By far, the most novel and well-received addition to the Bravo! Vail season in recent years has been the Silver Oak and Twomey Series, now in its second season. Designed to create a new atmosphere for listening, the Silver Oak and Twomey Series is relaxed, elegant, intimate and allows the listener to be enveloped by the beauty of the outdoors. The musicians are positioned near the center of the room with the audience at cabaret-style tables around them, all set to candlelight. Bringing the performers in close proximity to the audience and encouraging both to mingle over great food and complimentary Silver Oak and Twomey wines creates a sense of openness, receptivity and good spirit. This captures the essence of a great performance.
Musically, Bravo! Vail’s Silver Oak and Twomey Series is designed to explore the resonances and interplay between the “new” in music and “old,” that revered body of work that stretches back at least five centuries. This inventive series creates an ongoing dialogue with audiences to connect great music from all eras with present day experiences.
The Silver Oak and Twomey Series opening night on July 30 juxtaposes American composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ Second String Quartet with Beethoven’s Op. 59, No. 3, exploring the relationship between two vastly different sounding works written in 1806 and 1997, respectively.
The second Silver Oak and Twomey Series installment on July 31 is an all-solo piano evening featuring Joyce Yang, Stephen Prutsman and artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott. The program culminates with McDermott performing Bach’s iconic Goldberg Variations, by candlelight. The Goldberg Variations consist of an Aria and 30 variations — a format that Bach did not often employ. Much has been written about this now well-known work, including stories that may or may not be true about a certain insomniac Count who requested a work that his trusted composer/performer companion could be given to play as a way of helping him to sleep. Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s 1955 debut recording of the work on Columbia Masterworks sparked the Goldberg’s widespread fame. Hearing Bach by the glow of candlelight offers audiences a one-of-a-kind, romantic experience that will not soon be forgotten.
On the first half of this solo piano program, Joyce Yang offers two works by American composer Sebastian Currier, the first of which is from 1997 and entitled Scarlatti Cadences. They act as a musical homage to the 18th century Italian composer and keyboardist Domenico Scarlatti. The second work is a fiery composition called Brainstorm. Also on the first half of the evening, Stephen Prutsman creates a thought-provoking pairing of a few of his own original compositions side-by-side with Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata.
The final concert of the series on Aug. 1 pairs two major works of the chamber music repertoire that may seem worlds apart, yet dozens of concert programs share these giants of music — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Olivier Messiaen. The evening opens with Mozart’s cherished Clarinet Quintet and closes with Messiaen’s profound and monumental Quartet for the End of Time.
Quartet for the End of Time was written by Messiaen while captive in a German prisoner of war camp in World War II and premiered by him and three others at the camp on January 15, 1941, before hundreds of fellow prisoners and Nazi guards. The haunting sounds and stunning silences of the work’s eight movements take the listener on a journey of contrasts between light and dark, and eventually to transcendence. Messiaen later recalled, “Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension.”
Jim Palermo is Bravo! Vail’s executive director. For more information, visit www.bravovail.org or call 970-827-5700.