Thursday’s SummerFest 2019 theme at The Conrad-–Music at an Exhibition—explored the connection between the visual arts and music performance. Zach Smithey’s bold brushstrokes moved to the music of Biber, Ravel, and J. S. Bach in one hall, while in the main concert hall Inon Barnatan gave a thrilling performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

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Saturday’s La Jolla SummerFest program, “Songs of Heaven and Earth,” clustered major sacred works by J.S. Bach, Olivier Messaien and Gustav Mahler, a combination of composers I cannot recall appearing together on a previous SummerFest program, Both the musical progression and the spiritual journey proved unusually compelling.

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In 2018, the key players of San Diego’s classical music scene struck gold by collaborating with each other. Enlisting some 10 musical organizations in its month-long “It’s About Time Time” festival in January, the San Diego Symphony set a high bar of cooperation for the coming year, but other organizations readily took up the challenge with rewarding results.

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