Bravo! Vail reflects on a season that almost didn’t happen
The classical music festival plans on a full season for 2021
Bravo! Vail’s 33rd season looked like it wasn’t going to happen this spring. The classical music series usually brings in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra and other groups for a few weeks each summer. The long-standing event is also something many people plan their vacations around in order to see as many Bravo! Vail concerts as they can.
Drawing a crowd and bringing in large orchestral groups usually means a successful event, but during COVID-19 times, large gatherings weren’t the goal. So, the team at Bravo! Vail shifted gears to see how they could reimagine this season.
Early on during the pandemic Bravo! Vail was in discussions with its board of directors and local task forces and established a guiding philosophy which served as the lens by which the organization weighed all of its decisions: “The health and safety of the community are our top priorities, and if we can do so safely and responsibly, we are committed to fulfilling our mission to enrich people’s lives through the power of music.”
“With our guiding philosophy in mind, it became clear that we would not be able to present orchestral music or gather large crowds, and in early May we announced the decision to cancel our season,” said Caitlin Murray, executive director of Bravo! Vail. “We did so, however, with an open mind and resolve to continuously examine what might still be possible,” Murray said.
By early June, Bravo! Vail had formulated a plan and announced a modified 2020 season. The centerpiece was the concept of hosting a small collective of musicians who would stay in Vail for the duration and function as a workgroup.
“The musicians we invited to join us were overjoyed, inspired and energized to perform,” Murray said, adding that for all of them, their concerts in Vail were the first they had performed since the beginning of the pandemic. “For many, I think it was the longest they had ever gone without performing. They shared a spirit of flexibility, adaptability, and acceptance,” Murray said.
Perhaps the most innovative element of the modified festival was The Music Box, a small stage set in a custom-built trailer that could be hauled around. “The idea was that if we can’t bring people to Bravo, we’ll bring Bravo to them,” Murray said. The Music Box hosted 41 concerts from East Vail to Gypsum at places like day camps, senior centers, the Vail Fire department, local neighborhoods, patron homes and more.
“The Music Box is here to stay, and we are excited to imagine new ways it can be utilized to bring the joy of music to more and more people,” Murray said.
The feedback Bravo! Vail has received about this summer’s season has been overwhelmingly positive. “People seem to be very grateful that there were concerts to attend, however few and however small, and those who did not feel comfortable attending were able to watch from home, which made a big difference as well,” Murray said.
The feedback echoes something that Murray already knew but was solidified after this season. “I think that in difficult moments, times of real challenge, it is all too easy to brush the arts aside, but I do believe that the arts, and music especially, serve an undeniably important role in these times. We all need a little joy in our lives and music keeps us going and fuels our souls,” Murray said. “I think Bravo’s mission of enriching peoples’ lives through the power of music is more important now than ever before.”