About Us

Our History

In August, 2012 The Festival at Sandpoint will celebrate its 30th season of music in Sandpoint. What began in 1982 as a quest by a few pioneering and visionary classical music lovers to bring symphonic music to their town of 5,000, has expanded to become one of the largest arts organizations in Idaho. As The Festival has grown it has continued to honor its original mission to bring classical music to the area, however, it has expanded its vision to include quality jazz, blues, folk, world, and popular music. The Festival now draws audiences upwards of 20,000 per season throughout the region to its diverse and eclectic summer concert series, presented on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille.

The Festival at Sandpoint, like Sandpoint, defies categorization. Audiences have enjoyed everything from Alexander Toradze & The Spokane Symphony to B.B. King, from Tony Bennett to Lyle Lovett, from John Prine to George Benson, from Nancy Griffith to The Blind Boys of Alabama, and from Brian Setzer Orchestra to Wynton Marsalis. The Festival has endeavored to bring great music of all genres to its hometown, making Sandpoint a great place to live and a great place to visit.

In addition to its summer concert series, The Festival at Sandpoint offered a summer music institute from 1985-1996 under the guidance of Artistic Director Maestro Gunther Schuller. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Music, a MacCarthur Foundation "Genius" Award, two Guggenheim fellowships, the Darius Milhaud Award, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Award, three Grammy Awards and many other honors, Mr. Schuller developed, nurtured and expanded the Schweitzer Institute of Music, offering advanced study to young professional musicians in the areas of composition, chamber, jazz and conducting.

The Festival at Sandpoint launched its 5th Grade Music Outreach Program in 1999, giving the organization's educational mission a new, local focus. Now going into its fifth year, this successful program serves all 5th grade students in Bonner and Boundary County schools, both public and private. Home schooled students are invited to participate as well.

The school workshops are led by local pianist Judy Heraper, who coordinates the program, and Maestro Gary Sheldon who comes to Sandpoint as a special guest narrator, assisted by Verne Windham of KPBX Spokane fame. The workshops also featured performances of excerpts from the Festival's classical concerts and a study guide is sent home with each child to share the experience with their family. The 2005 ensemble of musicians included: Aurora Adamson, Hanna Beggs, Rhonda Bradetich, Diana Clemons, Caytlin Driggars, Max Held, Judy Heraper, Traci Kutzleb, Caitlin McSherry, Jan Morganstern, Jim Sanberg, Stephanie Tintinger and Julie Wade.

As The Festival looks to the future its hope is to continue to make great artists and great performances accessible to the community and surrounding region in an intimate setting which shares the beauty and charm of Sandpoint, Idaho. The Festival at Sandpoint offers music and nature at its finest. It is rare for a town of 6,000 to host world-class music year after year. Without a doubt, Sandpoint, Idaho is an arts town, and one of the best for its size in America.

Call (208/265-4554), fax (208/263-6858) or E-mail us for more information! Just leave your name and physical address (not to be confused with your e-mail address) with your request for information.