Summer brings symphony outdoors

The mild summer Portland is enjoying provides the perfect opportunity to take in the high arts from a lawn chair. Local symphonies will be performing outdoors in a variety of settings free of charge. Several concerts scheduled this summer offer the chance to take in professional-level symphony performances surrounded by contented fellow concertgoers under the open Oregon sky. The following is a brief overview of a few of those opportunities:

Oregon Symphony

The Oregon Symphony plays its annual Waterfront Concert September 1 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. A range of acts perform throughout the day’s celebration, such as Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Ballet Theater and the Portland Opera. The celebration peaks with the Oregon Symphony concert as the day’s events introduce the symphony’s 120th fall season. Expect the symphony to perform at an optimum level of excellence under the direction of Carlos Kalmar.

Oregon Symphony takes the stage at 7 p.m., promising a show that crescendos with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and concludes with cannon fire from the Oregon National Guard. Tchaikovsky’s Overture is a movement recognized by millions of Americans as the soundtrack of America’s Independence Day, July 4, when in actuality it glorifies Napoleon’s messy retreat from Russia in 1812. But that’s neither here nor there because the auditory impact of the Oregon Symphony is spectacular—the perfect backdrop for fireworks.

Portland Festival Symphony

Portland Festival Symphony provides free outdoor concerts in surrounding city parks throughout July and August. This is music director Lajos Belogh’s self-proclaimed last year as conductor, so witness this local legend while you still can. Belogh immigrated to the United States as a young man from Hungary in 1967. Since then, Belogh’s musical gift to the people of his new homeland has blossomed into an annual Portland tradition. Now in its 36th season of free cultural performance, the symphony will play a set list that includes the canon of classical composers Enesco, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Vivaldi, to name a few.

Festival Symphony plays several city parks this season: Cathedral, Laurelhurst, Peninsula, U.S. Grant and the main stage at Washington Park. Shows are scheduled for July 30–31, and August 6,7 and 14. Portland’s city parks often offer historic settings and the beautiful Pacific Northwest skyline as its theater. These are family friendly events where children dance, lovers love and the good people of Portland invest themselves in high cultural immersion at no cost.

All of the scheduled concert parks are within range of Portland State’s campus and are easily reachable via Trimet. For more information on specific times and venues, see or