Boise Music Week

Still Hitting the Right Notes after 100 Years

When Eugene A. Farner returned to Boise from serving in the U.S. Army in World War I, he came home with a vision: He wanted a first-class musical celebration showcasing talent from Southwestern Idaho and he wanted to make sure there would never be a charge for the event.  Mr. Farner, the director of music at St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral and the Boise Civic Festival Chorus, shared that vision with his friends and community leaders and in May 1919, “Boise Music Week” was born.

Granted, other cities across the country established music weeks, but Boise Music Week remained unique because of its focus on local musicians and performers.  And today, 100 years after the first performance, the talent still comes from the Treasure Valley and no one has ever been charged a cent for a ticket.

While always anchored in Boise, the celebration has moved around.  In the 1920s through World War II, Boise Music Week events were performed on a large wood platform built squarely in front of the Idaho Statehouse.  The performers in those early years – the Festival Chorus, the Boise Municipal Band, local organists, the Boise Tuesday Musical Club, school and church choirs – were the forerunners of today’s events, including School Night, Church Night, Showcase and Noontime Organ recitals.

The outdoor venue was abandoned when wartime restrictions on the use of lumber forced performers indoors, but was revived in the 1970s when Boise Music Week began “Music in the Park” at the Julia Davis (now Gene Harris) band shell.

Dramas and pageants were an important part of those early years of Boise Music Week.  The pageants depicted early American history and European cultural events, complete with lavish sets and colorful costumes.  In 1959, Boise Music Week began a new chapter by presenting its first musical, “Oklahoma.”  Area high schools housed the productions until 1988, when Velma Morrison and the Harry W. Morrison Foundation invited Boise Music Week to perform at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.  It’s been the home of Boise Music Week’s productions ever since, drawing the largest crowds of week-long celebration.

Even though Boise is today considered a destination of world-renowned performers, Boise Music Week still relies on its deep community roots.  Every year, 2,000 volunteers donate more than 35,000 hours to produce Boise Music Week events.  Along the way, Boise Music Week has continued to evolve.  In 2014, for example, “Jazz Night” was added to the schedule of events.  The celebration remains a favorite local event, part of what makes Boise the unique place it is.  In 2005, Boise Music Week was honored with the Mayor’s Spotlight Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Boise Music Week, remains a treat for audiences, and a showcase for performers, singers, musicians, set and costume designers, carpenters, sound engineers, directors, and the many other talented people who pull together each spring to make Mr. Farner’s original vision into what it is today: the longest running event of its kind in the country and perhaps the premiere community music event in the nation.

After 100 years, Boise Music Week continues to hit all the right notes.

Past BMW Performances

1959 — Oklahoma!
1960 — Damn Yankees
1961 — The Student Prince
1962 — Die Fledermaus
1963 — Carousel
1964 — My Fair Lady
1965 — The Merry Widow
1966-67 — Variety Nights*
1968 — Show Boat
1969 — Variety Nights*
1970 — Li’l Abner
1971 — Kiss Me, Kate
1972 — Man of La Mancha
1973 — George M!
1974 — Mame
1975 — The Unsinkable Molly Brown
1976 — 1776
1977 — Camelot
1978 — Annie Get Your Gun
1979 — Pajama Game

1980 — No, No, Nanette
1981 — Carnival
1982 — The King and I
1983 — South Pacific
1984 — The Music Man
1985 — Damn Yankees
1986 — Hello Dolly!
1987 — The Sound of Music
1988 — Finian’s Rainbow
1989 — Funny Girl
1990 — George M!
1991 — Annie
1992 — Peter Pan
1993 — Oklahoma!
1994 — Meet Me in St. Louis
1995 — Mame
1996 — The Most Happy Fella
1997 — The Music Man
1998 — Guys & Dolls
1999 — 42nd Street

2000 — The Sound of Music
2001 — West Side Story
2002 — Oliver!
2003 — Annie Get Your Gun
2004 — The Wizard of Oz
2005 — Crazy For You
2006 — Kiss Me Kate
2007 — Beauty and The Beast
2008 — Singin’ in the Rain
2009 — Brigadoon
2010 — Hello Dolly!
2011 — Bye Bye Birdie
2012 — The King & I
2013 — South Pacific
2014 — The Secret Garden
2015 — Gypsy!
2016 — A Funny Thing Happened
on the Way to the Forum
2017 — Mary Poppins
2018 — The Music Man
* No Broadway Show