Arts July 17, 2008

Rebirths and Revisions In the Arts

Culture doesn't end when school does. A few of summer's prime offerings in music, theatre and art.

The mountains’ majesty, the roaring rivers, the ever-present sun. Sun Valley is enough to visit for its natural amenities and those assets have inspired such incredible art opportunities for those who merely express an interest. The arts community here has it all, from professional theatre, to community festivals, art shows and galleries, street fairs and concerts. This year finds the arts in a period of unprecedented growth. Here’s a glimpse of what is on the horizon.

Sun Valley Summer Symphony: A very special summer concert series

Constructed over the winter after being the recipient of one of the largest amounts of concrete ever poured in the state of Idaho, the Sun Valley Music Pavilion built by Sun Valley Company with a $3 million contribution by Sun Valley Summer Symphony (SVSS), seats its first audience on Sunday, August 3.

For the occasion, SVSS Music Director Alasdair Neale has commissioned a short, dramatic piece by Kevin Puts, one of the top composers in the country and one of the few composers able to make a living solely by writing music.

“He’s doing a celebratory fanfare piece of eight to 10 minutes for the Sunday, August 3, opener,” executive director Jennifer Teisinger says. “Then Gil Shaham plays the Brahms Violin Concerto and the orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. We can hardly wait.”

Teisinger said the Music Pavilion, a seasonal structure built with the superior acoustics of wood, will be nothing like the white tent that has been the flagship for SVSS for more than 15 years. In honor of the new facility, SVSS has scheduled more guest artists than usual, including violinist Joshua Bell.   

Pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Orion Weiss will also play. This year, Guest Conductor Erich Kunzel puts together a pops concert with an Olympic theme.

The 14 free-admission concerts offered by the Sun Valley Summer Symphony are only the beginning for the Music Pavilion. Sun Valley Co. plans to bring performers into the space as well as rent it to other organizations. For instance, when the SVSS leaves, the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference will take over.

Built with two soaring arches and a fabric roof reminiscent of a tent, the new facility will seat 1,500 people inside. Thousands more people will be able to bring picnics and look into the Pavilion while the orchestra plays. With the tent, the orchestra was not visible to those sitting outside. The building sits near the intersection of Dollar Road and West Lake Road in Sun Valley, with a carpet of grass extending on the north side.

“It’s something like the Sydney Opera House,” says Mark Hofman, community development director for the city of Sun Valley. “Not as big, but definitely as dramatic.”

The facility has been designed with such capacity and sound quality that the full 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be able to perform in the Music Pavilion for the annual fund-raiser concert on August 9, a feat that would have been impossible in the former tent.

“I’d certainly call it the art event of the summer,” says Teisinger. >>>


Arts Expand in Hailey: Galleries, theatre and shops plan a big July

When July rolls around, people will be crying “Art” and “Hailey” in one breath.

The city of Hailey this spring threw its support to the arts by declaring July as “Art Month in Hailey” through an official proclamation by Mayor Rick Davis. Other businesses in Hailey that don’t sell art will have sculptures displayed at their front doors to show support for art and artists.

For Harold Webb and Pat Robinson Webb, 25 years of experience is paying off, and it makes them happy.

As owners of Blue Heron Workshop Framing Gallery, they’ve wanted to have more art galleries in Hailey, and create a more lively art scene south of Sun Valley.

“It’s starting slowly, but we’re getting there,” says Pat Robinson Webb.

Webb said many businesses in Hailey, while not actual galleries, hang original art on the walls to promote artists. Notes Music at 221 River Street is one of them, along with Bungalow at 151 Main Street.

Even the Bead Shop at 7 Bullion Street shows off artists, and so does The Loft on Main Street. Blue Heron, the Toneri Hink Gallery and Studio 3 Eleven are the most traditional places to show art, but really, Hailey isn’t very traditional.

Webb says for most of the month of July, business owners who have twice banded together for a Hailey Art Walk, most recently in the middle of December, will offer special events such as musicians on site to lure people inside to check out art on the wall.

They also plan to stay open later at night and make shopping an event complete with art of all sorts.

Poetry readings might surface as part of the art extravaganza in July, too.

“We just want creative people to be noticed,” says Webb.

Creative people have been getting plenty of notice at Alissa McGonigal’s business, The Loft, located next to Sun Valley Brewing Company at 202 North Main Street.

David Seelig’s photographs of rock musicians have been displayed on the walls there, along with numerous paintings by local artists. Initially opened as a yarn shop with unique fibers for sale, The Loft has become a sort of gallery and a definite gathering place for artists.

In addition to classes in knitting and purling and formation of the Kids Knit Club, McGonigal is open to hearing from artists and maybe even showing their work on the walls.

Company of Fools’ Summer Fools Festival will be comprised of Noises Off by Michael Frayn, which has been called the funniest farce ever written, and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s hauntingly beautiful musical Violet and the grippingly fascinating drama, Collected Stories, by Donald Marguiles. 

Capping off the festival the Company will present a new drama, yet to be announced, that will be the type of theatre Company of Fools is known for—relevant, intriguing and heartfelt. The Company engages both the finest of local actors and outstanding guest artists to bring these plays to life in a comfortable, intimate setting. >>>


Theatre: Breathing life into Will Shakespeare

William Shakespeare lived four centuries ago, but his spirit still prevails each summer at the Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road. 

Not only at night, when the Sun Valley Shakespeare performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” runs, but for two entire days during the Sun Valley Renaissance Faire, the modern world disappears in this little slice of Sun Valley.

For the second year in a row, the plays are performed in the open air alongside the famed Sun Valley Company horse pasture on Sun Valley Road, starting in daylight and ending in the dark. With the costumes and language of Elizabethan England on stage, another time and place takes over.

Like the groundlings in Shakespeare’s day, the audience members often bring dinner along with them, although they don’t generally throw their chicken bones at the actors.

“History comes alive for that weekend,” says Prue Hemmings, director of the Renaissance Faire. “We re-create the times of William Shakespeare.”

Swashbuckling pirates, Robin Hood-style archery contests, knights on horseback jousting in the fashion of medieval times, dancing maidens and a king and queen on display are only part of the fun.

Authentic food including sausage, toffee apples, rich ales and sweetmeats sells at booths, along with reproduction weapons, cavalier hats and jerkins.

An entire tent selling costumes for jousting along with leather dresses for the ladies allows amateurs to outfit themselves for the occasion and mingle with performers. Demonstrations of archery skills, weaving talents, the blacksmith trade and bagpiping take place throughout the two days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Two hundred volunteers perform comedy skits, play the part of the royal court, run medieval carnival games for children and staff clothing and food booths while galloping horses shake the ground and the language of Shakespeare fills the air.

Hemmings says 2,500 people attended the Sun Valley Renaissance Faire in 2006. This year, adults will be able to pay $10 to step back in time during the day, and then buy a ticket for Shakespeare in the meadow. Children are not charged admission to the Faire.

“You can take a weekend away from the modern world,” says Hemmings.

It really feels like Queen Elizabeth might be watching.

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.