© Luciano Gaudenzio
© Luciano Gaudenzio
Audiences may occasionally take a pair of opera glasses with them to the opera house, but binoculars, whistle and first aid kit are definitely not the norm for classical concert-goers! There are a few places where music festivals take place at reasonably high altitude, but only one we know of where the musicians join the audience in trekking to the venue, lugging their instruments along with them! I Suoni delle Dolomiti – the Sounds of the Dolomites – takes place each summer throughout July and August and is destined to provide the listeners – and musicians – with plenty of exercise.

The beauty of the Trentino surroundings is the key attraction here, with the majestic Dolomites providing a sweeping panorama in which to enjoy the music.

Mario Brunello treks to his concert © Daniele Lira
Mario Brunello treks to his concert
© Daniele Lira
Audiences earn their rewards, however, as reaching your destination requires a little more effort and planning than your usual trip to your local concert hall. Festival performances take place in the early afternoon, to allow you to get back from the performance in daylight ready to enjoy your well-earned evening meal. There is also one performance at dawn, taking place on top of the mountains for the early risers. 

For each 1pm concert, there are two options for getting there. One is to make your own way directly there; the other is to join a longer, guided walk (free) which takes in the local sights. Each walk or guided trek is graded to help you ascertain the difficulty level:

T  - an easy walk suitable for everyone

E - a good walk but with no technical difficulties

EE - a demanding walk for experienced walkers only

EEA – for experienced walkers with mountaineering equipment

Richard Galliano © Walter Cainelli
Richard Galliano
© Walter Cainelli
Having made the ascent to the venue, audiences gather around the musicians – there are no artificial barriers separating them – to savour fine music-making in spectacular landscapes. Trentino is environmentally rich, the Gateway to the Dolomites, with over 200 nature reserves and 19 specially protected areas in its mountains. You can experience the Mediterranean taste of Lake Garda to the glacial high altitudes, discovering a wide range of flora and fauna.

The music on the programme ranges from classical to jazz to world music. Names such as Mischa Maisky, Giuliano Carmignola and Rolf Lislevand should pique (or should that be ‘peak’) interest among classical listeners. Accordionist Richard Galliano has also been a festival favourite over the years. Once Maisky has carried his cello to San Martino di Castrozza, he will perform two of Bach’s Cello Suites, while renowned clarinettist Alessandro Carbonare is joined by wind colleagues Luca Cipriano and Perla Cormani for an afternoon of trios ranging from classical to jazz. Reassuringly, each concert has an alternative venue in case of bad weather.

© Daniele Lira
© Daniele Lira
The concerts themselves are free, apart from a couple of three days treks where cellist Mario Brunello (one of the festival’s most frequent participants) is joined by Giuliano Carmignola – prince of Baroque violinists – and the Norwegian Rolf Lieslevand. The second trek features singer Petra Magoni and lutist Ilaria Fantin. The cost of these treks include transfers, packed lunches and overnight hostel accommodation, plus support from mountain guides. The treks entail up to five hours walking each day, so are for experienced walkers – and particularly determined concertgoers. 

The Sounds of the Dolomites festival has run every summer since 1995 and sounds the perfect harmonic fusion of music and the natural world. Le Corbusier described the Dolomites as “the most beautiful natural architectures in the world” and to be in the midst of such spectacular landscape listening to great performers must be like in the midst of nature embracing music.

For further details, click here to check our listings and refer to the festival’s website.


Preview sponsored by Trentino Marketing.