Backstage access: Bravo! Vail’s 30th season underway |

Backstage access: Bravo! Vail’s 30th season underway

Jennifer Teisinger
Bravo! Vail
Bravo! Vail has come a long way since the first chamber music concert in 1988. This summer, the music festival features artists debuts in Vail, world premiers and more.
Zach Mahone | Daily file photo |

This summer, Bravo! Vail Music Festival celebrates 30 years of extraordinary music making in the Vail Valley.

The festival has come a long way since the first chamber music concerts on July 29, 1988, at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Two short years after those inaugural concerts, the orchestra residencies began and from there, the festival grew every year based on the ambition that the most world-renowned artists would perform here.

Classical music has trends, like other musical genres do as well, and here at Bravo! Vail, we keep up with them. Even after 30 years of performances, Bravo! Vail continues to introduce new programs every year. In fact, weaving in artist debuts and world premieres with tried and true favorites is what keeps a festival alive and kicking. So, whether this summer is your first time or your hundredth time attending a Bravo! Vail concert, trust you may just hear and experience something new.


Bravo! Vail welcomes 10 artists who will make their Vail debuts this summer.

Steven Isserlis (today and Sunday): Steven Isserlis is an internationally renowned cellist who tours extensively with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and is a frequent collaborator of their music director, violinist Joshua Bell. Isserlis’ Vail debut includes two pieces he has recorded with the Academy: the Brahms Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra and Schumann’s Violin Concerto.

Simone Lamsma (Friday): In high demand throughout Europe, Simone Lamsma’s debut here is with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performing Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto.

Haochen Zhang (July 9): Haochen Zhang’s career catapulted into international stardom with a gold medal win at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009. Now, 26 years old and an Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Zhang is sought after in Europe, Asia and the U.S. His Vail debut is with The Philadelphia Orchestra following a recital tour in Japan and China.

Patricia Racette (July 16): Dubbed as one of the great singing actresses of our time, Patricia Racette makes her Vail debut at the Bravo! Vail Gala — not in an operatic role, but in a cabaret performance aptly named Diva on Detour.

J’Nai Bridges (July 21): The hope of a career as a vocalist drew J’Nai Bridges away from basketball and track and field scholarships in college. Bridges is in demand on the world’s opera stages and was recently nominated for the 2017 International Opera Awards. We get to hear her sing Gershwin songs with the New York Philharmonic.

Leonidas Kavakos (July 22 and 23): New York Philharmonic Artist in Residence Leonidas Kavakos makes his Vail debut with a splash in an unprecedented double-feature over two nights. Hear Kavakos pour his soul into Brahms’ Violin Concerto the first night and lead the New York Philharmonic as player and conductor the next.

The debuts continue with Bravo’s first international string quartet, the Danish String Quartet, and the venerable Emerson String Quartet as well as the up and coming Zora String Quartet, who is part of Bravo’s chamber musicians in residence program.


If you were to ask any Bravo! Vail staffer what concert they were looking forward to the most this summer, then you would get 17 different answers. Some of us can’t wait to hear The Philadelphia Orchestra’s lush interpretation of Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 (July 13) and others are anticipating the new music. New music? Yes — five brand new pieces of music that have never been heard before! We get to be the first to hear this music, and we call it a world premiere — it’s a very special thing. And, the composers who wrote the music will be listening with us, right here in Vail.


“Overture for Violin and Orchestra” by Edgar Meyer was Thursday and written for violinist Joshua Bell.

“Dos piezas para orquesta” by Roberto Sierra (Friday) with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

“Le Tombeau des Regrets” by Roberto Connesson (July 9) with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“White Stone” by Julia Adolphe (July 26) with the New York Philharmonic.

“Pangaea for Piano and Strings” by David Ludwig (August 3) written for Anne-Marie McDermott.

Bravo Vail’s 30th season celebrates the new along with our favorites — come and be a part of it.

Jennifer Teisinger is the executive director of Bravo! Vail. The Bravo! Vail music festival runs through Aug. 4. For more information about the season and to purchase tickets, visit and call 877-812-5700.

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