Grand Teton Music Festival's New Executive Director Hopes To Connect Community To Music

Aug 14, 2020

The Grand Teton Music Festival has picked its new executive director. Emma Kail will lead the organization, which holds a world class orchestra during the summer months and offers other classical music events year round. Kail has a background in music performance and as an administrative leader in classical music organizations across the U.S. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with her about her vision and hopes for the festival.

Emma Kail: I am a lifelong music lover. I grew up until I was about 10 years old in very rural Kentucky. So, my introduction into classical music was thanks to public radio. We had a repeater station from Western Kentucky Public Radio. And so working on our farm, I heard music from a very early age and fell in love. I ended up studying music. But as I moved along, I began to see more about the other side of music beyond just what was happening on stage. So they need to have support not only backstage, but in the office and in the advocacy for music and how musical institutions connect to a community.

Kamila Kudelska: And you mentioned the connection between music and community that's important for Jackson Hole. So I wonder how you will try to develop that and why is it important to you?

EK: It's important to me because I think music is for everyone. And it can make a positive impact in everyone's life, not just some people who are typical ticket buyers to classical music. But as far as an orchestra being connected to the community, I think that there are so many ways that through art we can amplify. When a community is in need of celebrating or in need of mourning, or is in need of augmenting something that's already happening in the community how can we highlight that? How can we find partnerships that leverage the arts to our everyday lives? My goal here would be for everyone in this community to have a reason to say that this music festival is theirs.

KK: What are some goals you hope to bring to the festival?

EK: I'm so excited about this moment for the festival because I think there's such an opportunity for us to get together and prepare for that moment where we're all going to come back together. Of course, there's no deadline at this point. But this is a family that's ready to come back together, the staff, the board, the musicians and the community.

KK: And, of course, you've referred to the effects of the pandemic. Can you go into a little more detail of how we can connect the community with music right now.

EK: What I'm enjoying about this time is that it is clear the deck of the perfection of musical performance. So we're digging into the stories behind the music, the musicians understanding, for example, and what the stories are behind the scenes. I think that as an augment to what we're going through right now, as we're all trying to make sense of this time while we're looking for those posts of stability of ways that we can connect with each other. Sharing that community around human stories and augmenting it with music is something that is, can be more that can be even more present in our storytelling in the future.

KK: The festival has had issues with its artistic direction. Where do you hope that direction will go?

EK: Right? What attracted me to this institution is the artistic quality of the festival and the musicians and what I've gathered from all of my conversations with the musicians, the board and the staff is that everyone is looking forward to the future. They are so ready to come back together. And there's tremendous energy and synergy, about thinking about the future.

KK: So just working together and getting back on the same page.

EK: Yeah. I think that we've all been through a lot in 2020. And it's made everyone think about priorities and what I know from this festival is they want to play again for this community.

KK: Well, thank you so much for your time. Emma Kail. She's the new Grand Teton Music Festival executive director.

EK: Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.