review this month comes from another rather unexpected location: the Old Schools Site in Raploch, a district of Stirling in Scotland. Residents were treated to some world-class music making on 21 June, when they welcomed Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, partnering with students of the area's Big Noise scheme, the Scottish equivalent of the feted Venezuelan music education scheme El Sistema. David Smythe made the trip, and his review is well worth a look.
We picked out some Proms highlights a while back, but with Prom 1 stealthily approaching, it's worth another look, and eminently in keeping with our festivals theme. Here are what we think will be the highlights once again – stay tuned to see how they actually are, though, as we will certainly be reviewing...
There's been all sorts going on lately in the concert hall, and that most esteemed of British concert halls, Birmingham's Symphony Hall, has been celebrating its 21st anniversary in style: Katherine Dixson was there for a celebratory concert with the CBSO and Bryn Terfel. Over in New York, Alan Gilbert presided over a show-stealing Nielsen performance with the NY Phil, while in London it was internet sensation Valentina Lisitsa making the headlines, with her Royal Albert Hall debut justifying all the attention.
Racism – or the overcoming thereof – was, surprisingly, the theme of the month in opera, with the bold Slaying the Dragon causing a stir in Philadelphia and Cape Town Opera's Mandela Trilogy coming to Cardiff. Equally political was the San Francisco debut of Nixon in China, while less political were Berlioz's enormous Les Troyens at Covent Garden, and a stunning Pelléas from Einstein on the Beach man Robert Wilson in Barcelona.
We've had a varied month in ballet, from the classic Swan Lake in an exemplary performance from American Ballet Theatre to a triple bill from the Royal Ballet in London of works connected by Sir Frederick Ashton. Via, naturally, Handspring Puppet Company's Crow, a piece based on the poem by Ted Hughes.
David and Alison Karlin