VAIL — The umbrellas were out for a good reason Friday at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
With no rain in sight, Bravo! Vail’s loyal following on the lawn used them to shelter themselves from the sun during a beautiful evening as the New York Philharmonic opened its 11th residency at the summer music festival.
The New York Philharmonic delighted a capacity crowd at the Ford Amphitheater with Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, performed by Carter Brey, and a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.
“It is spectacular to stand here and look out at you all,” Bravo! Vail executive director James Palermo said before the concert. “Hi to everyone on the lawn. Everyone in Vail is so nice. They wave back.”
New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert led the orchestra in the traditional playing of the national anthem, which is customary for the beginning of a residency or season.
Roughly five minutes into the beginning of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, Gilbert stopped the New York Philharmonic, as an unidentified women in section one of the reserved seating apparently suffered a medical emergency. Paramedics arrived at 6:22 p.m. and transported the woman out of the amphitheater, and the concert resumed from the top at 6:30 p.m.
After the restart, it was clear that Brey, the featured soloist, and the New York Philharmonic had encountered such situations before. They never skipped a beat. Brey, who is also the orchestra’s principal cellist, and the orchestra gave resonance to the Dvorak work.
Dvorak is the festival’s immersion composer for the season, which started with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra playing his Ninth Symphony (“New World”) last month. Various chamber concerts in the past 10 days have celebrated the composer’s work, and the New York Philharmonic will cap this phase of the season with a performance of his Eighth Symphony on Thursday, also at the Ford Amphitheater.
The Dvorak, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, delighted a packed house. The gates to the Ford Amphitheater open well before the scheduled start time of concerts at 6 p.m., and concertgoers were on hand to snatch up prime seats on the renovated lawn — especially those in the shade.
By 5:30 p.m., every rock — as a seat or a seat-back — of the terraced lawn was taken. As the bells rang, announcing that the concert was about to start, friends stared up at friends, looking for preciously-saved real estate.
The lower bowl of the reserved seating had been a sellout since May, but ticket-holders trickled in more slowly. Opening Night of the New York Philharmonic is not only a musical event, but a social one, as well.
Gilbert deftly led the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, a work whose fanfare can often overshadow its nuances. That added a level of suspense as the work progressed until Gilbert finally let go, letting the New York Philharmonic display all the grandeur of the fourth and final movement of the symphony.
Gilbert came out for three curtain calls and highlighted his orchestra during a sustained standing ovation.
Friday was the first of six concerts the New York Philharmonic will be performing. Tonight, it presents Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra,” featuring Augustin Hadelich and Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.”
Staff writer Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.