VAIL — The New York Philharmonic continues its 11th Bravo! Vail residency this week with “Summertime Classics” this evening at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Composer and conductor Bramwell Tovey leads the New York Philharmonic in Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from “Four Dance Episodes fromRodeo,” as well as Tovey’s own composition, “The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret” with New York Philharmonic Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi as soloist. Closing “Summertime Classics” is Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, a cheery work that draws inspiration from the Bohemian folk music that Dvorak so loved. Tovey, a favorite among Vail audiences celebrates his 10th summer at Bravo! Vail with the New York Philharmonic at this concert.
Tovey’s “The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret” was written with Alessi in mind; Alessi was soloist in the 2006 premiere of the original version for solo trombone, brass and percussion, titled Urban Cabaret. On July 3, Tovey conducted the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in the world premiere of the orchestral version under its new Lincoln Tunnel name.
Tovey, in describing “The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret,” wrote, “The listener might imagine that Joe, who commutes daily from New Jersey to Manhattan in his stylish open-top sports car, gets stuck in traffic at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel and decides to get out his ‘horn’ (as he calls it) and entertain the disgruntled crowd. In New York, anything can happen … Under a cocktail of jazz and minimalism, motives from the opening of the work provide the main musical material. The soloist is put through many virtuosic hoops until a final cadenza brings the piece full circle. Like all traffic jams, this one seems to disperse quickly for no apparent reason.”
Also on the Summertime Classics program is Copland’s “Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo,” an audience favorite since its 1942 premiere in New York City. The great success of Billy the Kid in the spring of 1938 prompted the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to commission Copland four years later to write a second ballet on a cowboy theme; Agnes de Mille was engaged to devise the scenario and the choreography.
The premiere was received enthusiastically, and Rodeo has remained among Copland’s most popular scores. The story of Rodeo is a simple one: a cowgirl, tough of hide but tender of heart, searches for — and finds — a man from the prairie whom she can invite to the Saturday night dance.
Grammy-winning conductor Tovey is acknowledged around the world for his artistic depth and his warm, charismatic personality on the podium. Tovey, who is entering his 13th season as music director of the Vancouver Symphony and continues as founding host and conductor of the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics series, also continues his association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Before his appearances at Bravo! Vail this summer, Tovey led the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics programs New York City.
Alessi was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s principal trombone, The Gurnee F. and Marjorie L. Hart Chair, in 1985. Prior to joining the Philharmonic, he was second trombone of The Philadelphia Orchestra and principal trombone of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He is an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.