Collage of Mendocino Music Festival performers
The performers at the 2024 Mendocino Music Festival.

Celebrating 38 years of music on the gorgeous Mendocino Headlands, the 2024 Mendocino Music Festival (July 11-27) will present its signature broad range of genres: bluegrass, country, classical, jazz, big band, folk, pop, opera, and country. 

There will be singing! The lineup includes Ladysmith Black Mambazo (remember Paul Simon’s Graceland?); Miko Marks, a rising Black country music pioneer; Julian “J3PO” Pollack, and other players in Chris Botti’s rhythm section, plus singer Sy Smith; Stephanie Anne Johnson who can bring a dive bar to a hush and also get a standing ovation on “The Voice”; and the Festival Big Band with vocal powerhouse Maiya Sykes singing everything from Aretha to Stevie Wonder. The Big Band’s rhythm section loves playing together so much that they’re doing their own concert.

Festival Orchestra and Piano Series

People often ask “Where did you get that great orchestra?” The Festival Orchestra, conducted by Artistic Director Allan Pollack, comprises mostly Bay Area professionals on their summer breaks. The three orchestra concerts start with Ginastera’s Estancia and culminate in the Brahms Requiem, with the Festival Chorus. Other works include the Elgar Cello Concerto, Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concert No. 2.

Orchestra rehearsal for the Mendocino Music Festival
Festival Orchestra rehearsal in the Tent Concert Hall.

Associate Artistic Director Susan Waterfall will present a series exploring the life and music of Gabriel Fauré (a film and three chamber music concerts), and she has chosen extraordinary artists for the always popular narrated Piano Series. The Calder Quartet’s program includes Schubert’s Quartettsatz in C minor and the Fauré quartet. Guest conductor Ryan Murray will lead a rollicking concert version of Mozart’s Così fan tutte.  

Foot-Stomping Bluegrass

There will be plenty of foot-stomping, inspired by legendary fiddler Darol Anger’s band Mr Sun; Irish group JigJam, as it takes bluegrass back to its origins; Rose’s Pawn Shop’s fusion of bluegrass and folk-rock; and the “guerilla roots” sound of Damn Tall Buildings, with the energy of a ragtag crew of music students playing bluegrass on the streets. 

This Festival is in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The town is small, the people friendly, and during the day the sound of music is everywhere. This festive atmosphere fosters a community of music lovers and musicians; with chance encounters with musicians at the grocery store, in the shops, and on the hiking trails. Orchestra rehearsals are open to the public, providing a way to introduce children to the wonder and drama of classical music. Visiting bands and their audiences are encouraged to spend some time together after the concerts.  

Beer and Wine, Cookies and Music

Concert Hall of the Mendocino Music Festival
Tent Concert Hall on the Mendocino Headlands.

Most afternoon concerts are in lovely Preston Hall, a small venue, well suited to chamber music, a cappella, the Piano Series, and jazz singers. Evening concerts are in the heated, 800-seat Tent Concert Hall on the bluffs across from Main Street Mendocino, with its many excellent restaurants and interesting shops. Before the concerts and at intermission guests can enjoy a glass of wine, featuring a different Mendocino County winery each night, or have a beer from North Coast Brewing Company. There is coffee too, and the Mendocino Cookie Company cookies are legendary. 

View the full 2024 season and buy tickets at Ticket prices range from $25 to $65, with youth tickets at $15.

Previous articleWhat’s the Plan for 444 Healdsburg Ave?
Next articleAsti Summer Crossing to Open by July 4


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here