The Breckenridge Music Festival’s story begins in the summer of 1980, when a group of full- and part-time residents put together a ten-day music festival to mark the anniversary celebration of Father Dyer Church, a Town of Breckenridge institution. The event was so well received by residents, visitors and musicians that plans were made to have it become an annual event.
The Festival, chartered in 1981 as the Breckenridge Music Institute, was commissioned to produce a Festival of Classical Music and Jazz, and operated a summer music festival and a youth music camp. Under the direction of founder Dr. Kenneth Evans for its first decade, it was generally referred to as the “Bach, Beethoven & Breckenridge” music festival, a title carried on by our annual art poster series
Starting with concerts held in the Bergenhoff Restaurant at the base of Breckenridge Ski Area’s Peak 8, the Festival grew with the improved amenities of the Town of Breckenridge. The move to the Town’s Event Tent, erected in 1988 on the south side of the Blazing Saddles Center in the middle of town, made the Festival more accessible and increased seating capacity to 350. In 1993 the Riverwalk Center was completed, providing a 750-seat amphitheater within a tent erected for summer performances. In 2008, the Town, with financial assistance from the Breckenridge community, remodeled the Riverwalk Center. Contributing supporters included many patrons of the BMF. The new permanent roof, along with lighting and climate control, created a comfortable and acoustically excellent performance hall, now available for year-round concerts.
The original Institute mission included a strong educational component, which continues today. The Breckenridge Music Festival’s Music in the Schools program offers an annual series of workshops, performances and master classes to Elementary, Middle and High Schools throughout Summit, Lake and Park counties. A popular Festival week for life-long learners, associated with the summer festival since its Institute days, is offered each summer under the international “Exploritas” organization, formerly known as Elderhostel.
Additional performance series have joined the ongoing summer orchestral festival. The Champagne Series, chamber concerts in private homes around Summit County, was added in 1998, and in 2001 the Festival expanded its performances to include non-classical performances of many genres, showcased as the Blue River Series. A Winter Series of concerts now completes the Breckenridge Music Festival’s annual cycle of year-round events with chamber-sized classical and non-classical performances.