Grand Teton Music Festival Extends Contract of Music Director Donald Runnicles and 2021 Festival Highlights

Grand Teton Music Festival Extends Contract of  Music Director Donald Runnicles to 2026

Five-Year Extension Brings Maestro Runnicles’ Tenure with the Festival to 20 Years

GTMF Makes Plans for Summer 2021, the Festival’s 60th Season, including Seven Weeks of Live, In-Person Concerts

JACKSON, WY, December 11, 2020 – The Grand Teton Music Festival Board of Directors has announced a five-year extension of Music Director Donald Runnicles’ contract, effective through 2026, bringing his tenure with the Festival to 20 years.

“The artistic growth of the Grand Teton Music Festival over the past 15 years is due to the outstanding musical leadership of Sir Donald Runnicles. We greatly look forward to the continuation of Maestro Runnicles’ tenure, as he delivers exceptional performances with our beloved Festival Orchestra for our community,” said Board Co-Chairs John Costello and Barbara McCelvey.

“These years with the extraordinary GTMF Festival Orchestra have been a defining period in my life, both musically and personally. I’m grateful for the board’s support, thrilled for the future, and incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved together,” said Runnicles. “I’m looking forward to having us all come back together next summer, our 60th season, when we return home to the Festival we love. It’s my honor and privilege to make music and share it with our extended family in the beautiful surroundings of Jackson Hole.”

“Sir Donald Runnicles is one of the most significant musicians in the symphonic and operatic world—and he calls Jackson Hole his home away from home. A well-respected collaborator, I’m honored to partner with him for the next six seasons and to continue to build the legacy of our Festival as one of the world’s greatest,” said Executive Director Emma Kail.

“Since I first met Donald in 2006 in Atlanta, I immediately appreciated his collaborative spirit and authentic approach to making great music. I’m excited that he will continue his tenure here as music director, promoting the same spirit of collaboration and authenticity with GTMF. This is what is at the heart of our Festival, connecting with others through the power of music. Cheers to Donald and the board for an even brighter future,” said Tom Hooten, GTMF board member, Festival Orchestra musician and principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

In recent news, Donald Runnicles and Deutsche Oper Berlin have received a GRAMMY® nomination in the category of “Best Opera Recording” for the Naxos live recording of Alexander von Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg (The Dwarf). Runnicles was also knighted for his service to music, as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020.

2021 Festival Highlights – 60th Season

GTMF’s 2021 season—to be held from July 4 through August 21—is the Festival’s 60th. The seven-week festival kicks off with its popular July 4th Concert, to be held outdoors. The first two weeks of the Festival include outdoor performances for larger audiences and then returns to socially distanced, indoor performances for five weeks at Walk Festival Hall. Concert programs feature guest artists cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, pianist Yefim Bronfman and violinist Leila Josefowicz. Other Festival highlights include a world premiere by composer Melody Eötvös and a concert of opera highlights with world-renowned soloists. Stéphane Denève and Miguel Harth-Bedoya return as guest conductors and Gemma New makes her debut. The world-class talents of the Festival Orchestra musicians are featured in a weekly chamber music series at Walk Festival Hall. Select chamber music and orchestral performances will be streamed online. More details will be released in February 2021.

The Festival is developing health and safety protocols to ensure a safe environment for performers, audience members, staff, and volunteers. Measures may include the adjustment of venue capacity and seating plans and the presentation of shorter concerts without intermissions and wearing masks. Quick and regular testing of musicians and staff will occur throughout the Festival. Plans will adjust in response to public health measures as they evolve, both before the full February announcement and leading up to the summer.

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About the Grand Teton Music Festival (GTMF)
Over seven weeks each summer, Grand Teton Music Festival unites over 200 celebrated orchestral musicians led by Music Director Donald Runnicles. These musicians represent over 60 orchestras and nearly 50 institutions of higher learning throughout Europe and North America.

Grand Teton Music Festival is one of America’s leading summer classical music festivals. Recognized by The New York Times as one of the top 10 music festivals in the U.S. and chosen by BBC Music Magazine as their 2020 “Festival Choice,” it is the most prominent arts organization in the state of Wyoming and a national treasure. As the single largest performing arts presenter in Jackson Hole with nearly 100 annual events, GTMF presents yearlong programming that includes monthly community concerts, a Winter Festival, the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series and education programs for Teton County students. For more information, visit

About Sir Donald Runnicles, OBE
Sir Donald Runnicles is Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 Maestro Runnicles also took up the post as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s first ever Principal Guest Conductor. Additionally, he holds the title of Conductor Emeritus of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, having served as Chief Conductor from 2009–16. For more information, visit

Press Contact
Patricia Price
Managing Director, 8VA Music Consultancy

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