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Songs of Summer: The Grand Teton Music Festival

January 20, 2015 |

Grand Teton Music FestivalOne of the world’s most unique and exquisite venues for the performance of immortal classical masterpieces, the Grand Teton Music Festival attracts visitors from all around the world.

This venerable tradition, launched way back in 1962, treats audiences to sublime melodies–Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Liszt–in the sort of wilderness landscape that can really stand up to them: the soaring peaks of the Teton Range, looming above the wildlife-rich valley of the Snake River.

The orchestra is composed of leading classical musicians from all over the country, and throughout its history has been helmed by conductors of the highest quality. Maestro Donald Runnicles, who’s wielded the baton since 2006, is no exception: Alongside his summertime duties in Jackson Hole, Runnicles directs the Deutsche Oper Berlin and serves as chief and principal guest conductor of the BBC SSO and Atlanta Symphony, respectively.

A One-of-a-kind Concert Setting

The earliest incarnation of Grand Teton Music Festival had dramatically rustic digs: a canvas-walled tent below the Teton summit of Rendezvous Mountain. Launched by the Jackson Hole Fine Arts Festival, the concert series truly began coming into its home when Ling Tung became its director in 1968. He saw Jackson Hole as the ideal summertime home for first-class musicians from symphonies across the U.S.

Walk Festival Hall–named for Tung’s wife, Margot Walk–opened its doors in 1974. Entirely crafted from wood, the facility is renowned for its pristine acoustics. Still perched at the foot of Rendezvous Mountain beside the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Gondola, Walk Festival Hall is a landmark of Teton Village.

Enjoying the Music

The Grand Teton Music Festival serves up a rich feast of musical offerings throughout the summer. If you’re traveling to Jackson Hole in July or August, you should be well-poised to take in an unforgettable performance!

You can see this year’s lineup of performers, programs, and special events at the Grand Teton Music Festival website. Traditionally, the festival’s opening week is highlighted by the special 4 th of July celebration, Music In The Hole, when the orchestra commemorates America’s birth with classic patriotic tunes. Though the show’s free, tickets are required and tend to go quickly; snatch some up when the festival starts distributing them in spring.

The full Grand Teton Music Festival orchestra performs on Friday and Saturday evenings in Walk Festival Hall. Smaller but equally captivating performances mark weeknights: “Inside the Music” on Tuesdays sees musicians explain the stories behind the works they’re playing, while Thursday’s “Chamber Music” program features intimate, pared-down ensembles. Ahead of the weekend concerts, you can watch the orchestra in open rehearsal on Fridays.

Other regular July and August events include family concerts and the “GTMF Presents” series, where guest artists explore the cutting-edge of the classical genre.


You can purchase tickets for the Grand Teton Music Festival at the website, by calling 307-733-1128, or by visiting the Fritz Box Office in Walk Festival Hall. The box office is generally open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday during the summer, as well as during evening concert intermissions. (In the off-season, you can contact the Festival via their year-round office at 4015 N. Lake Creek Drive #100 in Wilson.)

Luxury hotels in the greater Jackson area, such as the White Buffalo Club (WhiteBuffaloClub.com), offer great options for concert accommodations.

You can reach Walk Festival Hall by both public transportation and personal vehicle: Jackson Hole’s START Bus has a stop at the concert venue, and the Village and Cody parking lots in Teton Village offer convenient access. You can also take advantage of valet parking for the Friday and Saturday shows.

Cap a day spent basking in the alpine beauty of the Teton Range with a world-class concert at the Grand Teton Music Festival!

Jerry Williams is a father of four and avid writer. He loves to visit as many music festivals as possible, and then he shares the experience by posting on the web. You can read his entertaining and informative articles on a number of websites today.

Image by jk.photos under CC license


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