May 22, 2020
Sun Valley Music Festival Reimagines Upcoming Summer Season with Three Weeks of All-New Digital Programming, July 27 – August 19

Programming to include all previously announced guest artists, including Leila Josefowicz, Daniil Trifonov, Orion Weiss, and ensembles Time for Three and The Villalobos Brothers, as well as guest speaker and Beethoven scholar Jan Swafford

Nation’s largest admission-free, privately supported festival of classical music to present free, one-time-only webcasts of chamber and orchestral music led by Music Director Alasdair Neale

Complete programming to be announced in late June

Music Director Alasdair Neale introduces online Summer Season.


SUN VALLEY, IDAHO (May 22, 2020) — Festival Music Director Alasdair Neale and Executive Director Derek Dean today announced that the Summer Season of the 36th annual Sun Valley Music Festival will be performed and presented via the Internet, with new programming reimagined for the online experience. These premiere webcasts will be specially created for the proceedings this summer and aired online as one-time only events over the Festival’s three weeks—July 27 to August 19. Click here for the original Summer Season announcement. A further announcement of changes to repertoire and event formats will be made in late June and will include details on how to watch.

Since 1985, the Festival has brought together world-class musicians from distinguished orchestras across North America to perform three weeks of chamber and orchestral concerts free to the public each summer in the scenic, Rocky Mountain resort city of Sun Valley, Idaho. The transformation of the upcoming Summer Season into a free, online festival will allow musicians to make music, faculty to teach, students to learn, and audiences to enjoy music from anywhere, all while following local and national safety guidelines and practices. Additionally, these digital events may be projected for viewers on the Lawn of the Sun Valley Pavilion, allowing audiences in Sun Valley to enjoy each concert outdoors with appropriate social distancing. The Festival is deeply committed to the well-being of its audiences and community, and any plans to welcome viewers on the Lawn are contingent upon being able to do so safely and in accordance with the latest health recommendations and guidelines (per The Pavilion interior and seating will not be used.

The Summer Season lineup will still include performances by guest artists Leila JosefowiczDaniil TrifonovOrion Weiss, and ensembles Time for Three and The Villalobos Brothers, as well as a special Beethoven @ 250 series, to include guest speaker and noted Beethoven scholar Jan Swafford. From their home cities, Festival Orchestra musicians will play in solo, duet, chamber, and full orchestra configurations, starting on opening night, Monday, July 27 at 6:30 p.m. MT.

Music Director Alasdair Neale said:

“While we will all miss the social gatherings of the summer, this transformation gives us the chance to produce all-new programs from our musicians in their homes and hometowns. We’re looking forward to delving into a great treasure trove of music one doesn’t usually hear at an orchestra concert. We’ll have the opportunity to get to know the musicians in a more relaxed and intimate environment. And, most of all, we will be able to further strengthen the bonds that already tie us together so wonderfully.”

Additionally, with regard to the Festival’s annual Gala concert—a key fundraising initiative—Executive Director Derek Dean said:

“For many years, the annual Gala concert has been the only event for which the Sun Valley Music Festival charges admission. This year, as a gift back to the community, the Festival is pleased to offer the concert for free to everyone. The guest artists are truly excited to put together a unique program for Sun Valley audiences, including the tribute to Earl Holding and Family. It’s going to be a very special evening.”

The Gala concert will feature guest artists Audra McDonaldKelli O’Hara, and Brian Stokes Mitchell, and will be webcast on Monday, August 3 at 6:30 p.m. MT.

This summer’s programming will also provide opportunities for audiences to learn more about the Festival Orchestra musicians—their insights, abilities, and personalities. The Orchestra comprises more than 100 musicians from leading ensembles in North America, including more than ten each from the San Francisco and St. Louis Symphonies. Orchestra members hail from more than 45 different ensembles and institutions, including the Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Toronto Symphonies; the Cleveland, Louisville, and Minnesota Orchestras; and the Chicago Lyric, Dallas, Houston Grand, and Washington National Opera Orchestras; among many other ensembles.

The Festival also offers tuition-free educational programming to the local community every year through its Music Institute, and this summer, the Institute will transform its curricula to better suit remote learning. The Advanced Chamber Program for aspiring college undergraduate and high school musicians will shift its focus from group performance to individual development and the integration of digital auditions and performances to prepare them for the future. For students grades 2–12, this summer’s curriculum will include instrument fundamentals, music games, music theory, composition, and world music, with instruction available to those of all ability levels.


About the Sun Valley Music Festival

The Sun Valley Music Festival was founded by Carl and Julianne Eberl in 1985 on a mission to inspire the Sun Valley, Idaho community and instill a lifelong love of classical music through admission-free concerts and tuition-free educational programming. The Festival Orchestra has grown from 20 members at its founding, to now more than 100 musicians from North America’s most distinguished ensembles, making it the largest, privately funded orchestra devoted exclusively to free performances. The Festival presents its three-week Summer Season every July and August and has hosted a variety of internationally renowned guest artists, including Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Gautier Capuçon, Midori, Frederica von Stade, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Since 2008, the Festival’s summer performances have taken place at the R.E. Holding Sun Valley Pavilion. Each February, the Festival also presents a Winter Season at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum, Idaho.

Through the Sun Valley Music Institute, the Festival strives to introduce every Wood River Valley student to the joys of classical music, to inspire the next generation of music lovers. Its year-round and summer programs provide tuition-free instruction for string, piano, and voice students of all skill levels—from elementary through high school—that goes beyond the fundamentals and embraces the entire musician.

For more information, visit

About Music Director Alasdair Neale

Alasdair Neale is now in his 26th year as Music Director of the Sun Valley Music Festival. Through his artistry, vision, and commitment to the Sun Valley community, he has taken the Festival to new artistic heights and brought in such acclaimed guest artists as Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Yuja Wang, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Mr. Neale has also served as the Music Director of the Marin Symphony since 2001, and is the 11th Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, beginning with the 2019–20 season. He has guest-conducted numerous orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic; the Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Sydney, and Toronto Symphonies; the Royal Scottish National and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras; and the Orchestre Métropolitain, among many others. In March 2002, he collaborated with director Peter Sellars and composer John Adams to open the Adelaide Festival with a production of the oratorio El Niño.

Mr. Neale holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University and a Master’s from Yale University, where his principal teacher was Otto-Werner Mueller. He lives in San Francisco.

For more information, visit

# # #

Press contact:

Shuman Associates | (212) 315-1300

See Related:
Back to List
Back to Top