MT. GRETNA

About Mount Gretna

Founded in 1892 by the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Society, Mt. Gretna is situated in wooded state protected game land.  Many of its picturesque cottages date back to the Edwardian era in which the town was founded.

The Mt. Gretna Playhouse has hosted performances since the early days of Mt. Gretna.  The original playhouse collapsed under the weight of snow in winter 1995.  Its successor, nestled among the trees and cottages, is the perfect home to Gretna Music's summer series.

Places to Eat

Gretna Music features places to eat just steps from the Playhouse, as well as several other local restaurants that we would recommend!  Below is a list of options as well as addresses, phone numbers, and distance from Mt. Gretna.

Jigger Shop Ice Cream Parlor  Mt. Gretna, outdoor, light lunch & dinner menu, steps from the Playhouse.

Porch and Pantry  R 117 Mt. Gretna, 717-964-3771, breakfast and lunch, dinner for special occasions by request, steps from the Playhouse.

Mt. Gretna Pizzeria  R 117 and Timber Rd, Mt. Gretna, 717-964-1853, 0.1 mi.

Mt. Gretna Hide-A-Way Cafe  40 Boulevard, Mt. Gretna, 717-675-7987, bar, dining room, deck, 0.5 mi.

Timbers  Dinner theater, attractive bar and comfortable lounge downstairs, Timber Rd, Mt. Gretna, 717-964-3601, (closed Sundays, Mondays) 1.2 mi.

Black Gryphon: 54 Mt. Gretna Rd, Elizabethtown, PA 17022  717-367-1859  10 mi. from Mt. Gretna Playhouse.

Places to Stay

There are many local options for places to stay, including the Mt. Gretna Inn just a short walk from the Playhouse, as well as many other local options!  Below is a list of options as well as addresses, phone numbers, and distance from Mt. Gretna.

Mt. Gretna Inn  16 Kauffman Ave, Mt Gretna, (717) 964-3034, walk to the Playhouse

Cornwall Inn & Suites   50 Burd Coleman Rd, Cornwall, 717-306-6178, 3 mi from the Playhouse

Hampton Inn Manheim  2764 Lebanon Rd, Manheim, 717-665-6600, 5 mi from the Playhouse

Comfort Inn and Suites  2845 Lebanon Rd, Manheim, PA 17454, 717-665-3118, 5 mi from the Playhouse (reservations can be made for rooms after August 14)

Rent a Cottage in Mt. Gretna. Call or email for names of realtors.

Holiday Inn Express 147 Merts Drive, Elizabethtown, 2.5 miles from Leffler Chapel & Performance Center, Elizabethtown College

Other Activities at Mt. Gretna

The Mt. Gretna Arts Council tries to keep track of it all with a calendar on their home page.  If you are in town, pick up one of their Calendar of Events books from the visitor center.

Our fellow tenants in the Playhouse are:

The Original Mt. Gretna Cicada Festival who put on six fun-filled nights of music every August.

The PA Chautauqua presents summer programs and events in the Playhouse and Hall of Philosophy building.

Gretna Theatre presents plays and musicals from June -August

Next to the Playhouse is the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society.

On the other side of town:

Mt. Gretna Tabernacle is busy with Mt. Gretna Bible Festival, the Heritage Festival, and Larry McKenna’s Mt. Gretna Summer Concerts.

Over at the lake:

The Timbers puts on dinner theater in the summer, jazz and first Friday art, and year-round music!

Music in Central PA:

So many great area organizations present excellent music in central Pennsylvania.  Here are a few of our friends and partners:

Central PA Friends of Jazz

Ware Center and Arts and Millersville University

Celebrating 44 years and over 700 main stage concerts!

Over 1200 artists have performed at our concerts including 44 Grammy winners and countless Grammy nominees, seven MacArthur fellows, and representatives of major orchestras including (but not limited to):

New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dallas Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony.

Artists have come from most states in the US, Canada, and other countries around the globe. Dozens have soloed with the orchestras above and performed in Carnegie Hall, Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, Disney Hall, Hollywood Bowl, and many of the most prestigious recital halls in the US and overseas.

Many of the biggest names in jazz and classical music have graced our stage. We also produce concerts that are original, can’t be seen anywhere else, and have had many works make their world and national premieres on our stage.

We have been singled out by regional papers, and national publications including Time Magazine, Musical America, Philadelphia Inquirer, NYT, and The New Yorker. Records and CD’s have been made of Gretna performances, both by individual performers and commercial recording companies; concerts have been recorded and broadcast by WITF and NPR’s Performance Today, CBS’ Sunday Morning.

We benefit the arts in Mt. Gretna by introducing residents and visitors to artists and music from all around the world. Gretna residents have made friendships with those they have hosted and, by attending their concerts, learned to love the music they play. Mixing artists and Gretna residents has been an important part of our mission. Countless Gretna residents have volunteered for us and have, we believe, been rewarded by new friendships, a greater sense of community, and many times, a broadened taste in music.

Audience average over 200-350 for classical; around 300-400 for jazz. Both averages are higher than for the industry at large, except perhaps in a handful of major metro centers. Since 1993, over 141,000 have attended our concerts.

Our Beginnings

In 1975 the Pennsylvania Chautauqua’s Summer Program Director asked new Mt. Gretna resident, physician/flutist Carl Ellenberger, to organize two concerts in the Mt. Gretna “Hall of Philosophy.” Ellenberger invited old friends from Interlochen and Eastman to visit and play chamber music. They had so much fun that the next summer he organized 4 concerts in the Playhouse. A Hershey Medical colleague, introduced Ellenberger to the Audubon Quartet, then in residence at Marywood College in Scranton and looking for a summer home. They came to Gretna in 1977 with friends and joined Ellenberger and his friends. Also that year Ellenberger heard The New Black Eagle Jazz Band on NPR and learned that his Yale Medical School friend, Eli Newberger, was their tuba player so he invited them to come from Boston. People flooded into the Playhouse to hear the music and continued to come year after year.

Why We Still Do It

“We all discovered that a string quartet could bring quiet magic to our open Playhouse in the woods. The players were people we wanted to know as well as hear. I can’t say how many lives we touched along our journey so far: students dreaming of careers in music; new audience members never exposed to this type of music at this high caliber level; young musicians trying their wings; veteran musicians warming to attentive audiences; board and staff members exploring their own talents, skills, and passion; innumerable friendships budding among everyone who came together to listen, volunteer, or perform; and everyone discovering the vast universe of music to be explored. If we had any success it was because we insisted on music and musicians we strongly believed in regardless of whether we thought they would fill the seats. Lose yourself for a quiet interval in another world communicating in a beautiful wordless language with other souls. A small piece of Life as it should be.”

Carl Ellenberger, Founder and present board member

*Founded as Music at Gretna, Inc.  We are now known as and use Gretna Music as our name.