Bravo! Vail welcomes Philadelphia; adds a fourth
VAIL — It was a memorable opening night for The Philadelphia Orchestra at Bravo! Vail on two counts Friday night at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
The first breaking development came before The Philadelphia Orchestra’s presentation of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, featuring Garrick Ohlsson.
In introducing the concert with Bravo! Vail Executive Director John Giovando, Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott announced that the festival had reached an agreement with The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields to begin residency, starting in the summer of 2016.
“My biggest dream for Bravo! Vail is coming true,” McDermott said.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, led by renowned violinist Joshua Bell, who has performed here twice as a soloist, will kick off the 2016 season before the Dallas Symphony Orchestra makes its regularly scheduled entrance.
Already the only summer music festival in the country with three symphony orchestras in resident, Bravo! Vail will have four with its already traditional rotation of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.
Oh, by the way
It takes a lot to upstage The Philadelphia Orchestra and pianist Ohlsson, but they answered in kind in the second half of Friday’s program.
During intermission, the first crack of thunder came from the south of the Ford Amphitheater and, as if to accentuate the gravitas of Rachmaninoff’s Third, perhaps one of the most demanding of the genre, Colorado’s weather presented a little bit of everything.
Ohlsson looked up and grinned on several occasions — he could see the strikes of lightning to the southwest — during the first movement, but he never broke a stride.
Ohlsson and The Philadelphia Orchestra wisely took a brief break for the weather between the first and second movements. When the concert was postponed briefly, the audience applauded, nonetheless, and Ohlsson and conductor Cristian Macelaru engaged in a mock handshake and bow as they would at the end of a performance.
After the weather cleared, everyone retook their place and Ohlsson continued to render a seemingly effortless performance of the Rachmaninoff with The Philadelphia Orchestra living up to its reputation as one of the sterling orchestras in the United States.
As Ohlsson and The Philadelphia Orchestra came to the thundering conclusion of the Third, they drew a standing ovation from the crowd which realized not only the difficulty of the composition, but the difficult circumstances under which it was played.
Irony can be ironic
Naturally, it was perfectly sunny during The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Sixth, also known as the “Pastoral.” Unlike the other eight symphonies Beethoven wrote, the Sixth is a tone poem depicting settings in nature, something the composer loved. Further, its fourth movement depicts a thunderstorm in the countryside, which was played under clear skies at the time.
The Philadelphia Orchestra continues its residency with concerts the rest of the weekend. Tonight’s presentation at 8 is “Pixar in Concert,” a pops concert. The Philadelphia Orchestra will play memorable numbers from the movies, while the actual films are shown above the stage, hence the later-than-usual start time.
Sunday’s concert is “Dvorak: From the New World.” In addition to Dvorak’s Ninth, Benjamin Beilman joins The Philadelphia Orchestra for Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto.
Staff writer Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.