It seats 1,500 people, but organizers estimated that more than twice that number turned out Sunday night to witness the grand opening of the new Sun Valley Pavilion, a state-of-the-art concert amphitheater that will serve as the permanent home of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony.
Just two years after Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding promised a symphony crowd that he would build a new facility at the resort to host the summer concerts, Holding and his wife, Carol, returned to unveil the final product: an impressive, artistic structure with superior acoustics.
Before a crowd that sprawled out of the pavilion and far onto the lawn in front of the structure, Carol Holding told stories of her husband's determination to build one of the finest concert facilities in the West, despite being challenged by the ongoing effects of a stroke years ago. She said she and her husband spent numerous hours ensuring the project was built to the resort's standards, including a trip to the famous Mariotti quarry, north of Rome, Italy, to select the finest travertine stone to cover the exposed concrete on the site. The Mariotti quarry also supplied the stone for the Colosseum amphitheater, one of grandest relics of the Roman Empire.
Mrs. Holding repeated one of Earl's long-held tenets of management.
"You don't get what you expect. You get what you inspect," she said.
Minutes later, the symphony started its first performance of the 2008 outdoor summer concert season, highlighting the work of Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Guests, especially those inside the pavilion, raved about the quality of the sound.
Wally Huffman, general manager of Sun Valley Co., and Carol Nie, president of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, also spoke about the importance of the new structure, to the resort and to the symphony organization. Huffman said the resort plans to use the facility for a range of events that could include pop concerts, readings and lectures.
For now, though, the site will be dominated by the world-class symphony, directed by Alasdair Neale. Concerts, all of them free except for one benefit concert, will continue on select days through Monday, Aug. 18.
The new pavilion is only one of several multi-million-dollar projects being built at the resort. Sun Valley Co. is preparing to unveil its new White Clouds Golf Course and a luxury clubhouse for golfers and Nordic skiers. The resort is also remodeling the Roundhouse day lodge on Bald Mountain and is preparing to start construction on a new gondola to access the historic lodge.
Take in a show
The Sun Valley Summer Symphony continues to celebrate its new home at the Sun Valley Pavilion with several performances featuring special guest artists. In addition to the symphony's fundraising event with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Denyce Graves on Saturday, Aug. 9, the symphony welcomes Bill VerMeulen, Brian Thomas, Tod Bowermaster and Lisa Conway on solo horns. The symphony will perform Schumann's "Concertstück for Four Horns in F Major, Opus 86" and Respighi's "Feste Romane." This evening is "Date Night," a new pilot program with the YMCA, which will provide activities for children ages 5-11 during performances. To reserve a space, call 622-5607, ext. 12.
Special guest artist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will play piano on Thursday, Aug. 7, at 6:30 p.m. The evening's performance will include Ravel/Neale's "Minuet from Sonatine for Piano" and Ravel's "Concerto for Piano in G Major' and Debussy's "La Mer."
Pianist Orion Weiss will be the symphony's special guest artist on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 6:30 p.m. The evening's performance will include Mozart's "Concerto for Piano No. 17 in G Major, K. 453" and
Mozart's "Symphony No. 38 in D Major, K. 504, 'Prague.'"
In addition, there will be a Chamber Music Concert at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12. The performance will include Mozart's "Kegelstatt Trio" with Peter Henderson on piano, Ben Freimuth on clarinet, Morris Jacob on viola, Golijov Mariel and Bjorn Ranheim on cello and Charles Settle playing marimba, which is a xylophone.
The performance will also include Brahms' "String Quintet in G Major Op.111" with Rudy Kremer and Asako Kuboki on violin, Uri Wassertzug and Marylene Gingras-Roy on viola and David Premo on cello.
For details, visit svsummersymphony.org.