Mission & History
Music in the Mountains inspires and engages community members of all ages by providing access to extraordinary classical music through performances and youth education programs.
In the beginning…a small brave band of music lovers with a big dream gathered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to produce a few summer concerts. Thirty-five years later with SummerFest being the signature program, Music in the Moutains brings the classics to life in new ways, in new places and new formats.
The first music in the Mountains Summer Festival took place in St. Joseph’s Hall, Grass Valley in June 1982 after 14 months of planning. Originally operating under the auspices of City Opera, a nonprofit Corporation founded in 1978 by Paul Perry and Terry Brown to do little know works of opera in San Francisco, a new board of directors was elected in 1981 with the mission to produce a Summer Festival called Music in the Mountains (MIM). Utilizing the local volunteer Golden Chain Chorale, already under direction of Paul Perry, as the core of the Festival, professional musicians were hired from orchestras throughout the United States.
In 1985, the corporate name was changed from City Opera to Music in the Mountains and the Golden Chain Chorale renamed the MIM Festival Chorale. Allegro Alliance, the hospitality and benefit events axillary, was formed two years later. During the 1994-95 season, two “mini-fests” Spring and Fall were added to augment the Summer Festival and the Holiday Choral Concert, which were always part of the MIM schedule. After Paul Perry’s retirement in 2008, Ryan Murray was hired as Choral Director followed by Gregory Vajda in 2009 -2013 as MIM’s Artistic Director and Conductor. Currently Pete Nowlen is MIM’s Artistic Director and Ryan Murray has the added role of Resident Conductor.
Beginning with the Young Musicians Competition in 1987, education has been a integral part of MIM with numerous programs in the schools, young musicians competition, a unique young composers program and opportunities to play with professionals.
Today, MIM continues to be governed by the all-volunteer Board of Directors, the volunteer chorale is now known as the MIM Chorus and the volunteer support group as the MIM Alliance. Professional orchestra members and guest artists grace our stages at the Amaral Family Festival Center at the Nevada County Fair Grounds, home since 2001, as well as other venues in the area.