Bravo! Vail triumphantly welcomes live audiences back to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

On Thursday, July 23, Bravo! Vail welcomed back an audience of nearly 175 people safely gathered at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. The program featured Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, Op. 76, No. 2, “Quinten,” Bacewicz: Quartet (1949) and Dohnányi: Quintet No. 1 for Two Violins, Viola, Cello and Piano in C minor, Op. 1. Artistic Director Anne Marie McDermott designed the program to be an exhilarating, magnificent concert experience, and each performer on stage certainly delivered.

“Live music has never held more meaning. History documents the facts of what happens, but music and the arts document the moments,” McDermott said, opening the night. “We’ve all been living without music and that’s not right.”

The Dover String Quartet will make several appearances through the 2020 festival.
Casey Russell |

The 2020 festival marks McDermott’s 10th year as artistic director, and she will continue to head the festival through 2023.

She and Executive Director Caitlin Murray both expressed how thrilled Bravo! Vail was to be able to welcome back in-person guests, and those watching virtually in the free live-stream available to newsletter subscribers.

“Welcome, welcome. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see all your faces,” Murray said. “Your support of the arts truly means more now than it ever has before.”

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They explained that the 2020 Bravo! season is a true labor of love, and that the festival was especially interested in curating an all-encompassing live experience this year.

“We had no way of believing that this might actually be possible,” McDermott said.

McDermott also explained that performers would not be wearing masks on stage since they’ve spent months together practicing materials. Murray expressed appreciation for everyone’s full compliance with COVID-19 regulations at The Amp.

As for social distancing, groups in seats had no fewer than four open space between themselves and the next party. The lawn had 9 parties on it, all with at least 10 feet of distance between. All staff, including Bravo! representatives, Amp production crew and audio and video technicians, wore masks throughout the performance, as they were in common areas. Guests had no trouble observing this rule before and after the music.

The program started with McDermott’s own family performing Baciewicz. Her sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, on violins and violas riffed with each other on the instruments much as they might in their own family: father soloing while mother and kids respond.

Between each program, McDermott chatted with musicians to help engage virtual audiences while stage crews set up for the following performance.

“If you haven’t heard them before, you’re in for a real treat,” McDermott said, welcoming the next act, Dover String Quartet, one of the great quartets with young players in the contemporary classical music world.

She then introduced and discussed Haydn string quartets with Joel Link, violin.

Viola player Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt had injured her knee prior to the performance, and walked out on stage in crutches. The audience applauded her when she walked out.

After their solo-quartet showing on Haydn, crews set up pianist Amy Yang’s instrument. McDermott continued with an introduction of Dohnányi, how the first movement in the piece starts in C minor and dramatically commences in the second movement in C major.

“It’s a feast for the ears, for the soul,” McDermott said. “The skies open up.”

The quintet has one of the most well-known viola solos, which Pajaro-van de Stadt handled with grace and triumph, a gusto the piece demands.

A nearly full standing ovation honored the musicians’ and the festival’s achievements that night.

To purchase tickets to future Bravo! Vail performances, visit

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