Though Boise is tucked into the mountains and may be most known for fly-fishing, trail hiking or amazing ski slopes just a short drive away, the secret is quickly coming out that it is also a well-curated cultural hub. People of a community are brought together by the arts, and it offers one of the biggest reasons why people don’t just move here but stay here. Every day of the week you are bound to find something exciting, whether it’s a musician playing cello on Eighth Street, a contemporary play written by a local author or a concerto being performed by the talented Boise Philharmonic. The arts are the heartbeat of this city and will lift you out of the daily grind, perhaps when you least expect it.
The Honorable Steve Trott – Boise Philharmonic
How has your life been enriched by the Boise Philharmonic?
It is hard to describe in words. I’ve been involved in music my entire life. It is so wonderful and can be described as a tonic for one’s health, especially in the nonsense of the world today. It is in some ways my cultural epicenter. I’m a judge, so listening to the Boise Philharmonic is my cultural oasis; it is an amazing way to temper everything I do in my professional life.
What does the Boise Philharmonic mean to you?
I started going to concerts in 1990 and have been on the board since 1993. I’ve been involved in making it work.
One of mankind’s greatest achievements is classical music. It represents something humans have stumbled on, and it takes your heart and soul to places that your life can’t. A symphony can take you to a specific time and place and helps to preserve a history that we can relate to today.
Describe your favorite Boise Philharmonic performance.
There is a Russian composer from the late nineteenth century who composed a piece called Pictures at an Exhibition that was performed by the Boise Philharmonic this past February. The composer, Mussorgsky, had a friend who was a painter and an architect who died. He went to a retrospective exhibition of this friend, then wrote a piece based on the visit to the gallery, looking at the pictures. It is a very moving piece. Honestly, it helps me to believe that there’s hope for the human race! You don’t have to know a thing about the symphony in order to come to the symphony hall and enjoy the music.
Karen Peterson – Boise Contemporary Theatre
How has your life been enriched by BCT?
When we first moved to Boise four years ago, we bought season tickets to most of the performing arts companies in town. BCT quickly became our favorite and has remained so ever since. BCT allows us to see original work by influential playwrights performed by professional actors in an intimate setting. What could be better than that?
What does BCT mean to you?
BCT means that living in Boise, Idaho, doesn’t equal being theater-deprived. It means I get to meet fabulous and highly creative people, namely the actors, directors, set designers, musicians and playwrights who form part of the BCT family. A BCT performance always makes for a great night out. We usually go with friends, and the discussions afterward are always lively and thought-provoking.
Describe your favorite BCT performance.
That’s a tough question; there have been so many standouts in the four years I have been going to BCT. I would say Red by John Logan from the 2013-2014 season still lingers in my mind. It’s the story about the painter Mark Rothko and his studio assistant that has lots of intelligent things to say about the nature of creating visual art. The dynamic between the two actors was mesmerizing and the sets just perfect.
Jodi Reynolds – Opera Idaho
How has your life been enriched by Opera Idaho?
Opera has enriched my life through the exposure to an art form which captures all the majesty, beauty and worldly experiences that one can imagine. Through the brilliance of its composers and the amazing voices of the performers, opera dramatizes every conceivable human emotion, it identifies the highest levels of the human spirit and it exposes the many forces of debauchery and immorality. But the music is magical; for me, there’s no sound in the universe as uplifting to my spirit as the melodic arias from the great masters, such as Puccini, Verdi, Wagner and others.
What does Opera Idaho mean to you?
Opera has gradually found a special place in my life. My first exposure to opera was to attend a performance of Puccini’s La Boheme at the Rome Opera House when I lived in Italy. Later, I had the fortune to move to Boise, home to Opera Idaho, and more recently I decided to focus my time and effort on supporting this extraordinary Idaho organization. They provide wonderful entertainment through opera productions but are also committed to music education. Opera Idaho sponsors a children’s choir who perform alongside the principals. Additionally, the resident artists visit local schools to introduce young students to this special musical art form.
Describe your favorite opera performance.
In considering my favorite opera, I reflected on the many performances through the years which I’ve enjoyed, before determining that Opera Idaho’s recent production of Puccini’s Tosca was at the top of my list. It had everything from great voices, deceitfulness, cruelty and, of course, the tragic death of the heroine. It left me breathless!
Kathy Winterton – Ballet Idaho
Tell us what the Ballet means to you.
When I relocated to Boise, I was happily surprised at the community’s commitment to the arts and is one of the reasons I made Boise my home. I recall a meeting where Mrs. (Esther) Simplot explained her passion for our dance academy, that the ballet students are not the children that get in trouble—it keeps them focused and healthy. I believe that is true for any young person involved in arts, sports or academics.
Our dancers are also exceptional athletes! I attend rehearsals occasionally, and the strength, stamina and devotion impresses me every single time. Megan Hearn smiles whether she’s in rehearsal or on stage. Elizabeth Baretto has her own line of custom dancewear that is growing quickly. And one spilled a beverage on me (twice) because dancers talk with their hands. But when you see them onstage—it’s as though they float on air. They are artists on and off the stage.
How has the Ballet enriched you and your family’s lives?
I grew up in a modest middle-class family with more than a few siblings, yet my parents insisted we had music and dance lessons; they saved so we could attend performances from arts organizations in our community every year. A lot of my exposure came from school field trips, and the ballet offers experiences to groups that may not have exposure to the arts. Over 1,800 students were able to see The Nutcracker and students from The Learning Lab (a family literacy program) were able to attend performances. That exposure builds dreams and transports people like it did for me, and is one of the major reasons I love my work with the Ballet.
What was your favorite experience with the Ballet?
(Creative director) Peter Anastos’ reputation allows us to perform works from great American ballet royalty like Balanchine and Twyla Tharp. Very few ballet companies outside of New York ever have these opportunities. I also love that our dancers showcase their own work during our New Dance performances. They are responsible for every aspect of the performance: choreography, costume, lighting and music. I believe that it’s another avenue for their artistic expression; it helps keep amazing talent at Ballet Idaho.
Eileen Barber – Idaho Shakespeare Festival
How has your life been enriched by the festival?
In my capacity as a board member who houses/hosts new talent, visiting artists and their families and former company members passing through town, I become engaged with amazing people each summer and ultimately create lifelong friendships. I know I am not unique in this respect. There are many others in the greater metro area who share my capacity as a theater lover and enjoy participating behind the scenes at this unique outdoor amphitheater with its stunning natural backdrop. I know many others who have made lifelong connections to the festival’s friends, family and colleagues and even extended family members of festival artists. I find it especially rewarding to appreciate and learn about the younger company members through the eyes of their parents, who otherwise might never see their kids perform in Boise were it not for this wonderful community and its great hospitality. Finally, as a parent myself, I have been fortunate enough to have had the interest, resources and time to expose my children to the unique, metropolitan, cultural experiences offered in the city of Boise. And let me not forget to mention my role as the co-founder of a tech company, and a local employer, who totally appreciates that ISF adds to the lifestyle that draws highly recruited employees, and makes them want to choose our community ahead of others, not just for a good job but because they want to move here! Starting not only with the arts, they move here to be close to many outdoor destinations like the foothills, the vibrant downtown and the amphitheater on the edge of what was a millpond more than a century ago!
What does the festival mean to you?
The festival is not simply about the performances, but the friends I’ve made each summer, the ability to provide magnificent cultural experiences to our community, the ability to shape and grow the direction of the art we present—creating groundbreaking new productions of shows like Cabaret, Les Mis, My Fair Lady, etc. These shows and the artists who create them go on to perform in one of the top cultural centers in the United States each and every year when they open the fall season at our sister theater in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s amazing to go from a century-old millpond under the beautiful skies of Idaho to a century-old, beautifully restored and updated theater in Playhouse Square (the Hanna Theater) where our artistic director Charles Fee has been leading the Great Lakes Theater for more than a dozen years. Careers are born, and artists have opportunities many can only dream about. Very simply, for me, it all starts with the joy of bringing together friends, wine and amazing food to enjoy a night out in one of Boise’s truly unique settings.
What has been your favorite performance?
Each year, I feel as though I’ve just experienced my favorite show. I expect that will continue to be the case as long as I am fortunate enough to attend the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Each year, I will have a new lifetime memory, more new lifetime friends and performances I will celebrate forever.