The Sun Valley Summer Symphony Mission

The Mission of the Sun Valley Summer symphony is to perform exceptional, free-admission classical music concerts that inspire and enrich lives through dynamic, engaging artistic programming and to provide music education programs for youth and adults.

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Over 30 years of free concerts


The largest privately funded free-admission symphony in America, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony celebrates 35 seasons in the glorious Idaho mountains in 2019. Founded in 1985 as the Elkhorn Music Festival by Dr. Carl Eberl, professor emeritus at the College of the City University of New York, and his wife Julianne, the orchestra grew from 22 musicians to 55 at the time of his retirement. Under the leadership of Maestro Alasdair Neale since 1995, the orchestra has grown to more than 100 players and presents free concerts to over 50,000 people annually.

Maestro Neale, now in his 25th Sun Valley Summer Symphony season, conducts a full symphony orchestra that includes distinguished musicians from major orchestras throughout North America, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. 

Internationally acclaimed guest artists and ensembles have graced the Symphony stage, including Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Eugene Brancoveanu, and Chris Botti. Other renowned performers include Christine Brewer, Yefim Bronfman, James Ehnes, Vadim Gluzman, Denyce Graves, Horacio Gutierrez, Nathan Gunn, Lynn Harrell, Leila Josefowicz, Erich Kunzel, Audra McDonald, Midori, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which christened the Sun Valley Pavilion when it opened in 2008. Jon Nakamatsu, Garrick Ohlsson, Christopher Parkening, Jon Kimura Parker, Bernadette Peters, Gil Shaham, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt, Yuja Wang, and Shai Wosner have made appearances. The Symphony’s Steinway is named the Jean-Yves Thibaudet Steinway, with Mr. Thibaudet debuting the piano August 6, 2014.

In keeping with its mission, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony has a variety of education programs for music students of all ages. The School of Music is in its 19th year and the Summer Music Institute celebrates its 22nd season in 2019. As part of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony adult education programs, the community is invited to learn about music to be performed through Upbeat With Alasdair talks given throughout the year and Lawn Chats talks given during the symphony season.