Meet ‘Camp Festival Amadeus’ Artistic Director, Jenanne Solberg

You might recognize Jenanne Solberg as our principle violist. This dedicated musician has a deep and varied educational background that began when her teachers needed to find a way to channel her creative energy as a child! 

     Jenanne was born in Moscow, Idaho, then her family moved to Los Angeles until she was five, when they went to Missoula. As an adult she lived in Billings for the next 23 years until she moved to her “little house in the big woods” in Whitefish, 18 years ago! 

     Her path to music began at age five when her parents enrolled her in grade school, where she was promptly placed in 2nd grade. Shortly afterward her teachers suggested she be moved to 3rd grade.  Her parents said no, so the teachers said, “OK, we’ll figure out how to keep her busy here, but she needs way more to do.” “And what would that be?”  they asked. “Oh music lessons, or something …” 

   So Jenanne started piano lessons – with a Mrs. Walker. “She kept me for about 3 weeks, and then sent me off to the university professor post haste.  And that university professor, my beloved J. George Hummel, saw me through from that day, until I graduated from college (University of Montana) with a degree in Piano Performance.  I continued graduate school there in Missoula, and had the great fortune to study under renowned pedagogue and composer Dennis Alexander,” she recalls. “How I came to play viola is another crazy story … maybe for another time!”


     She moved to Whitefish in 2002 and began playing viola with the Glacier Symphony.  “For some years before that, while serving as principal viola of the Billings Symphony, I was lucky enough to have already met John Zoltek when I performed with the Montana Summer Symphony in Helena for several years.  It has been a joy to get to continue working with him!”

   What does she find most enjoyable about playing with the symphony? “I truly enjoy the challenge of the music we are presenting each season – we have grown so much over the years! I look forward to each rehearsal and concert, and the time spent with friends and colleagues sharing and learning together is something I treasure very much.  It truly is an integral part of what makes me, me,” she notes that it’s hard to pick a favorite concert of the season because, “It’s all sort of in-the-moment.” 

     Jenanne feels fortunate that her parents live closeby in Whitefish – “In the place I grew up spending my summers for my whole life.” Her sister is here as well and they are collegues at Whitefish High and Middle Schools where Jenanne has established a strings program and continues teaching music. She has two sons and daughters in law and two grandchildren who all live in the Flathead and are her devoted fan club, attending Symphony concerts as often as they can. Her daughter, Claire, passed away two years ago. 

Camp Festival Amadeus is born

     Jenanne performed at the inaugural Festival Amadeus in 2007 with the Glacier Symphony, and says she felt an opportunity brewing.  “I saw that we could have a music camp unlike any other camp available to students in our area and even beyond!”

     She worked with the North Valley Music School to create a camp experience that would develop a side-by-side learning environment with the professional musicians who perform for Festival Amadeus.

     “The camp is meant to be “small” so that the orchestra is a similar size to the Festival orchestra. The professionals sit in with the students in rehearsal, coach and instruct, and ultimately perform with them. They share meals and other activities as well,  and the students see first-hand what they can become, especially when they attend the Festival evening concerts together.  It has been an amazing project, and I feel, a very successful venture!”

     Thank you Jenanne for sharing your immense talent and energy and inspiring so many musicians, not to mention audience members! 


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