Festival Founders (from left to right): Douglas Morris, Burton Kilbourne and Gerald Grout
Founded in 1979 by Ripon College Music Professor Douglas Morris and several community leaders, including Green Lake residents Jerry Grout and Burton Kilbourne, the Festival was formed to enrich the lives of local residents.
Under Executive Director Jeannette Kreston (1998-2011), the Festival increased its commitment to education and community engagement outreach. In 1999 a student chamber music workshop was introduced, providing an intensive, high-quality experience for high-school and college string and piano students, something previously unavailable in Central Wisconsin. From a modest beginning, the workshop, now known as the Chamber Music Institute, has grown to attract students ages 18+ from around the world. throughout the U.S. Workshop CMI activities include daily coaching, master classes, performances, and numerous free outreach community engagement events. for the general public and senior centers, libraries, and service groups.
Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of the Festival’s founding Artistic Director Douglas Morris was bringing the world-renowned choral conductor Sir David Willcocks and later his son Jonathan, to spend a week each summer directing a choral workshop at the Festival.
Following Sir David’s retirement in 2002, a national search for a new director was undertaken, resulting in the appointment of Stephen Alltop, Conductor of the famed Apollo Chorus of Chicago. Alltop has continued many of the existing traditions while introducing new workshop concepts and instrumental features of the culminating concert.
Over the years, the Festival evolved into a comprehensive program, which was recognized for its outstanding record with a 2004 Governor’s Award in Support of the Arts.
In 2011, readers of Green Lake Magazine voted the Festival as their “Favorite Attraction” for the second time.