While artists and venues have tried to make due with virtual performances over the past year, nothing can replace the shared thrill of an in-person concert. That goes not only for pop stars but for orchestras. With music festivals set to make a comeback this summer, here are three orchestral concert series that send world-class musicians onto stages with spectacular Rocky Mountain backdrops.
Sun Valley Music Festival
Famous for attracting Hollywood royalty (Ernest Hemingway, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger), Sun Valley, Idaho, is also home to the largest admission-free classical music festival in the U.S. An ensemble of more than 100 orchestral pros comes together from around the country, led by veteran music director Alasdair Neale, to perform symphony and chamber concerts at the outdoor Sun Valley Pavilion. This summer’s program includes standard masterpieces as well as the world premiere of Five Freedom Songs, a reflection on the legacy of the African-American spiritual by violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery.
July 26–August 19, svmusicfestival.org
Bravo! Vail Music Festival
Set at the base of Vail’s ski runs, the open-air Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater provides a beautiful setting for the Bravo! Vail Music Festival. This year, four first-class orchestras—Academy of St Martin in the Fields (June 24–27), the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (June 30–July 5), the Philadelphia Orchestra (July 9–17), and the New York Philharmonic (July 21–28)—will perform works by composers ranging from Mozart to Florence Price and Valerie Coleman (whose Seven O’Clock Shout was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra to honor frontline workers). Festival artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott says this year’s edition is “the one we are maybe most grateful for in our lifetime.”
June 24–August 4, bravovail.org
Grand Teton Music Festival
Returning for its 60th season, the Grand Teton Music Festival once again graces Jackson Hole, Wyoming, right next to Grand Teton National Park. This idyllic summer retreat attracts nearly 200 top musicians from around the country, led by internationally renowned music director Sir Donald Runnicles. The first week of concerts for this year’s “Welcome Home” season—including “Film Music Spectacular” and “Patriotic Pops”—will be held outside, in downtown Jackson’s Center for the Arts Park, before the orchestra begins six weeks of chamber music performances at Teton Village’s 750-seat, all-wooden Walk Festival Hall, which has been updated with a state-of-the-art air-filtration system.
July 2–August 21, gtmf.org