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Our Story

Founded in 2015 by Dr. Katie Smirnova and Brett Walfish, the Rushmore Music Festival takes place each summer in Spearfish, South Dakota at Black Hills State University

The Rushmore Music Festival is a non-profit organization that brings together internationally acclaimed faculty artists for a two-week intensive solo & chamber music festival for students ages 10 through college. Students studying violin, viola, cello, or piano can apply to study at the Music Academy, while young composers are welcome to join the Composition Academy.

Faculty Artists perform in Rushmore Music Festival's Chamber Music Concert Series, which presents audience-engaging concerts around the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Our Values

It is through the generosity of our donors that we are able to bring together highly sought after pedagogues and performers of the highest caliber to create a unique immersive environment – an environment in which young talents from around the nation come together to discover, foster, and realize their own creative and artistic potential. Whereas many festivals reserve this intensive environment for older, already accomplished musicians, our program provides a unique, intensive curriculum for developing and accomplished musicians alike. Going beyond the mastery of their instrument, our students are constantly instilled with discipline, accountability, perseverance, and an unmatched standard of excellence.

We believe that these opportunities should be made accessible to all qualified students, which is why it is our goal to provide the necessary assistance to deserving students who otherwise would be limited by their families’ financial situations. We are proud to say that we were able to offer financial aid to over 60% of our students in 2017!

Together, we can inspire and cultivate young minds both locally and from across the nation, and provide the Black Hills community with educational opportunities and world-class performances you can be proud of.

Outreach and More

While the Festival officially takes place during our summer residency, July 1-16 2018, throughout the remainder of the year the Festival Co-founders and Faculty Artists engage in many outreach performances, school visits, and guest workshops & masterclasses in the Black Hills and around the country. 

Want to stay in the know? Join our Mailing List to receive monthly updates on how we are making an impact on the community through our upcoming performances and educational outreach events.


The Rushmore Music Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

The Rushmore Music Festival does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation, in any of its activities or operations.