Britt Festival: Concerts under the stars in Jacksonville, OR
What is your favorite concert venue and why? Ever since I was a young girl, I have been a patron of the Britt Festival. Each Spring, I log into the Britt website and research each and every upcoming performer. Some are major stars while others are up and coming (which can be the best at any given time). You can pack a personal picnic or choose from one of the many local food vendors on the hill. Better yet, you can bring your own beer and wine! The pavilion view gives you amazing sound with a sunset, full moon and bright shining stars. All these things paired with live music and friends is a perfect formula for an amazing time.
History of Britt & More
The Britt all started with a makeshift stage in 1963, simply consisting of plywood and tin can lights strung above, erected by a group of volunteers in the community of Jacksonville, Oregon. In just over a decade, the permanent stage was constructed and ten years later, bench seating was added. Since then, accessibility additions have been made as well as improvements to concessions and grounds. Having the capacity to comfortably accommodate 2,200 people, this venue enables the community to experience world-class artists in the most intimate atmosphere.
This year, the Northwest held their first summer outdoor music festival with a small chamber orchestra deriving from the brilliant idea of two men from Portland only a year before. Conductor John Trudeau and his friend Sam McKinney visited southern Oregon with the dream of starting a music festival. The former hillside estate of Peter Britt was just the spot they were looking for. Immediately, they noticed the potential for concerts from the resonance that would soon take place on the grassy hill which is known by concert goers as the Britt hill.
During the “Britt Season” there is an annual two-week long classical line-up, which has a full range of multi-genre series of performances encompassing all tastes to enjoy throughout the warm nights of Southern Oregon. Over the past few years an additional side stage, known as the Table Rock City stage, features local artists prior to the main event and during the pre-show. This is a great way to highlight some of our up-and-coming talent in the Rogue Valley as well as give the patrons more activity as they wait for the main performance. Performing on this stage is an excellent opportunity for musicians to connect with new audiences, while the connection to the community is fueled by these relationships created with local artists.
Not only does this venue cater to the thriving music lover scene, it includes an arts education and outreach program. Each year, they continue to focus on the happiness of the patron’s experience and cannot do that without the help of their annual volunteers, members, interns, donors and contributors! The wonderful thing about this is that they recognize and value this to the core. The support of the community has enabled them to grow and thrive each year while continually pushing the power of music and community as one.
Educational Programs at the Britt Institute – Since 1985
Striving for excellence in “creating and sustaining programs most well-suited for our time and where we see the arts heading in the future”, opportunities are available for children and adults which are engaging, innovative and sometimes even life-changing programs. A few examples of these are the Music in the Mornings™ program (currently implemented in 95 schools regionally), ukulele summer camp (including 24 different workshops), the third annual Rock Camp, the Beyond the Stage series (classes, workshops, artist Q & A sessions and more) and the improvisation and composition-focused music camp. In addition, family oriented concerts are offered each season. Over the past few years, Michael Franti & Friends holds a matinee and the Britt Symphony Pops concert feature the cutting-edge chamber music group, PROJECT TRIO.
The Future of Britt
A little birdy told me I could mention a Performance Garden that will be in the near future of the festival. The garden itself will provide seating for 150-300, and ancillary improvements will include new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) pathways, safety and lighting improvements and restroom upgrades. Not only will this add to the already present beauty of Britt, it will enable them to better serve the community. Speaking of community, I must acknowledge a huge thank you to a local company who has made this opportunity arise. Ausland Group spearheaded the development of the concept, design, and over $120,000 in donations to kick-start the capital campaign. They also provided technical grant writing assistance to facilitate full funding of the project which is tentatively scheduled to break ground this October.
For more information about the Britt Festival, go to http://www.brittfest.org where you can find information about their upcoming performances, venue info, blog roll and more!
Bonnie Ryan, Web Content/Social Media/Blogger
Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) AKA Travel Southern Oregon