From Bach to Brass and Janáček to Jazz: Penn's Woods Music Festival June 11-24

Members of the Penn's Woods Orchestra rehearse in the new music recital hall with soloist James Lyon.
Members of the Penn's Woods Orchestra rehearse in the new music recital hall with soloist James Lyon.

For more than three decades, the Penn's Woods Music Festival has ushered in summer with symphonic sounds, masterful musical artistry and memorable performances for audiences young and young at heart. The 2023 festival kicks off on June 11 with the free Music in the Gardens concert, followed by chamber ensemble, jazz and Festival Orchestra concerts through June 24.

The free Music in the Gardens concert begins at 1 p.m. at the Arboretum at Penn State with a program for kids (PW4Kids) by Revamped Duo in the Children's Garden. Other musicians will be scattered throughout the gardens before the main performance at 2 p.m. on the Event Lawn, featuring the critically acclaimed River City Brass Band from Pittsburgh. In the case of inclement weather, the concert will be relocated to the School of Music Recital Hall.

An audience favorite of the festival is the extraordinary soloists who perform with the Festival Orchestra. Festival Orchestra concerts will take place on Saturday, June 17, with Steven Smith, pianist, performing the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27, and on Saturday, June 24, with Naomi Seidman, flutist, performing C.P.E. Bach's Flute Concerto in D Minor. Both Festival Orchestra concerts begin at 7 p.m.

Fridays are reserved for Jazz at Penn's Woods, with outdoor performances on the Olsan-Stone Terrace at the Music Building. The festival will host the Pittsburgh Trombone Project on June 16 at 7 p.m. This professional quartet joined by a rhythm section is known for its virtuosic arrangements of traditional jazz and not-so-traditional jazz standards. The second night of jazz under the stars, at 7 p.m. on June 23, will focus on the vintage style and early swing of jazz music with guest musicians from Baltimore.

The Wednesday night concerts will once again feature chamber ensembles, offering the most intimate music performance. Familiar names including violinist Max Zorin with pianist Christopher Guzman, the Pennsylvania Quintet and Alegria Ensemble, along with other musicians, will perform music by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Mahler and more.

There are additional programs being hosted for the newest of festival audiences. The PW4Kids program offers brief concerts aimed at getting the young listeners introduced to musical possibilities. The festival also has programs designed to explore music in settings other than a concert hall. PWPlus activities are interactive concerts with conversation, cocktails and classical music, in settings that could be unusual and with something unexpected added to the evening (dates TBD).

Reserved and general admission tickets for the concerts on June 14, 16, 17, 21, 23 and 24 are $25 adult/$10 student. Music in the Gardens on June 11 is free (in the case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to the Recital Hall). Limited FREE student rush tickets will be available beginning at 6:15 p.m. at each ticketed concert.

Tickets are available now at In-person ticket sales are from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eisenhower Auditorium box office. The Recital Hall box office will open at 6 p.m. before each ticketed concert.

The School of Music Recital Hall and Olsan-Stone Terrace are located near the northwest corner of the University Park campus, and visitor parking is available at the Nittany Parking Deck for an hourly rate. Please note that all surface lots on the University Park campus are now reserved 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

PWMF, in its current format since 2008, is supported jointly by Penn State and the surrounding community and features professional musicians from across the country performing alongside Penn State School of Music faculty, alumni and graduate students. Its goal is to inspire a passion for classical music through innovative concert programming, educational activities and informal events, including PW4Kids, aimed at young musicians. The 2023 festival is co-sponsored by the School of Music, WPSU, Foxdale Village, Designer's Studio and Happy Valley Adventure Bureau.

For more information, including details on concerts and educational programming, visit

Schools and Departments: School of Music