2019 Summer Concert Series

July 29-August 22

Extraordinary, admission-free performances, a spectacular setting—and truly something for everyone.

With a blockbuster lineup for the 2019 Summer Concert Series, Sun Valley Music Festival celebrates two milestones: 35 seasons of the finest music-making, and 25 years under the baton of beloved Music Director, Alasdair Neale.

The season will feature three guest artists in residence, an exploration of chamber orchestra masterpieces, evenings of French composers and Gershwin favorites, family-friendly performances, and stirring symphonic works, including Mahler’s mighty Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection.”

Must-see, must-hear concerts


Mozart and Bach Violin Masterpieces

Monday, July 29, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Chamber Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Ray Chen, Violin
Juliana Athayde, Violin

Bach:  Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins, BWV 1043
Mozart: Concerto No. 5 in A Major for Violin, K. 219, “Turkish”

Virtuoso violinist Ray Chen won the Yehudi Menuhin and Queen Elizabeth competitions (the only violinist to win both), wears Armani (his sponsor), and made Forbes’s 2018 list of the 30 most influential Asians under 30. The summer’s opening night includes Chen soloing in Mozart’s delightful and inventive 5th Violin Concerto, and joining Festival Assistant Concertmaster Juliana Athayde to weave together a beautiful stream of independent and overlapping melodies in Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.


The 20th Century Chamber Orchestra

Tuesday, July 30, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Chamber Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Sameer Patel, Conductor

Ravel:  Le Tombeau de Couperin
Stravinsky:  Concerto in E-flat Major for Chamber Orchestra, “Dumbarton Oaks”
Prokofiev:  Symphony No. 1, Op. 25, “Classical”

Three 20th century composers riff on the styles exemplified by Bach and Mozart in the opening program. Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks” evokes Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, while Prokofiev channeled Mozart and Haydn in structuring his lovely “Classical Symphony.” Ravel orchestrated his suite for small orchestra titled Le Tombeau de Couperin in a baroque style, delivering a surprisingly light-hearted memorial for friends lost in World War I.


Thibaudet and Capuçon in Recital

Thursday, August 1, 2019, 6:30 PM

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Piano, Artist-in-Residence
Gautier Capuçon, Cello, Artist-in-Residence

Brahms:  Sonata No. 1 in E Minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 38
Shostakovich:  Sonata in D Minor for Cello and Piano, Op.40

Virtuosic French artists present a stunning recital (without orchestra). Pianist and Sun Valley favorite Jean-Yves Thibaudet returns with one of the world’s leading cellists, Gautier Capuçon, for a week-long residency. Their program continues the thread of works inspired by earlier composers with Brahms’s Cello Sonata No. 1, which pays homage to Bach’s The Art of the Fugue, and Shostakovich’s Sonata in D Minor, a beautiful piece written in 1934 but structured in classical form.

“It’s where we all gather: it’s the center of town life

With picnic basket, folding chairs, blanket, and our two kids in tow, we find ‘our spot’ on the lawn and settle in for what we know will be a wonderful evening of music, fine dining, and chatting with friends old and new. As the glorious music wafts over us and the mountains start to change color in the background, we enjoy a wonderful family night out. And it’s free!"

—Sun Valley Resident and Lawn Super-Fan

Sun Valley Summer Symphony attendee

An Evening with Richard Strauss

Friday, August 2, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Chamber Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
William VerMeulen, French Horn

R. Strauss: Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major for Horn and Orchestra, Op. 11
R. Strauss:  Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Op. 60

Alasdair Neale and Principal Horn William VerMeulen both celebrate 25 years with the Festival this season, and this program pairs them up on Strauss’s fiendishly difficult Horn Concerto. Strauss wrote it for his father, who was Germany’s leading horn virtuoso. However, upon seeing the score, Strauss senior pragmatically decided to cede the glory to another player. Providing comic relief to the program, Strauss’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme offers a humorous satire on social climbing.


Thibaudet Plays Gershwin

Sunday, August 4, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Piano, Artist-in-Residence

Bernstein:  Overture to Candide
Gershwin:  Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra
Respighi:  The Pines of Rome

Jean-Yves Thibaudet brings to life George Gershwin’s follow-on to Rhapsody in Blue. Gershwin packs this concerto full of jazz, blues, Charleston dance rhythms, and ragtime. Bernstein’s glittering Candide Overture opens the program, and Respighi brings it home with the thundering closing of Pines of Rome. If the ground doesn’t tremble under the marching of Rome’s triumphant legions, we’re not doing it right!


A French Evening with Gautier Capuçon

Monday, August 5, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Gautier Capuçon, Cello, Artist-in-Residence

Ravel/Neale:  Minuet from Sonatine for Piano
Saint-Saëns:  Concerto No. 1 in A Minor for Cello, Op. 33
Ravel:  La Valse

Music Director Alasdair Neale serves up a French sandwich with a hearty slab of Saint-Saëns nestled between slices of Ravel. First, we hear Neale’s orchestration of Ravel’s lovely and cheerful Minuet from his Sonatine for Piano. Then Capuçon, “the prototype of the romantic musician” (Washington Post), tackles Saint-Saëns’s brilliant Cello Concerto. Finally, we hear Ravel’s choreographic poem La Valse, which starts out cheerful like the Sonatine, but then turns malevolent, corrupting its graceful themes. Take that, lovely little minuet…


Beethoven’s 7th

Wednesday, August 7, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Sameer Patel, Conductor

Beethoven:  Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
Beethoven:  Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Richard Wagner tells you what you need to know about Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7: “All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance.” The Egmont Overture foreshadows the evening’s theme of triumph over oppression.


Beethoven and Shostakovich Quartets

Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:30 PM

Chamber Music
Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood

Edgar M. Bronfman String Quartet

Beethoven:  String Quartet, Op. 133, “Grosse Fuge”
Shostakovich:  String Quartet No. 14 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 142

The Edgar M. Bronfman String Quartet concludes its exploration of Beethoven’s late quartets with his Grosse Fuge, a monumental piece that began as the final movement of an earlier quartet but was so imposing that his publisher convinced him to publish it alone. It’s paired with Shostakovich’s 14th Quartet, wherein Shostakovich gave the lead role to the cello.


Family Concert: Kids’ Choice—5 Minutes That Made Me Love Classical Music

Saturday, August 10, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Sameer Patel, Conductor
Peter Henderson, Piano
Students from the Music Institute’s Advanced Chamber Orchestra

Grieg:  In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt
Brahms:  Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G Minor
Ravel:  The Fairy Garden from Mother Goose
Beethoven:  Adagio cantabile from Pathétique Piano Sonata
Tchaikovsky:  Excerpts from The Nutcracker
Dvořák:  Largo from Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”
Williams:  The Imperial March from Star Wars
Mussorgsky:  The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an Exhibition

Inspired by a popular New York Times article, “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music,” Festival musicians, their children, and Music Institute students were asked for ideas on what pieces made them fall in love with classical music. Their answers created this program.

Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony

Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor

Clyne:  Masquerade
Prokofiev:  Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

In 2014, the BBC Proms commissioned Anna Clyne to write an “exuberant” piece. She delivered Masquerade, which makes a perfect prequel for Prokofiev, who said he wanted his 5th Symphony to “sing the praises of the free and happy man—his strength, his generosity and the purity of his soul.” His optimistic symphony cheered its Russian audience at its premiere in 1944, and is one of the great orchestral works of the 20th century.


Mason Bates and Mozart

Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Jeremy Constant, Violin
Adam Smyla, Viola
Mason Bates, Composer-in-Residence

Mozart:  Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major for Violin and Viola, K. 364
Bates:  Liquid Interface

Mason Bates, Musical America’s 2018 Composer of the Year, returns for a week-long residency. In Liquid Interface, he uses the orchestra, recorded sounds, and electronics to evoke the soothing and menacing aspects of water in its various forms. Concertmaster Jeremy Constant and Principal Violist Adam Smyla open the program with Mozart’s Concerto for Viola and Violin. Mozart loved the viola as much as the violin, and this work showcases the range of the two instruments.


Pops Night: The Music of George Gershwin

Saturday, August 17, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra 
Teddy Abrams, Conductor and Piano
Morgan James, Voice
Alasdair Neale, Conductor

Hayman:  Armed Forces Medley

Selections from Porgy and Bess 
Rhapsody in Blue  
‘S Wonderful
I’ve Got A Crush On You
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Embraceable You from Girl Crazy 
Overture to Of Thee I Sing
I Got Rhythm from Girl Crazy

Former Sun Valley Music Festival Assistant Conductor Teddy Abrams returns to lead an all-Gershwin program. Singer, songwriter, actress, Broadway, and YouTube star Morgan James sings your favorite Gershwin songs, while Abrams himself takes to the keyboard for Rhapsody in Blue.


Music Inspired by Outer Space

Sunday, August 18, 2019, 6:30 PM

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Sameer Patel, Conductor
Sasha Cooke, Mezzo-Soprano
Mason Bates, Composer-in-Residence

Bates:  Devil’s Radio
Bates: Passage
Holst:  Excerpts from The Planets

Mason Bates brings back Devil’s Radio, an orchestral piece commissioned by the Sun Valley Music Festival for its 30th Anniversary in 2014. This year also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing with Passage, a piece Bates wrote for mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke that incorporates excerpts from John F. Kennedy’s “moonshot” speech. Finally, fly beyond the moon to Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in Holst’s character study of the solar system, The Planets.


Musicians’ Choice Chamber Music

Monday, August 19, 2019, 6:30 PM

Chamber Music
Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood
Deanna Badizadegan, Viola
Benjamin Freimuth, Clarinet
Roman Fukshansky, Clarinet
Eric Gaenslen, Cello
Marylène Gingras-Roy, Viola
Peter Henderson, Piano
Andrea Kaplan, Flute
Catherine Payne, Flute
David Premo, Cello
Elizabeth Prior, Viola
Bjorn Ranheim, Cello
Milana Elise Reiche, Violin
Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton, Harp
Susan Wulff, Double Bass
Alicia Yang, Violin

Vaughan Williams:  Phantasy Quintet for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello
Schulhoff:  Concertino for Flute, Viola, and Bass
Brahms:  Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano in A Minor, Op. 114
Ravel:  Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet, and String Quartet

Musicians of the Sun Valley Music Festival curate and perform a program of pieces they love.


Mahler’s 2nd Symphony

Thursday, August 22, 2019, 6:30 PM
Note:  This concert will last about 90 minutes

Festival Orchestra
Alasdair Neale, Conductor
Julie Adams, Soprano
Sasha Cooke, Mezzo-Soprano
American Festival Chorus, Chorus – Dr. Craig Jessop, Director

Mahler:  Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, “Resurrection”

Life, death, and rebirth. Mahler’s modest ambition to express the totality of the human condition journeys through love, hope, nostalgia, humor, despair, a face-melting shriek of death, and finally a glorious resurrection. Does it succeed? Alasdair Neale recalls his first hearing at age 13: “It rocked my world – I had never imagined music could have that level of visceral, emotional impact.”

“Everything comes together here to create truly moving musical experiences—whether you're a devoted classical music fan, or just out for a great evening.

The elevation, mountains, trees, endless sky—combined with the most welcoming of communities—inspires me and all our musicians to bring the ideas and passions of composers from across the centuries to life."

—Alasdair Neale, Music Director

Sun Valley Summer Symphony celebrates its 35th season and Music Director Alasdair Neale outside in front of mountain