Bravo! Vail is back, opening this weekend with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra — the largest and oldest performing arts organization in the southwest, led by music director Jaap van Zweden.
“I never feel fully prepared when the Dallas Symphony Orchestra shows up in June because they always come out of the gate in full force,” said Anne-Marie McDermott, Bravo! Vail’s artistic director.
Friday night’s opening performance at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater will feature conductor Jeff Tyzik for an evening featuring jazz guitar with John Pizzarelli.
“It’s a little different this year, opening with jazz, but I think the program is just going to be sizzling,” McDermott said. “Anything that Jeff Tyzik does brings magic to the festival.”
Tyzik himself is known for his podium presence and top-notch trumpet playing. He said Pizzarelli is one of the greatest jazz musicians of our day, and a truly wonderful singer.
Pizzarelli’s performance with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will include renditions of pieces by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Richard Rogers.
“In this concert, you’ll be getting a combination of the American songbook, through Broadway compositions and works of jazz,” Tyzik said. “It will be a real cross section of phenomenal tunes that people know.”
Widespread symphonic sounds
McDermott said she loves how with Bravo! Vail, one night could be John Pizzarelli and the next, Beethoven — creating the ultimate juxtaposed and diverse display.
Following Beethoven’s 9th on Saturday night will be Ravel’s Bolero, a varied, French program with Liszt, Faure and Ravel on Sunday.
“Stephen Hough is a really gorgeous pianist,” said McDermott of the show’s guest musician. “It will be really nice to welcome him to Vail with this concerto.”
Monday brings in who McDermott calls one of the stellar stars of his time. Violinist James Ehnes will play three works of 20th century American splendor by Bernstein, Barber and Copland.
“There’s quite a bit of American music in the programming this season — more than there has been in previous seasons, and I think it should be really fun,” McDermott said. “I don’t think people are used to hearing the entire Copland Third Symphony, and people may not even realize that they know this piece.”
Ehnes, in fact, says that a dose of Americana is exactly the reason why Monday evening’s show will be a standout.
“I think that these works, like the Barber concerto, are defining pieces of American music,” he said. “For people who are curious about what that is, I think this is a really great opportunity to hear these incredible pieces from American music history.”
Wednesday’s Hollywood Film Score Classic brings in even more American allegiance, featuring a suite of scores from great Westerns, James Bond films, well-known pieces by John Williams and selections from “Catch Me If You Can,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Indiana Jones,” “Jaws,” “Star Wars” and more.
Tyzik, who will be conducting the film score show, said it will display some of the best symphonic music written for film in the 20th century.
“Who doesn’t love hearing music from all the great movies,” McDermott said. “This is a program that most people will probably know the music whether they realize it or not. You definitely walk away from a program like this singing.”
A pledge of allegiance
It’s almost certain that most will be humming “The Stars and Stripes Forever” after the annual Patriotic Concert for Friday’s Fourth of July celebrations.
“I love being in Vail on the Fourth of July,” said Tyzik, who will also conduct the Patriotic Concert. “People are so interested in honoring our veterans and celebrating the values of our country, and I love being a part of that in a musical setting.”
McDermott said all the great American music being brought for Bravo! this season “really feels right and makes you feel proud to be an American.”
“To me, there’s nothing more Americana than community and a sense of place,” she said. “Bravo! is located in one of the most perfect places on the planet.
“But the incredible thing about music is that if you come across a piece you know, or one you haven’t heard before, it can bring you to any number of places, and it should bring each person to a different place,” McDermott said. “And there is no better place than here to hear the music.”