The Settimane Musicali di Stresa e del Lago Maggiore– the 2013 Stresa Festival – is back this year with a program of exceptional concerts in unique sites around Lake Maggiore. The 52nd Stresa Festival will open with the second edition of theMidsummer Jazz Concerts, a jazz festival in miniature on the banks of the lake. This year’s program is double last year’s. Over the weekend from 19 to 21 July, against the breathtaking backdrop of the flowery paths along the Lungolago La Palazzola, and the Borromeo Islands, five open-air concerts will delight all those who enjoy improvisation in jazz. Enrico Rava PM Jazz Lab is offering a tribute to Michael Jackson on 19 July, in Rava on the Dancefloor. Then on Saturday 20 July, starting at 6.30 p.m. it will be the turn of pianist and composer Uri Caine, with Solitaire. Later, at 9 p.m. The Big Sur Project will hold the floor, with its guitarist Bill Frisell. On Sunday 21 July “new bridges between jazz and the tango” will be built, by the original duo of sax-player Javier Girottoand Luciano Biondini on the accordion (6.30 p.m.). The 9 p.m. show will present Alma, a music project inspired by the meeting of Sardinian trumpet and flugelhorn player Paolo Fresuand Omar Sosa,a Cuban jazz pianist and composer. Fast-forward to the Musical Meditations(25-28 July), centered once more on renaissance and baroque music. After pieces by Caccini and Peri on 25 July, sung by soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr, accompanied by Mara Galassi on the harp, the main dish at this feast is Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites, usually the starter in the series. This year the Berlin cellist Julian Steckel will play them, in the Santa Caterina Hermitage (26 and 27 July). The last appointment in the Meditations program finds the Tölzer Knabenchor with their director Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden (28 July), singing Bach’s Six Motets.Between heaven and earth is this year’s “theme”, symbolizing the projection of our desires and aspirations to a more just and equitable world, while still acknowledging how firmly the reality surrounding us is rooted. The Festival’s program is based on music from the Classic period and late 19th century, with occasional trips into the 20th century repertoire. The inaugural concert in the Palazzo dei Congressi will be given by the Gstaad Festival Orchestraconducted by Neeme Järvi. They will play Smetana’s La Moldava and Debussy’s La Mer, with two pieces by Benjamin Britten, from Peter Grimes. The program includes Water, a composition for piano and orchestra by the eclectic Turkish pianist Fazil Say,who will interpret the piece himself. Wednesday 28 August sees another orchestra in the Palacongressi – theStresa Festival Orchestra, with its conductor Gianandrea Noseda, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Their program includes the Aria from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, Schubert’s Fifth Symphony and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, K 550. The Festival’s Artistic Director, Gianandrea Noseda, will be back on stage on Sunday 1 September, conducting theOrchestra and Choir of the Turin Teatro Regio in a transcription of Verdi’s String Quartet, followed by Rossini’s Stabat Mater, with the splendid voices of Maria Agresta, Angela Brower,Gregory Kunde and Mirco Palazzi. On Friday 6 September at the Palazzo dei Congressi theSonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, led by their violinist Giuliano Carmignola, will interpret two of Vivaldi’s works, Le quattro stagioni and the Violin Concerto in D major, RV 212, as well as Corelli’s Concerti grossi II and IV. The Festival’s closing event, on Saturday 7 September, is a concert by the Czech Philharmonic orchestra, conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. Their program will start with Šárka by Smetana, then Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, and Rachmaninoff’sPiano Concerto No. 2, with the young Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein as soloist. A new idea for 2013, in the footsteps of Bach’s Cello Suites and Violin partitas was to work through Beethoven’s Last String Quartets, which will be played on three separate evenings by three different internationally known quartets. On Sunday 25 August, in the Church of S. Ambrogio in Stresa, the Keller Quartet will play the Grand Fugue and Quartet no. 15, finishing up with some pieces from Bach’s Art of the Fugue. Next will come the Quartetto Prometeo, with Nos 13 and 16, then the Amaryllis Quartet, playing Nos 12 and 14. The public will have the pleasure of hearing some outstanding ensembles and soloists. There is the Ventus Quintet Salzburg on 29 August, the Nash Ensemble on 30 August, and Marco Rizzi playing J.S. Bach’s violin Sonatas and Partitas (31 August), Lycopersicon,led by the cellist Gaetano Nasillo on 2 September, will be followed the next evening (3 September) by the Argentinian cellista Sol Gabetta, accompanied by Sergio Ciomei on the piano. On 4 September the French harpistXavier De Maistre will play in Arona, and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet will be at the piano on the Isola Bella on 5 September. The 2013 Stresa Festival has made a small “organizational change” this year – almost all the concerts will start at 8 o’clock. The only schedules we have not changed are the departure times for the boats that ferry us to the concerts at Santa Caterina and the Borromeo islands, which will still start at 8.30 p.m. Among the magnificent sites alongside and around Lake Maggiore where for years the Stresa Festival has been privileged to hold its concerts, we must mention the Santa Caterina Hermitage, the impressive Tapestry Hall in Palazzo Borromeo on the Isola Bella, the Loggia del Cashmere looking out over the beautiful gardens on the Isola Madre, the Rocca Borromeo high above Angera, the Castello Visconteo in Vogogna, the monumental Church Madonna di Campagna on the outskirts of Verbania, the splendidly decorated Chiesa Vecchia in Belgirate, and Villa Ponti in Arona.