The Bravo! Vail season concluded Aug. 2 with a glorious chamber music series concert entitled “Baroque Concertos and More” at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. The wistful reality has set in that, for the most part, the music has ended for almost another year. As we are sketching out the 2015 season and planning selected concerts to be announced during our offseason, I thought it would be fun to relive five musical highlights from this summer.
1. Beethoven’s Ninth with Jaap van Zweden leading the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, four vocal soloists and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus. The great German master’s magnum opus was given a riveting performance by the Dutch maestro and his musical forces. Just the other day, one audience member said to me: “I’ve never heard Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ performed with such conviction and force.” It was as though the roof might come off the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
2. The July Fourth Patriotic Concert with Jeff Tyzik leading the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. America’s great music was on full display at the annual celebration of our country’s independence. It was such a treat this year to host the Evans Choir from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, who led us all singing patriotic favorites. But, the real highlight for me was the performance of Ferris Butler, who graciously narrated “Gardens of Stone,” a moving work that pays tribute to the military men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Special thanks to Cheryl Jensen and the Vail Veterans Program for collaborating with Bravo! Vail to bring this American hero to the Ford Amphitheater stage.
3. Helene Grimaud performing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Yannick Nezet-Seguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Grimaud is a sensation: captivating, mysterious, magical and powerful. There are no words to capture the essence of her art. She expertly brought out the majesty of the music, conveying muscle and fragility through her interpretation. It was sheer musical transcendence in silk.
4. Yefim Bronfman performing Beethoven’s Piano Concertos nos. 1 and 5 with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. The evening offered the perfect musical recipe: one of the world’s leading pianists performing one of Beethoven’s greatest works. Gilbert and his New Yorkers were at the top of their game, and my esteem for Bronfman only grows. Stellar pianism combined with his personable demeanor, the result being a fresh, joyous and mesmerizing portrait of one of our century’s major classical pianists.
5. The Calder Quartet performing Ravel’s shimmering String Quartet on Bravo! Vail’s third season of the Silver Oak & Twomey Series. The great French master’s impressionistic harmonies combined with the natural setting of the Donovan Pavilion to create a night I’ll never forget. The Silver Oak & Twomey Series offers classical music in a cabaret setting, bringing the performers in close proximity to the audience. Relaxed and enveloped by the beauty of the outdoors, there was a lovely sense of anticipation, openness and happiness that night in the quality of the experience and music making.
We’ve already begun working in earnest on Bravo! Vail’s 2015 season. A major classical music headliner is slated to open the season on July 1 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Jaap van Zweden. Classical choral music of Mozart, a concert version of a popular American musical, more film with live orchestra accompaniment and collaborations with other genres such as dance are currently being considered. Bravo! Vail continues to break new ground in service to the community, and we thank you for being the most wonderful, loyal audience anywhere. This has been a remarkable season.
Jim Palermo is Bravo! Vail’s president and executive director. For more information, visit www.bravovail.org or call 970-827-5700.