In the early 1960s two men decided that Oregon was in need of an outdoor music festival.
These men, Sam McKinney and John Trudeau, both worked in rainy Portland, so they traveled south in search of a dry climate and found the property of pioneer photographer Peter Britt, who also dabbled in orchards and vineyards. It had natural acoustics and provided a perfect venue in the historically restored old mining town Jacksonville, a few miles west of Medford. The first chamber music performances took place under a canvas and plywood stage illuminated by bare light bulbs placed in 45 tin cans. Later, aided by a city endowment and private donations, the Britt Festival built a wooden stage. Britt draws a wide-range of world class musicians to the beautiful spot on Peter Britt’s hillside estate above the historic village. Many return for the fun of performing under the stars for rapt audiences sitting on blankets on the grass facing the stage. Britt is in its 51st season this year, following Trudeau’s stated belief that “live performance and music education go hand in hand.” Besides providing entertainment, Britt offers many community education programs for students around the Rogue Valley.