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Sun Valley Music Festival Celebrates 40 Seasons with ‘Raiders,’ ‘William Tell’ and More Adventurous Selections
Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” Rossini’s “William Tell” overture and Ravel’s “Bolero” are among the classics the Sun Valley Music Festival will perform during its 40th summer season.

And the Festival will screen the blockbuster “Raiders of the Lost Ark” while the orchestra plays John Williams’ score under the direction of conductor Vinay Parameswaran, a San Francisco native and associate conductor with the Cleveland and Nashville orchestras who is considered one of the most exciting, energetic, compelling and versatile young conductors on the podium today.

The symphony accompanied the screening of “Star Wars” several years ago to much acclaim.

Fourteen free concerts will be presented July 29-Aug. 22 at the Sun Valley Pavilion.

Guest artists will include the acclaimed Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, who performs with such major orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony. He will make his Sun Valley debut performing Brahms’s Violin Concerto, which is considered a celebration of the soloist’s technique and musicianship.

Sir Stephen Hough, a MacArthur fellow and one of the most distinctive artists of his generation, will also make his Sun Valley debut performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto, which is considered one of the most popular, beloved works of all time.

“I’m looking forward to this milestone 40th-anniversary season,” said Artistic Director Alasdair Neale, who will conduct 11 of the 14 Summer Season programs. “As befits the occasion, we’re celebrating decades of musical excellence with a top-notch lineup of great music and great artists. And it all takes place in the unparalleled setting of the Sun Valley Pavilion against the backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains.”

The Summer Season includes:

A world premiere commissioned by the Festival of a cello concerto by Pulitzer Prize finalist and multi-Grammy-nominated composer Andy Akiho, performed by former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler

The world premiere season-opening fanfare by Timothy Higgins, principal trombone of the San Francisco Symphony—a piece that was commissioned by the Festival

Guest pianist Garrick Ohlsson, the only American to have won first prize in the International Chopin Piano Competition, performing Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and an all-Chopin solo recital

Soprano Meechot Marrero, hailed as  revelation…a young Puerto Rican star with a great career ahead,” in her turn to Sun Valley to sing songs and arias, including Schbert’s “The Shepherd on the Rock”

Gabriela Ortiz’s “Antropolis,” which was inspired by the music of Mexico’s nightlife

Jessie Montgomery’s effervescent “Strum,” which draws on American folk idioms and the spirit of dance and movement

Additional programs include Astor Piazzola’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” and Quinn Mason’s “A Joyous Trilogy.”

The Sun Valley Music Festival is the largest privately-funded, admission-free classical music festival in the United States.

The Sun Valley Music Festival is made up of more than a hundred world-class musicians from North America’s most distinguished orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony.

Stephanie Childress, who is with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, returns as the Music Festival’s Associate conductor for the second year to lead several performances, including Mozart’s Symphony No. 36, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.”

Concerts, which begin at 6:30 p.m. are free and feature seating inside the Sun Valley Pavilion and on the lawn where picnickers can watch the performance on a state-of-the-art big screen augmented by a state-of-the-art sound system.

Festival musicians, conductors and guest artists, including Meechot Marrero, Andy Akiho, Jeffrey Zeigler and Sir Stephen Hough, will work with students at the Sun Valley Music Festival Music Institute, now in it 27th year. The program will be open to students in grades 2-12 Aug. 5-9. College undergraduates and exceptional high school students studying piano, strings and voice can participate in the Advanced Chamber Program July 29-Aug. 10.

Students pay only nominal registration and materials fees, thanks to the generosity of Music Festival donors. To learn more, visit

This year’s Sun Valley Musi Festival Summer Season lineup:

Opening Night

Monday, July 29

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Meechot Marrero, soprano

Timothy Higgins: Fanfare – Commissioned by the Sun Valley Music Festival – World Premiere

Select songs

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25, “Classical Symphony”

Festival Chamber Orchestra

Tuesday, July 30

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Juliana Athayde, violin

Stephanie Childress, conductor

Piazzolla/Desyatnikov: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

Mozart: Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425, "Linz"

Chamber Concert

Thursday, August 1

Meechot Marrero, soprano

Susan Warner, clarinet

Peter Henderson, piano

Milana Elise Reiche, violin

Chris Tantillo, viola

Emileigh Vandiver, cello

Stephen Tramontozzi, bass

Schubert: The Shepherd on the Rock

Schubert: Quintet for Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, and Piano in A Major, D. 667, Op. 114, “Trout”

Festival Chamber Orchestra

Friday, August 2

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Jeffrey Zeigler, cello

Andy Akiho: Concerto for Cello – Co-Commissioned by the Sun Valley Music Festival – World Premiere

Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks

Festival Orchestra

Sunday, August 4

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Stephanie Childress, conductor

Williams: Olympic Fanfare and Theme

Johann Strauss, Jr.: On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Wagner/Hutschenruyter: The Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre

Rossini: Overture to William Tell

Ravel: Boléro

Festival Orchestra — Gala Benefit Concert

Monday, August 5

To be announced

Chamber Concert

Wednesday, August 7

Sir Stephen Hough, piano

Jeremy Constant, violin

Polina Sedukh, violin

Adam Smyla, viola

Amos Yang, cello

Cécile Chaminade: Étude de concert, Op.35, No. 2, “Automne”

Sir Stephen Hough: Sonatina Nostalgica

Dvořák: Quintet No. 2 in A Major for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, Op. 81

Festival Orchestra

Thursday, August 8

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Sir Stephen Hough, piano

Alex Orfaly, timpani

Gabriela Ortiz: Antrópolis

Grieg: Concerto in A Minor for Piano, Op. 16

Festival Orchestra

Sunday, August 11

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Mahler: Symphony No.6 in A Minor, “Tragic”

Festival Orchestra

Tuesday, August 13

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Stephanie Childress, conductor

Jeremy Constant, violin

Amos Yang, cello

Peter Henderson, piano

Jessie Montgomery: Strum

Beethoven: Concerto in C Major, Op.  56, “Triple”

Festival Orchestra

Wednesday, August 14

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Leonidas Kavakos, violin

Quinn Mason: A Joyous Trilogy

Brahms: Concerto in D Major for Violin, Op. 77

Festival Orchestra — Pops Night

Saturday, August 17

Vinay Parameswaran, conductor

Williams: Raiders of the Lost Ark Live in Concert

Festival Orchestra

Monday, August 19

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Stephanie Childress, conductor

Jonathan Dimmock, organ

Britten: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op. 33a

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No.3 in C Minor, Op.78, “Organ Symphony”

Chamber Concert

Tuesday, August 20

Garrick Ohlsson, piano

Chopin:  Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15, No. 1

Chopin:  Nocturne in B Major, Op. 9, No. 3

Chopin:  Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60

Chopin:  Fantaisie in F Minor, Op. 49

Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat Major, Op. 29

Mazurka in C-sharp Minor, Op. 50, No. 3

Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 31

Festival Orchestra

Thursday, August 22

Alasdair Neale, conductor

Garrick Ohlsson, piano

Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43

Respighi: The Pines of Rome

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