Frequently asked summer questions:
Of course. On any given night, from 700 to 1,200 seats in the Pavilion are available on a first come, first served basis. The line forms at the East Entrance, and there are chairs, shade, and a bar to make the wait comfortable.
The Pavilion opens at 5:30 PM, one hour prior to the performance. If you have reserved seats, please be in them by 6:15 as the Festival releases these seats at that time. If you wish to line up for first come, first served seats, it’s hard to predict when to arrive—some patrons will line up quite early if they really want to get a seat. There is usually a bit of a line by 4:30-5:00 PM.
Please contact an usher (quietly) and they will help you find a seat during a suitable break in the performance. If you have reserved a seat, and it has been filled by someone else after the 6:15 PM deadline, our volunteer ushers will do their very best to find you seats as close as possible to your reserved seats.
Most concerts are between 50 and 75 minutes, without intermission. Anything longer than that will be noted in the program book.
Check out the program book and the Pre-Concert Chat. Jon Kochavi, Chair of the Music Department at Swarthmore College, writes notes for every concert in the program book. And, each evening before a performance, at 5:45 PM, the Festival offers a Pre-Concert Chat by the Paver Bar on the lawn.
Yes, families are welcome at all concerts. Programming is most appropriate for children over 10. Please make sure that any kids who sit inside the Pavilion are ready for a serious classical music concert.
As for dogs, they are most welcome on the lawn. If your pooches are on the active side, please consider sitting along the perimeter or at the back of the lawn. Only credentialed, assistance dogs are allowed in the Pavilion.
You are most welcome and encouraged to bring food and drink to the lawn. Inside the Pavilion, drinks and light snacks are available at the Resort-operated bars on the East and West Terraces, and you are welcome to bring these to your seat.
No recording (video or audio) or photography is permitted during the performance. Feel free to snap some shots before or after.
Please dress however you would like. Pavilion guests seem to gravitate toward “Sun Valley Casual” and usually bring a wrap or jacket in case it gets a bit chilly toward the end of the concert.
This is a hard one. Back in the old days, meaning the 18th and 19th centuries, audiences would talk, yell, and throw things during classical music concerts. In the 20th century, the pendulum swung the other way, with mean looks directed at anyone who so much as attempted a single clap between movements. In most cases, the composer’s intent was that the pause between movements is a time of reflection and silence as the transition to the next thing. Bottom line: do whatever makes you happy!
Your neighbors will. And probably the musicians, who could get distracted and miss a note, which would bother your neighbors even more…
The Sun Valley Music Festival installs a LARES sound system every summer on the lawn. A LARES system uses microprocessors and complex processing equipment to create a natural-sounding acoustic. The Festival hangs numerous microphones over the stage to pick up the sounds of all of the instruments and then sends the signals out to the network of speakers on the lawn. The purpose is not to amplify, but rather to create an acoustic on the lawn, with the sound of different instruments coming from different places, as you would hear if you were sitting inside the Pavilion.
The Screen on the Pavilion lawn is a 14×25-foot LED wall with imagery supplied by seven cameras inside the Sun Valley Pavilion. The Festival’s 8-member video production team includes camera operators, a technical director, cue caller, and screen engineer–plus all the camera equipment.
The Pavilion opened on August 3, 2008. The idea started with Earl Holding, owner of the Sun Valley Resort, in 2006. At that time, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony (previous name of the Sun Valley Music Festival) held its concert series under a tent on the lawn. The design for the Pavilion was inspired by its natural setting: the roofline mirrors the mountains and sky and is supported by a huge main truss, supporting a permanent copper header and steel cable net. A seasonal luminous tensile membrane (“the tent”) covers 1,564 seats, the stage, and support facilities. The surrounding landscape is sculpted into an undulating park gently elevated into a natural amphitheater, with views of Trail Creek Canyon, Dollar Mountain, and Bald Mountain.
Fun fact: the Pavilion contains over 1,000 tons of Mariotti travertine, from the Bagni di Tivoli quarry just east of Rome. Other structures featuring this travertine include the Roman Colosseum and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
It varies by concert and by piece within the concert. On the whole, the Festival brings about 110 musicians to Sun Valley each summer. On any given piece, there might be 60-100 on stage, depending on the composer’s instructions. For a chamber concert, there might be as few as 3 or 4. For a big symphony with a chorus, over 250 musicians will fill the stage!
Absolutely. The Festival pays each musician for each rehearsal and concert, and also reimburses them for travel and housing costs. Thanks to our amazing Housing Hosts, who welcome musicians into their homes, our housing costs remain pretty low.
Sleep! For about a week, anyway. After the summer season, the musicians head home to other work. Most are members of an orchestra in their home town. Some teach, others freelance. Alasdair Neale divides his time between his roles as Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Marin Symphony while staying in weekly contact with the staff here. The staff, which swells considerably during the summer, shrinks back to a full-time complement of about 10 people. They go to work on the “business” of running the nonprofit, ramp up the education programs that run during the school year, and get busy planning the next concert series.
The Festival could not operate without its amazing volunteers! Contact the office to find out about many different ways you can get involved, from helping at concerts to working in the office to assisting with education events.
Frequently asked winter questions:
You don’t! The Festival’s winter concerts are free. However, capacity will be limited each night so reservations are required. You may reserve up to two seats per household for one performance. Reservations are available beginning Wednesday, February 8 at 9:00 AM (Mountain Time) on the Festival website.
The Winter Season has become extremely popular! With a limited seating capacity (no lawn), every effort is made to present these exciting performances to as many people as possible. Remember, it’s the same performance each evening.
Yes. You will select where you would like to sit when you make your reservations. Please rest assured that there are no “bad” seats in the Argyros—all seats will have good views and excellent sound.
No. The performance will be the same each evening.
A small number of seats may be released each evening at the door. A line will form outside (or inside, if it’s really cold) and seats will be released beginning at 6:45 PM. Rush seating is first come, first served.
The performances will be about two hours long. Depending on the location of your restaurant, it should be safe to make a reservation for 9:30 PM. Or you may want to eat before the concerts, food will not be available for purchase at the Argyros.
The Argyros will offer beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for sale in the main lobby. Be sure to make dinner arrangements before or after the performance, food will not be available to purchase at the concerts.
Outside food and drinks are not permitted in the Argyros. Beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available to purchase before and during the performances.
To honor the intimacy of the work between students and Festival musicians, these events are closed to the public.
No video or audio recording or photography is permitted during the performance. Feel free to snap some shots before or after.
Please dress however you would like. Guests seem to gravitate toward “Sun Valley Casual,” and there is a coat check in the Argyros lobby for your winter gear.
The Festival could not operate without its amazing volunteers! Contact the office to find out about the many different ways you can get involved, from helping at concerts to working in the office to assisting with education events.