Facts About the Sun Valley Summer Symphony


2017 Dates: In Focus Series: July 24-28; Orchestra Festival: July 31 – August 17

  • The Sun Valley Summer Symphony, founded in 1985, is the largest privately funded free-admission orchestra in America.
  • The symphony consists of over 100 musicians from major orchestras across the United States and Canada, including those in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Houston, Toronto, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
  • Guest artists have included Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Thomas Hampson, James Ehnes, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Audra McDonald, Yuja Wang and Deborah Voigt.
  • The 2017 season is Alasdair Neale’s 23rd season as Music Director. Maestro Neale is the second music director, following Dr. Carl Eberl who founded the festival with 22 musicians.
  • More than 50,000 people attend Sun Valley Summer Symphony concerts and events each year. Orchestra concerts have an average audience of approximately 4,000. The largest single audience is estimated at 9,000 for Blockbuster Film Scores in 2016.
  • The annual Gala is the only ticketed concert of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony season. Proceeds from the Gala help keep the rest of the concerts admission-free. Singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth appeared at the 2016 Gala, and past Galas have featured artists ranging from Garth Brooks to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Renée Fleming.
  • The In FocusSeries, with smaller ensembles, offers three to four performances preceding each season’s orchestra festival.
  • More than 1,000 individual donors support the free concerts and music education programs annually. In addition, 15 percent of the budget comes from Gala ticket revenue.
  • Concerts are held in the spectacular R. E. Holding Sun Valley Pavilion, built from travertine hand-selected from the Mariotti quarry in Italy by the owners of Sun Valley Resort. The Sun Valley Summer Symphony contributed $3 million toward construction of this world-class venue, which opened in 2008.
  • The “Big Screen” on the lawn shows the action on the stage for every orchestra concert. An eight-person video production team provides live concert coverage during the symphony season.
  • Project Tf3 brings the genre-defying ensemble Time for Three to Sun Valley to teach and perform in the schools and give free concerts in the community. In addition, the symphony is commissioning a work from Time for Three each year. The 2016/17 year is the final of the three-year residency.
  • The Sun Valley Summer Symphony is committed to music education. The year-round School of Music and the Summer Music Institute teach more than 300 students annually. Students from 27 states have attended the Institute.
  • The School of Music opened in January 2001. Private lessons, ensemble coaching and music theory instruction are offered for elementary through high school string, vocal and piano students. The School of Music works closely with the Blaine County School District, which has been recognized for four consecutive years as one of the best communities in music education by the National Association for Music Merchants.