In February 2019, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony hosted its first ever Winter Festival. The contradiction in seasonal terms may have contributed to the ensuing decision to rename the nonprofit organization the Sun Valley Music Festival in an effort to capture the entity’s expanded year-round programming.
The second iteration of the Winter Festival is just around the corner, taking place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27-29, at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum. Each performance begins at 6:30 p.m. and, like nearly everything the symphony puts on, is presented free of charge, though reservations are required as space is limited. Only a scant array of rush seats may be available night-of, but the music festival makes no guarantees.
This limited winter series—complete with a secretive program and an impressively versatile approach to the concert space—is certainly the most large-scale expansion of the festival’s offerings, but not the only one by a longshot.
Another noteworthy offering is the popular Upbeat With Alasdair lecture series. Musical Director and conductor Alasdair Neale regularly takes to The Community Library lecture hall for a free talk on various topics, often with a guest. Just recently, he spoke on Beethoven. The year 2020 is the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth and, as such, he will feature heavily in the symphony’s summer series.
Just a couple of days before the music festival’s winter season kicks off, The Community Library will host another rendition of Upbeat With Alasdair.
Neale will, as usual, take center stage in the library’s lecture hall, but this time he will bring with him special guest Edwin Outwater, another accomplished conductor. The pair will lead a program titled “Life as a Conductor, a Chat With Friends and Colleagues Alasdair Neale and Edwin Outwater,” which will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
At this point, Neale has become almost ubiquitous to the Sun Valley music scene as he enters his 26th year as music director and primary conductor of the Sun Valley Music Festival. At this point, an introduction feels unnecessary.
Outwater, on the other hand, while a longtime friend of Neale’s and no stranger to the area, may be less well known to local music lovers. He is music director laureate of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario and frequently collaborates with the San Francisco, Chicago, National, Virginia and New World (Miami) symphonies.
“It’s so rare to have the opportunity to sit down with a fellow conductor and talk about what we do and how we do it,” Neale said. “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend time with than my friend and colleague Edwin Outwater, and I hope audience members bring us their questions.”
Outwater echoed Neale’s excitement ahead of the library event, saying, “Alasdair is a dear friend and close colleague. We’ve spent many hours together discussing the art of conducting—at dinners in San Francisco, on hikes in Sun Valley and now with the wonderful Sun Valley Music Festival supporters.”
Between the Upbeat event and his role as conductor and curator of the upcoming winter season, Outwater will surely not remain a stranger to Sun Valley symphonygoers.