The Encounter

Igniting the Creative Spark
July 24 - August 5, 2017

Highlights include: an exclusive meet and greet with Lang Lang; a “coffee session” with pianist, Conrad Tao; and multi-day work sessions with Time for Three to explore classical improvisation.


The Encounter, the Institute’s two-week, advanced training program for strings, voice and piano will explore the creative spark. Through master classes, discussions, workshops, chamber rehearsal and performances, and other encounters, students will delve into the purpose and impact of the creative spark while refining techniques and developing tools to sustain this powerful connect to the core impulses that inspire the arts. The program targets college undergraduates and advanced high school juniors and seniors committed to serious study. Students possess a curiosity and desire to work in small ensembles where peer and faculty critique is encouraged and appreciated.  Audition recordings are required for all applicants at this level.
APPLICATION DEADLINE APRIL 15.

For Strings


July 24 – August 5

This two-week program is for advanced students who are committed to serious study in their discipline. While students participate in the Sun Valley Youth Orchestra, much of the work focuses on chamber ensemble experiences. Students in this program work directly with Sun Valley Summer Symphony musicians, guest artists, and conductors. Recent guest artists include Itzak Perlman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Jennifer Koh, Joyce Yang, Time for Three, Deborah Voigt, Midori, Renee Fleming, Audra McDonald, and Thomas Hampson. Students should possess a curiosity and desire to work in small ensembles where peer and faculty critique is encouraged and appreciated. Audition tapes are required for all applicants at this level and should represent students as leaders among their peers.

The Work

The first week focuses on chamber music and small ensemble performance opportunities. String students will be placed in appropriate chamber ensembles. In addition to master classes, discussions, and coaching time with professional musicians, each chamber group will have ample time to work together to develop a sense of ensemble and prepare material for performance. Much of this work will be performed at the end of the project. In the second week, students also will participate in the Sun Valley Youth Orchestra rehearsals while remaining committed to their small ensemble work.

Special Opportunities and Performances

During the 2017 Institute, the acclaimed trio Time for Three will be in residence and serve as guest artists. Time for Three and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony are partners in a three-year project supporting new works, community and education – click here for details.

During the second week, string students will also have the opportunity to play with Symphony musicians in a side-by-side performance. This concert is performed in the prestigious Sun Valley Pavilion.

The Encounter culminates in several performance opportunities that celebrate the contributions of each of the students to the program and represent the level and breadth of work of the program.

A Typical Encounter Day for String Students during the first week

  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 9:00 Chamber Orchestra rehearsal
  • 10:30 Break
  • 10:45 Small Ensemble rehearsal
  • 11:45 Small Ensemble coaching, sectionals or master class
  • 12:45 Lunch
  • 1:30 Attend Symphony rehearsals, master classes, workshops
  • 4:00 Small Ensemble rehearsal time
  • 5:15 Dinner on the lawn at The Pavilion (performance day)
  • 6:00 In Focus concert (or private rehearsal time on non-performance day)

A Typical Encounter Day for String Students during the second week

  • 8:00 Chamber Orchestra Rehearsal
  • 9:00 Sun Valley Youth Orchestra rehearsal
  • 10:30 Break
  • 10:45 Sun Valley Youth Orchestra rehearsal continues (with sectionals, etc)
  • 12:30 Lunch
  • 1:30 Attend Symphony rehearsal (or private rehearsal time)
  • 4:00 Small Ensemble coaching
  • 5:30 Dinner on the lawn at The Pavilion (performance day)
  • 6:30 Sun Valley Summer Symphony concert (or private rehearsal time on non-performance day)

Audition Instructions

All students applying for The Encounter must submit audition materials to be considered for the program. Please review the instructions below carefully. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

What do I need to submit?

Three work samples are required, and a fourth may be submitted. Please read the following instructions carefully.

  • First selection: One three-octave scale of the student’s choice with major and minor arpeggios. All separate bows. Four notes to mm. 92
  • Second selection: One etude representing the student’s highest skill level.
  • Third selection: One movement of a major concerto or show piece. No accompaniment necessary.
  • Fourth selection (optional): One movement of solo Bach.

What formats do you accept? How should I submit these work samples?

For Strings:
Audio and video recordings are accepted. Files should be set up as YouTube or other online links. Links to these recordings should be entered into the appropriate slots on the application. More information about how to create YouTube links can be found below.

There are four slots to insert links. You will use three of them. The fourth is available for your optional solo Bach. Your application is not complete and will not be considered until your work samples have been posted. If you are submitting your application without work samples and need to forward the links at a later date, links may be emailed to education@svsummersymphony.org. Please label the email and the sample clearly.

  • Click here for more information about how to submit your work samples.

For Voice


July 24 – August 5, 2017

This two-week program is for advanced students who are committed to serious study in their discipline. While students are an essential component of The Chamber Singers (our advanced large vocal ensemble), much of the work focuses on an intensive study of opera scenes and the art of the art song. Students in this program work directly with Sun Valley Summer Symphony musicians, guest artists and conductors. Recent guest artists include Itzak Perlman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Jennifer Koh, Joyce Yang, Time for Three, Deborah Voigt, Midori, Renee Fleming, Audra McDonald, and Thomas Hampson. Students should possess a curiosity and desire to work in intimate settings where peer and faculty critique is encouraged and appreciated. Audition tapes are required for all applicants at this level and should represent students as leaders among their peers.

The Work

The first week of this process focuses on opera scene work and an intensive exploration of the art song. Students will be assigned appropriate literature. In addition to master classes, discussions, and coaching time with professional musicians, each singer will have ample time to work with accompanists and other singers to prepare this material for performance. Much of this work will be performed at the end of the project. In the second week, students will become leaders in The Chamber Singers rehearsals while remaining committed to their opera workshop experience.

Special Opportunities and Performances

During the 2017 Institute, the acclaimed trio Time for Three will be in residence and serve as guest artists. Time for Three and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony are partners in a three-year project supporting new works, community and education. Click here for details.

The Encounter culminates in several performance opportunities that celebrate the contributions of each of the students to the program and represent the level and breadth of work of the program.

A Typical Encounter Day for Voice Students during the first week

  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 9:00 Warm-up (Yoga for Singers) and master class
  • 10:30 Break
  • 10:45 Private Coaching for opera scenes or solo literature
  • 11:45 Class or workshop
  • 12:45 Lunch
  • 1:30 Attend Symphony rehearsals, master classes, workshops, or staging rehearsal
  • 4:00 Private rehearsal time
  • 5:15 Dinner on the lawn at The Pavilion (performance day)
  • 6:00 In Focus concert (or private rehearsal time on non-performance day)

A Typical Encounter Day for Voice Students during the second week

  • 8:00 Breakfast
  • 9:00 Chamber Singers rehearsal
  • 10:15 Break
  • 10:30 Continued Chamber Singer work
  • 11:15 Break
  • 11:30 Chamber Singer Rehearsal or Master Class
  • 12:15 Lunch
  • 1:00 Opera Workshop rehearsal
  • 2:00 Continue Opera Workshop coachings or attend Symphony rehearsal
  • 3:30 Private coaching, master classes & continued Opera Workshop rehearsals
  • 5:30 Dinner on the lawn at The Pavilion (performance day)
  • 6:30 Festival Concert (or private rehearsal time on non-performance day)

Audition Instructions

All students applying for The Encounter must submit audition materials to be considered for the program. Please review the instructions below carefully. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

What do I need to submit?

Prepare two contrasting songs. Note the following criteria.

  • Songs may be art songs or selections from operatic repertoire.
  • One song may be a musical theater selection.
  • One song should be in English. The other should be in another language.
  • All songs should be accompanied. No a cappella recordings, please.
  • We prefer that each sample be no more than five minutes long. Shorter is fine.

What formats do you accept? How should I submit these work samples?

Audio and video recordings are accepted. Files should be set up as YouTube or other online links. Links to these recordings should be entered into the appropriate slots on the application. More information about how to create YouTube links can be found below.
There are four slots to insert links. You will use two of them. Your application is not complete and will not be considered until your work samples have been posted. If you are submitting your application without work samples and need to forward the links at a later date, links may be emailed to education@svsummersymphony.org. Please label the email and the sample clearly.

  • Click here for more information about how to submit your work samples.

For Piano


July 24 – August 5, 2017

This two-week program is for advanced students who are committed to serious study in their discipline. Pianists are placed in small ensembles which allow them to work not only with other pianists but with exceptional string and voice students as well. Students in this program work directly with Sun Valley Summer Symphony musicians, guest artists, and conductors. Recent guest artists include Itzak Perlman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Jennifer Koh, Joyce Yang, Time for Three, Deborah Voigt, Midori, Renee Fleming, Audra McDonald, and Thomas Hampson. Students should possess a curiosity and desire to work in small ensembles where peer and faculty critique is encouraged and appreciated. Audition tapes are required for all applicants at this level and should represent students as leaders among their peers.

The Work

The first week focuses on chamber music and small ensemble performance opportunities. Pianists will be placed in appropriate chamber ensembles. In addition to master classes, discussions, and coaching time with professional musicians, each chamber group will have ample time to work together to develop a sense of ensemble and prepare material for performance. Much of this work will be performed at the end of the project. In the second week, students will have a variety of additional experiences which may include mentoring younger students, working with large choruses or orchestras, or independent study opportunities guided by our master teachers.

Special Opportunities and Performances

During the 2017 Institute, the acclaimed trio Time for Three will be in residence and serve as guest artists. Time for Three and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony are partners in a three-year project supporting new works, community and education – click here for details.

The Encounter culminates in several performance opportunities that celebrate the contributions of each of the students to the program and represent the level and breadth of work of the program.

Audition Instructions

All students applying for The Encounter must submit audition materials to be considered for the program. Please review the instructions below carefully. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

What do I need to submit?

Three work samples are required, and a fourth may be submitted. Please read the following instructions carefully.

  • First selection:  One major and one minor rendition of a scale or arpeggio.
  • Second selection:  One piece from the Baroque or Classical time period.
  • Third selection:  One contrasting piece (please no show tunes or popular music).

What formats do you accept? How should I submit these work samples?

Audio and video recordings are accepted. Files should be set up as YouTube or other online links. Links to these recordings should be entered into the appropriate slots on the application. More information about how to create YouTube links can be found below.

There are four slots to insert links. You will use three of them. Your application is not complete and will not be considered until your work samples have been posted. If you are submitting your application without work samples and need to forward the links at a later date, links may be emailed to education@svsummersymphony.org. Please label the email and the sample clearly.

  • Click here for more information about how to submit your work samples.

The Fees and Scholarships


Support from the Sun Valley Summer Symphony underwrites the majority of the cost of this exceptional program.

The Symphony is delighted to offer this program to qualified young musicians for a nominal application and materials fee. Please note that students are billed separately for private lessons. There is also an additional fee for students who choose to take advantage of the Institute Housing opportunity.

  • Application Fee (to be paid at time of application, non-refundable) $50
  • Registration and Materials Fee (to be paid upon acceptance) $150
  • Housing (see below for details) $650

The Sun Valley Summer Symphony is committed to making this program accessible to all qualified musicians regardless of financial need. Scholarships are available. The maximum support covers approximately half of the application, materials and housing costs.


Housing Opportunities



Many students choose to find their own accommodations during their stay in Sun Valley. As a resort community, the Wood River Valley (the communities of Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, and Bellevue) offers a broad range of lodging options. For those students age 16 or above who wish to take advantage of room and board provided by The Institute, a limited number of double or triple occupancy rooms are available through the Community School. These dormitory-style rooms are made available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The fee for this lodging includes all meals. For the 13 days of The Encounter, the fee for room and board is $650.

Performances and Venues



The Encounter offers many opportunities for performance in diverse locations throughout the Wood River Valley. Individual, chamber and large ensemble performances reflect the diversity and quality of the program and its participants. Students in The Encounter perform on the stage in the world-class Sun Valley Pavilion. More intimate performances occur in the theater at The Community School. These performances may be augmented by even more intimate salon concerts and mini pop-up events around town. In 2017, string students from The Encounter will be invited to play in a side-by-side performance with members of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony on the Sun Valley Pavilion stage.

The Time for Three Variable

The first week of work concludes with Time for Three encounters. Time for Three are known for their “out-of-the-box” performances and there is always the possibility that something totally original and completely unexpected will evolve from one of their sessions. Students may find themselves immersed in a truly unique performance opportunity!