The Grand Teton Music Festival reported that its 60th summer concert series, held July 2 through Aug. 21, met or exceeded its expectations.
“I’m a little shocked how well we ended up doing,” said Executive Director Emma Kail, whose first season on the job in 2020 was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic. “Everything was working against us.”
Despite the persistent COVID-19 crisis, Kail said subscribers were up 25%, subscription income up 11% and chamber music income rose 25% over 2019, the festival’s previous record year. Twenty concerts sold out over the course of the season (although capacity at Walk Festival Hall was reduced by 50% to allow for some social distancing).
“While I received some pressure in late May and June to ‘fill up Walk Festival Hall’ beyond 50%, the feedback as the summer went on and the delta variant emerged was that our audience was very grateful for the lower capacity,” she wrote in an email.
Most important, not one case of COVID-19 was reported among festival musicians and guests.
“Remarkable, and a testament to our policy of being 100% vaccinated this summer,” she said.
A total of some 16,500 patrons heard concerts either in person or via livestream, matching 2019’s numbers.
“It’s different, not apples to apples,” Kail said, because 2019 did not have a livestream component, “but I think what it told me is how important the festival is to so many people.”
The last two orchestral programs of the year — Aug. 14’s with guest pianist Yefim Bronfman and Aug. 21’s with guest violinist Leila Josefowicz — were performed three times instead of the usual two, and the Saturday night performances were livestreamed and made available on GTMF.org for a short time, generating 1,693 and 1,350 views respectively.
Those livestreams add to a growing archive of concerts and segments that have been filmed and posted at GTMF.org. When the 2020 season was called off, Music Director Sir Donald Runnicles and the organization arranged to produce five “Music from the Mountains” virtual concerts. Over the winter of 2020-21, instead of its usual free community concert series, it recorded five “GTMF on Location” programs, featuring orchestra players in beautiful venues in their home towns.
Then there are about 10 “Beyond the Stage” segments, interviews with musicians and staffers and other glimpses at GTMF life, and nine “Backstage Pass” webisodes with festival folk chatting via Zoom about music and music making.
“What we learned, looking at numbers of where people watched from, is people really appreciated having another option,” Kail said. And viewers were not just from Jackson. “We have viewers from California, New York, even international.”
The festival is working with Wyoming PBS to make a one-hour program of Beethoven, Strauss, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Jessie Montgomery performed by the Festival Orchestra and guests Bronfman, Josefowicz and vocalist Julia Bullock. “Welcome Home: Grand Teton Music Festival 60th Season Highlights” is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Oct. 8 and 4 p.m. Oct. 10 on Wyoming PBS.
Other ways to relive this past season as well as music from other summers in Teton Village include radio broadcasts, set to resume this winter, at 8 p.m. each Wednesday on Wyoming Public Radio and its 24-hour classical station Classical Wyoming, and at 4 p.m. each Sunday on Classical Wyoming.
Four seasons of “Live from the Grand Teton Music Festival” programs also are available via podcast at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music.
GTMF.org has season highlights going back to 2021 archived under its “Watch & Listen” tab, which also links to its YouTube and Spotify channels and an Instagram gallery.
So while Kail and her crew have already turned their attention to planning eight full weeks for the festival’s 2022 season, there’s plenty of classical music from Walk Hall to check out. ￼