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Sun Valley Music Festival Campaigns to Upgrade Big Screen, Sound System
The big screen on the Sun Valley Pavilion lawn has been a crowd pleaser since it was introduced in 2010 for the Garth Brooks gala fundraiser.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022


The Sun Valley Music Festival has launched a capital campaign to upgrade its big screen and sound system to better serve the thousands of people who enjoy summer symphony performances on the Pavilion lawn.

An anonymous donor has offered to match up to $250,000 in gifts dollar-for-dollar through the 2022 summer symphony season.

The hundreds of people who took their places on the lawn for Sunday’s opening concert of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto featuring the expressive young pianist George Li and intricate percussion rhythms were the first to hear the new sound system. It is designed to give those on the lawn the same experience as those in the Pavilion.

Electronica music wizard Mason Bates used the big screen to his benefit during a Sun Valley Music Festival lawn party in 2019.

The wiring for the D&B Soundscape system was installed last summer, with technicians replacing cables, upgrading connections throughout the lawn and installing a new D&B Soundscape system. The system includes 48 channels of amplifiers and a new virtual acoustic processor in the Pavilion basement.

 The new system allows listeners to hear the sound come at them the way it leaves the stage with violins on the left, basses on the right, the winds midway back and the timpani and horns bouncing off the rear wall.

This is accomplished through a sophisticated mixing technology that channels sound from the microphones above the stage and adds tiny amounts of variation in volume, reverb and spatial location to mimic what the audience inside the Pavilion is hearing.

Festival sound engineers can now adjust the acoustics electronically with the click of a button, changing the acoustics on the lawn from chamber to concert hall to cathedral the way the stage crew does physically.

For Sunday’s concert sound technicians got hands on, installing a temporary wall, bringing the back of the stage forward and in from the sides. They also lowered the wooden panels hung above the stage to help a smaller orchestra of 40 musicians fill a 3,00-square-foot stage that normally accommodates an orchestra of a hundred or more musicians.

The current standard definition screen will be replaced with a newer, larger, high-definition screen in the summer 2023. Today’s high-definition screens offer far more resolution and visual detail than did those of 10 years ago.

The new screen will offer an enhanced viewing experience, allowing those sitting further back on the lawn in what used to be the overflow section to see details better.

The LARES-Lexicon Sound System was state-of-the-art when it was installed in 2008 for the opening of the Pavilion. And it was upgraded in 2011.

But improved technology means that sound systems today can recreate the acoustic performance inside the 45,000-square foot Pavilion in ways that were unimaginable when the Pavilion with its dramatically arched, hornlike acoustic shell was built.

Ditto for the big 14-by-25-foot screen, which was initially brought in to accommodate lawngoers for the Garth Brooks Symphony concert in 2010. The screen proved so popular that the symphony stopped it in its tracks as it headed down the highway away from Sun Valley, recalling it for the remainder of the season.

The Elaine P. Wynn Foundation and an anonymous donor provided funding to rent a big screen in 2011, and it’s been a mainstay of the Sun Valley Music Festival ever since.

Daniel Hansen, the senior marketing manager at the Sun Valley Music Festival, said he doesn’t know just how much is needed to cover the new sound system and screen, but it's estimated the whole package will cost about $750,000 fully installed. Those wishing to donate to the campaign may do so online at

Or, you may make a donation in person at the Festival office at 120 2nd Ave. N., Suite 103, in Ketchum or at the Welcome Center and Store to the left of the main Pavilion entrance.

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