It is Symphony Season

Smile! It's Sun Valley Summer Symphony Season

Smile! It's Sun Valley Summer Symphony Season

Listen carefully and you will hear the telltale signs of the season – the slight creak of wicker picnic baskets settling with gourmet treats and a fine bottle of wine; the hiss of steam as hot iron meets linen; the sticky sound of rosin on a violin bow. If you haven’t already guessed, the season is Symphony Season, that glorious time of the year that began to unfurl its many delights Sunday night at the Sun Valley Pavilion.

The Sun Valley Summer Symphony brings together the finest musicians anywhere and invites patrons, free of charge, to find a seat under the Pavilion sail or on the vast lawn for a dose of cultural enjoyment that lasts the whole year through. This is the largest privately funded free symphony in America and 2013 marks its 29th magical summer in the Wood River Valley.

The magic happens beneath the Sun Valley Pavilion sail and also on the expansive lawn

The magic happens beneath the Sun Valley Pavilion sail and also on the expansive lawn

Sunday’s concert, held on what was arguably the most beautiful night of the summer to date, was a part of the Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus Series that precedes the regular concert season. Featuring members of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony including Maestro Alasdair Neale as Host and Conductor, Teddy Abrams as Host and Conductor, Nicholas Phan, Tenor and Gretchen Van Hoesen, Harp, the series, themed “The Sacred and the Profane: Spirituality Across the Globe and the Ages,” commenced with a performance of Ives’ The Unanswered Question. The In Focus Series continues July 29, July 31 and August 2 at 6 p.m.

Setting the stage for the inaugural evening and the weeks to come was Maestro Alasdair Neale who has led the Sun Valley Summer Symphony since 1995. Under his magic baton, the orchestra has grown to more than 100 players that present free concerts to more than 50,000 people annually. Maestro Neale’s orchestra includes distinguished and accomplished musicians from throughout North America including the San Francisco Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Toronto Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony.

Maestro Alasdair Neale shares his knowledge and passion with the In Focus audience Sunday night

Maestro Alasdair Neale shares his knowledge and passion with the In Focus audience Sunday night

Throughout the years, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony has attracted internationally acclaimed guest artists and ensembles including Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Brian Stokes Mitchell, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jon Kimura Parker, Bernadette Peters, Frederica von Stade, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang and many others.  This year, the world-famous violinist Midori will appear as a guest artist on August 4.  Other musicians, dancers, conductors and narrators will also grace the Pavilion stage this season in the role of guest artist.

In keeping with its mission, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony offers a variety of education programs for music students of all ages including the School of Music, now in its 14th year, and the Summer Music Workshops, in its 16th year. Upbeat With Alasdair talks given throughout the year and Concert Preview talks given during the symphony season help to educate music lovers of all ages.

Music from the best classical musicians in the world, blue skies and gourmet picnics -- it doesn't get much better than this

Music from the best classical musicians in the world, blue skies and gourmet picnics -- it doesn't get much better than this

The Orchestra festival begins on Sunday, August 4, at 6:30 p.m. and features Midori on the violin. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis inside the Pavilion. For those on the lawn, a 14 x 25-foot LED screen shows all Orchestra festival concerts from August 4 – August 20. Low back chairs and picnics are welcome on the lawn. New this year, there will be a kids’ music tent at every evening orchestra concert. For all the protocol of concert going, please click HERE.

If you are in Sun Valley during August, be sure to include the Summer Symphony in your schedule. Call ahead to the Short Line Deli in the Sun Valley Village and have them create a gourmet picnic for you, including wine if you so desire. Then find a spot on the lawn, close your eyes and prepare to be transported. There is something about live classical music in the mountains that you simply can’t replicate — a wonderful one-of-a-kind way to enjoy the best of Sun Valley.

–RES

It's free, it's fantastic. See you at the Symphony!

It's free, it's fantastic. See you at the Symphony!

Room from the Resort: The Symphony Cottage

The Symphony Cottage is nestled just down the hill from the Sun Valley Pavilion

As regular readers of this blog will know, I hail from the old country, where if you told someone they were going to be staying in a cottage they would expect a quaint, cozy abode complete with a chimney, gabled windows, and maybe a picturesque thatched roof. If they were planning on staying in Sun Valley Resort’s Symphony Cottage however, they might need to change those expectations.

For our fourth installment in the Rooms from the Resort series (where I take a peek inside the accommodations on offer at Sun Valley Resort, providing you with a traveller’s-eye-view of your Sun Valley vacation), we are pushing the word “room” to its limit.

A 7 bedroom mansion, the Symphony Cottage is pretty awesome. From a hot tub to a sauna, marble bathrooms to a wet bar, English country cottages would quake in their foundations at the sight of this palace.

At least one part of its name is apt however, the “cottage” sits right next to the Sun Valley Pavilion, making it the perfect accommodation for (a large group of) symphony-goers or any party looking to enjoy the summer’s many performances in the state-of-the-art facility, just steps from their front door.

Here are some pictures I snapped from inside the grandest accommodation on offer at Sun Valley Resort:

The "cottage" door is a beautiful piece of art work.

The interior of the door features a stunning sun motif, which is carried on throughout the cottage.

An elaborate stone fireplace (one of three in the house) dominates the living area.

The large split-level living room is decorated in traditional Lodge style.

One of the seven bedrooms in the cottage.

This tub could fit the entire Sun Family!

The spacious deck/patio area offers a great space for entertaining while listening to the sounds emanating from the nearby Pavilion.

Despite being located in the middle of the resort, there's a real feeling of rural living in the "cottage," with lovely views of Dollar Mountain over Sun Valley Lake.

If you are planning on staying here, drop me a line, I’d love to come hang out!

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: Priced from $1,000 – $2,200 a night (price varies based on season and weekend versus weeknights), the cottage is newly renovated and offers seven bedrooms, lake view and hot tub, and a sunken living room complete with a wet bar. The 7 bedrooms include 3 King, 2 Queen, 2 Doubles and 1 couch bed. For more details click here or call 1.800.786.8259.


Cowboys, buggys and Ridley Pearson – just another Saturday in Sun Valley

Baby Sun with Grand Marshal Carol Knight in The Toy Store's 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade. Baby Sun loved the whole event, Little Sun (just behind her in the hat), not so much. "Mom, I'm not a girl." he complained to me.

This past Saturday in Sun Valley was the unofficial family day of the summer season. Over the past few years, two great family-friendly events have chosen to combine on this second Saturday of August, creating the perfect Saturday afternoon outing for myself and my two little ones. Thankfully, the dreadful smoke that had shrouded the valley the previous few days, caused by wildfires many miles away, was taking a much needed day off, providing the ideal afternoon for some fun in the sun.

Starting at 1:30 p.m. from outside the Sun Valley Inn, The Toy Store’s 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade saw a bevy of beautiful baby dolls all trussed up in their finest cowboy gear congregating for the traditional stroll down through the Sun Valley Village. The Sun family arrived a little late (as usual) and Baby Sun objected initially to being woken from her slumber. However, when she saw the cornucopia of dolls, dressed-up buggys and little girls, her delight was quite uncontrollable. When The Toy Store owner and parade Grand Marshal Carol Knight lent her her own baby doll, complete with fetching cowboy bandana, it was the icing on the proverbial cake and nothing could stop her now (not even a full orchestra and stone stairs… more on that later).

Ashley Brown of Ketchum pushes her gaily decorated buggy through the Sun Valley Mall. While the theme for this year's parade was Cowboy Bill, it was liberally interpreted. It's hard to separate a girl from her tutu!

The Doll Buggy Parade has been part of Wood River Valley life for more than three decades, moms strolling with their daughters today remembered when they were in the parade as children. Traditionally the trail of pushchairs, prams, strollers and anything with wheels that can carry a doll, winds its way from the Inn to the lawn outside the Sun Valley Pavilion, where it is greeted by the sounds of Sun Valley stalwart Tim Eriksen. Tim is a resort favorite, he has also been serenading guests, at The Roundhouse and Trail Creek Cabin, with his instrument of choice – the accordion, for many years. He told me that this gig is definitely one of his favorites.  ”I love playing for the children,” he said.

The much-loved accordion player Tim Eriksen delighted the parade participants with some cheerful tunes, warming them up for the fun to come...

Following the fun of the accordion, the gaggle of girls (and occasional boy) proceeded into the Sun Valley Pavilion, carefully parking their buggys alongside its outer walls, just in time for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s annual Family Concert. A lovely tradition, the family concert is designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of classical music, and each year this one concert is just for them. From an orchestra petting zoo to a far more relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect first experience for Little Sun (4 and a half). He was very excited to sit in his chair inside the pavilion, “read” his program and feel like a “grown-up boy.” Granted, the highlight of the event for him was the family behind us sharing their Goldfish crackers, but I’m sure some of the experience soaked in.

Little Sun, sitting in the Pavilion, was very proud of his "program" - an instruments of the orchestra guide and coloring book.

Baby Sun takes in the sounds and experiences of the Sun Valley Symphony. But not her seat.

For Baby Sun, hopped-up on dolls and balloons, sitting still was not an option, and while the family concert is a tolerant one, after 15 minutes of me chasing her up and down the exquisite stone stairways and walkways we bailed and headed for the freedom of the lawn. But not before she had delighted at clapping along with the crowds and stomping her feet in time with the original composition Board Games, a unique percussion piece performed with metal gloves and wooden board.

Once safely on the symphony lawn, we relaxed and enjoyed the performance of Cowboy Bill. An original piece receiving its world premiere at Sun Valley, Cowboy Bill is the brilliant result of the collaboration of Boston percussionist Alex Orfaly and Sun Valley’s favorite homegrown best-selling author Ridley Pearson, who performed his poem in person at the concert. As conductor Alasdair Neale explains in this video, “It’s Peter and the Wolf meets the Wild West… it serves as an introduction to the orchestra… it highlights individual instruments and sections to introduce young people to the wonderful world of the symphony orchestra.”

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And it certainly did its job well, all the way home Little Sun was asking about Cowboy Bill and Bad Bob, the story had captured his imagination – and all without the aid of a television. Amazing! Catch some snippets of the music of Cowboy Bill here.

While a weary Sun family headed home, filled to the brim with music, dolls and ice-cream, we reflected on the extraordinary (and free!) afternoon we had had. Only in Sun Valley!

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

A delightful sight - baby doll buggys parked outside the Sun Valley Pavilion.


Tonight, Tuesday August 14, is the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s last 2012 performance. The season finale features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64 and begins at 6:30 p.m.

For more pictures from the parade visit The Toy Store’s Facebook page here.

A picture perfect summer in Sun Valley

Having spent the best part of the summer running around enjoying and sharing the sights and sounds of my Sun Valley summer, I decided it was about time I discovered some of your experiences of our fabulous mountain town. So, I spent an entertaining afternoon with two of my favorite buddies, Twitter and Instagram, and dug up a treasure trove of stories and images people have shared with the online world about their time in Sun Valley.

Thanks to the magic of Storify, I’ve collected a handful of these for you here, and if you have more to share please tweet me @jp2e.

A Social Sun Valley Vacation

Mrs. Sun rummaged through the world of social media to bring you some snapshots of real #SunValley vacations.

(Story not displaying properly? Click here.)

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Puppies, Sopranos & Picnics

 

Baby Sun prowls the pavilion lawn for puppies to pet at opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony season this Monday.

Monday brought my favorite evening of a Sun Valley summer, the opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. The glamorous soprano Deborah Voigt  lent her spectacular skills to an evening of Wagner, Wolf and Strauss.

Nestled snugly in a sliver of shade between the Pavilion lawn, where the serious symphony goers lounged, and the free-for-all behind us where children frolicked, the Sun family joined good friends for an evening of pizza, wine and sensational music.

Baby Sun is a year older, and a lot faster than she was at her first symphony visit, so my ability to completely enjoy the sounds wafting from the awesome orchestra were slightly hampered by her extreme excitement. What was capturing her attention, you ask? Dogs. Baby Sun’s first word was dog, and every time she spies a furry four-legged friend she squeals and rushes off to pet it. As any regular symphony attendee will know, dogs are almost a required accessory on the symphony pavilion lawn, and we were surrounded. There was a gorgeous golden retriever on one side, who patiently let Rose clamber all over her, and, yes, an actual puppy on the other side, whose owners seemingly brought him along to be “socialized.” As they were trailed by a band of children wherever they ventured, I think they succeeded.

Besides the secondary entertainment, Baby Sun did enter into the spirit of the evening, stopping mid-puppy-pat to clap whenever the crowd did, and even attempting to match Ms. Voigt’s thrilling arias with her own high-pitched squeals (I’m not seeing an operatic career in my daughter’s future). And therein lies one of the many things that makes the symphony so special, it caters to all. Nowhere else in the world can you enjoy world-class music for free, while relaxing on a lawn with a picnic and good friends, as your 4 year-old safely plays soccer a few feet away. It’s a unique Sun Valley experience.

For more from the first night of the season, the Symphony posted a slide-show on their Facebook page. And be sure to head there tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the second performance, featuring William VerMeulen on the horn. For a taste of the evening’s offerings, here are conductor Alasdair Neale’s video notes on the upcoming performance:

Video not displaying? Click here .

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

The symphony is back in town

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If there is one thing synonymous with summer in Sun Valley it’s the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. It is a Sun Valley original. There is no other place in the world where you can lie on a lawn surrounded by the peaks of the Pioneer, Smoky and Boulder mountains and soak up the sounds of a world class orchestra serenading you.

The symphony has been running for 28 seasons and is the largest privately funded free-admission symphony in America. It gathers together some of the best classical musicians in the country for two weeks every summer. There’ll be oboists from the Omaha Symphony, bassoonists from Baltimore, violinists from Des Moines, cellists from Fort Worth, as well as a slew of guest artists and soloists.

For me, the symphony is an annual must-do. Years ago, before Little Sun and Baby Sun were in the picture, I used to head to the lawn behind Sun Valley Lodge most every night for two glorious weeks in July and August. After a long day in the office, relaxing on the cool grass with a simple picnic garnished from Bald Mountain Pizza moments before, was simply heaven.

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Mr. Sun, who in our early days in the valley was a wildland firefighter, was always off protecting our forests during the summer months, so it wasn’t until last year that he finally got to share in my favorite summertime activity. We took the whole family along to the Pops evening on the first Saturday of the season. As with many musical events in Sun Valley, the symphony is very child friendly (if they get too rambunctious, an impromptu playgroup tends to form just out of earshot on the lawn). But on this evening my 3 year-old and 9 month-old were transfixed (probably all that classical music I played to them in the womb). Baby Sun was clapping and squealing along with the audience and Little Sun sat blessedly still for almost 15 whole minutes.

This year, I vow to try at least one night inside the Pavilion itself, I’ve always been reluctant to give up my much coveted spot on the lawn, but after my experience at the San Francisco Ballet’s performance earlier this month, I’m beginning to see the light.

Of course the lawn experience has been enhanced in recent years, with a large LED screen displaying the action inside for all the concerts, apart from the Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus series (which begins this Sunday). The season officially begins however, on Monday July 30 – and I’ll be there to cover it. See the full schedule here, but some highlights include Saturday, August 4th for Pops Night and the family concert the following Saturday that features the world premier of a Sun Valley Summer Symphony Commission, Cowboy Bill by Alex Orfaly. The performance also includes narration by writer Ridley Pearson. For the one night I may squeeze in up there without the children, my pick is Thursday, August 9, Musicians Choice Chamber Music, featuring Mozart and Brahms

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Orchestra concerts begin at 6:30pm, unless otherwise noted, and last 60-75 minutes. The Pavilion opens for concerts at 5:30pm. Pavilion seating is available from the East Entrance (West Lake Road) for each of the nine evening orchestra concerts. Ushers will direct the line for seating inside the Pavilion. Reserved seats will be released for general seating at 6:15pm.

Mrs. Sun’s guide to a fun-filled Fourth

Fire and Ice combine in Sun Valley for a rollicking good Fourth.

As I mentioned a few posts back, the one thing I hate about summer in Sun Valley is that there is simply not enough time to enjoy everything there is to do. The next eight days in the valley will prove me right as the Sun family embarks on a marathon of fun that will barely scratch the surface of what’s on offer. Having experienced it all a few times over, I thought I’d share my plan for getting the family through a week of exhaustive Fourth of July fun.

Saturday, June 30
We’ll kick the week off with a gentle morning in the Wood River YMCA pool, then head out for a family hike, the combination of which will ensure Little Sun and Baby Sun are happily tuckered out for the babysitter. This will allow Mr. Sun and I to enjoy a patriotic evening of pops and arias at the Sun Valley Summer Spectacular, featuring International Diva Alyson Cambridge (I wish I could be an International Diva – how does one get that job title?).

Sunday, July 1
In anticipation of the astounding defeat of Roger Federer by Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final next Sunday (a Brit can dream can’t she?), we’ll take our own future Wimbledon champ along to the Sun Valley Lyle Pearson Tennis Tournament to  pick up a few tips. We’ll then finish off the weekend with some locally-brewed beer and Idaho potatoes at Trail Creek Cabin’s Sawtooth Brewery Beer Dinner.

Monday, July 2
Born in the Wild West, Mr. Sun will insist on attending Family Night at the Days of the Old West Rodeo in Hailey. Not that I don’t enjoy rodeos, but having grown up in a city curiously bereft of the need to wrangle cattle I do find it all a little baffling (especially when they lasso those cute little calves). But as long as I can keep telling Little Sun he’s too young for mutton bustin’ all will be well (although I’m sure the fearless Baby Sun will sneak off on the first passing sheep). I’ll just have to console myself with gawping at the gorgeous Rodeo Queens.

Tuesday, July 3
The place to see and be seen (at least until the Symphony rolls in to town) on Tuesday nights is Ketch’em Alive. This low-key, free, weekly concert at Ketchum’s Forest Service Park is perfect for the whole family. Just one of the many reasons I simply love summer.

Wednesday, July 4
The big day itself. Being American-born and British-raised, Independence Day has always sat a little uncomfortably with my dual nationalities, but who doesn’t love a parade? And that’s where I’ll be come noon, jealously guarding a prime slice of Hailey Main Street real estate, ready to wave vigorously as Mr. Sun rolls by in a big red fire truck with Baby Sun and Little Sun dangling out the windows.  Then, after strapping the kids down for a nap to get them ready for the long night ahead, we’ll mosey on up to Sun Valley to watch 2011 US Gold Medalist Ryan Bradley spin in the first Sun Valley On Ice of the season, followed by the obligatory spectacular fireworks exploding over the Lodge.

Thursday, July 5
I will tolerate Mr. Sun’s efforts to turn my son into something other than a great British/American Wimbledon Champion by exposing him to the skills of the Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championship riders. The culmination of the week-long biking bonanza Ride Sun Valley, the championship races begin today on Baldy. We’ll watch as the best American cross-country, short track cross-country and Super D riders race for the chance to represent their country at the London Olympics (race start times).

Friday, July 6
Today, it will be Little Sun’s turn to show off his prowess on two wheels as he gets a chance to cover the same trails the pros do in the Ride Sun Valley Kid’s Mountain Bike Race. As you’ve no doubt gleaned by now I’m a bit of a nervous mother, and if it all gets too much for me I will head in to town for some wine and art at the superlative Sun Valley Gallery Association Gallery Walk.

Saturday, July 7
Time to ditch the highbrow (and the kids) for some good old fashioned partying at The Sun Valley Shakedown. There’s quite the line-up, but I’m particularly looking forward to the signature New Orleans-stylings of the Dirty 
Dozen
 Brass
 Band.

Sunday, July 8
Based on the fact that we have four times as many bikes in our house as people, the chances are high that the whole family will be back at Baldy today to see the culmination of the Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships. From the safety of the River Run Lodge we’ll be cheering on the insanely brave boys and girls careering down Baldy. As thrilling as that sight will be, it’s the one later this evening that I am most excited for. The week from will end in paradise as I watch angels dance on earth when the San Francisco Ballet‘s dancers, including the exceptional Maria Kochetkova, grace the stage of the Sun Valley Pavilion for one night only.

Then, if we actually manage to pull off a miracle and cram all this into one week, we’ll likely hibernate until winter rolls in (in about 2 weeks). But please do share, what will be missing out on? Where will you be this week?

Sun Valley Summer Symphony

Sun Valley Summer Symphony

Sunday, July 22 – Tuesday, August 14


The largest privately funded free-admission symphony in America, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony celebrated its 27th season in the glorious Idaho mountains last summer. Founded in 1985 as the Elkhorn Music Festival by Dr. Carl Eberl, professor emeritus at the College of the City University of New York, and his wife Julianne, the orchestra grew from 22 musicians to 55 at the time of his retirement. Under the leadership of Maestro Alasdair Neale since 1995, the orchestra has grown to more than 100 players and presents free concerts to over 50,000 people annually.

Sun Valley Summer Symphony Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus Series

Sun Valley Summer Symphony Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus Series

Sunday, July 22 – Friday, July 27

5:30m – 7:30pm

Up close and personal, the In Focus series invites audiences to go inside the music and explore a specific musical theme which encompasses each of four chamber music concerts.

Each evening begins at 5:30 pm with a talk led by Alasdair Neale to feature musical demonstrations, history and a discussion that will bring the following concert at 6:30 pm “In Focus.” Join us!

2011 Sun Valley Summer Symphony

For one month every summer, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the largest privately funded free admission symphony in America, calls the Sun Valley Pavilion home. Bring your blanket, low-backed chairs and cooler for lawn seating or sit inside the shady Pavilion for the concerts.

2011 Summer Concert Series- July 24-August 16
-Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus Series – July 24 – July 29
-Benefit Concert – July 31 (ticketed event, featured artist Jackie Evancho, Soprano)
-Orchestra Festival – August 1 – August 16
-Summer Music Workshops – August 1 – 5