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Bravissimo for Bravo!

Stew Mosberg
Special to the DailyJohn Giovando, an attorney with a love of classical music, joined with acclaimed violinist Ida Kavafian to initiate the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival 17 years ago.
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It has been 17 years since John Giovando, an attorney with a love of classical music, joined with acclaimed violinist Ida Kavafian to give birth to the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

Having previously established a successful chamber music festival in Angel Fire, N.M., at the suggestion of a friend, Giovando and Kavafian brought musicians from that state to perform chamber music concerts in the Vail Valley.

Giovando explained his vision for the festival as “… a dream … to bring a level of music to Vail Valley and give (the community) a sense of pride … music that is accessible to all people.”

The town of Vail, Beaver Creek, Vail Valley Foundation and Eagle County funded the initial concerts. Today, as a nonprofit organization, the festival’s funding comes from a variety of sources, including the National Endowment for the Arts.

At the first concert, held in Beaver Creek, there were fewer people in attendance than there were musicians. As word spread, however, the numbers grew, and in 1998 Eugenia Zukerman, renowned flutist, author and television commentator, joined the festival as artistic director. With her assistance, world-class performances, dedicated leadership and generous support from the community, the festival has grown to an annual audience of almost 60,000.

More than 50 celebrated soloists perform in chamber ensembles and with three resident orchestras ” the New York Philharmonic, The Dallas Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic.

So as not to overlap with the International Dance Festival, Bravo!’s programs are scheduled from late June through early August, with Vail Valley residents and visitors alike being treated to the highest level of music in a stunning mountain setting.

Chamber music programs such as the Classics Series, the Introduction to Chamber Music programs, the Soiree Series, which are limited attendance performances at private residences, the free Young Artists Series, Music at Midday held at the Vail Chapel and world-acclaimed orchestra performances all make for one of the best music festivals anywhere.

As one might expect, putting together an annual event of this magnitude takes time, money and effort. It could not be done without a deep-seated love for music. Zukerman remarks that while she knew what the position required, she accepted the challenge.

“And I have never been happier with a decision … (in addition) working with my Associate Artistic Director Lynne Mazza, Executive Director John Giovando and a remarkable staff, I am part of a dedicated team.”

Planning the programs for the season is usually done from two to as many as five years out. Zukerman books soloists two to three years in advance.

All the hard work, though a true labor of love, is as gratifying for the staff members as it is the audience. As Giovando says, “It’s only for music in the end.”

=Tickets can be purchased on line at http://www.vailmusicfestival.org, the best choice since most events sell out in advance. Tickets may also be purchased at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater or Vilar Center, as well as by phone 877-812-5700.

Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer. His art review column “Art Scene” appears regularly in the Vail Daily.


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