Bravo’s five can’t-miss Vail concerts |

Bravo’s five can’t-miss Vail concerts

At the end of Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, 8pm, 7/24/08. Photo by Chris Lee

VAIL, Colorado – The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival made it difficult this year, and that’s a good thing.

I am your friendly local sports editor, but this is the time of year when I get to put my music hat on, and write our annual five can’t-miss Bravo! concerts of the season. Pop was big on opera and Mozart, while Mom is a champion of Bach and also never misses a San Francisco Giants game. So here I am, a sports guy who came out of this loving Brahms, Mendelssohn, Chopin and, if I had to make the impossible choice between my parents’ two favorite composers, Bach. Sorry, Pop, but I do love opera more than Mom does.

There seems to be a bounty of great concerts on the slate for season No. 22, which kicks off Wednesday. Here, with great pain in narrowing them down, are five nights of must-hear Bravo!:


Opening night: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Brahms

Opening night is always a big one and this year is no exception. We welcome back the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the first time since 2006. Led by Jaap van Zweeden, Dallas plays Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italian,” quite apropos for the beginning of a season. (When you hear the bugle, you’ll know it, too.)

Pianist Orion Weiss takes the bench for Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 27,” and we finish with Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. This is the way a festival should begin its season.

July 15

The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra performs Gershwin

Last year, the New York Philharmonic brought us Gershwin’s “Piano Concerto in F,” and this year we get an evening of the iconic American composer. Even if you are not a classical-music aficionado, this music will be familiar.

If you live for classical music, you’re in for a treat. An “American in Paris” begins the night. Then longtime Bravo! favorite Anne-Marie McDermott plays “Rhapsody in Blue” and variations on “I’ve Got Rhythm.” The symphonic arrangement of “Porgy and Bess” will be a rousing conclusion to the concert.

July 24

The New York Philharmonic performs Mozart, Copland and Mahler

Gershwin is to New York City as Aaron Copland’s music is to the American West. Copland resounds when played in a setting like the Ford Amphitheater. Baritone Nathan Gunn is scheduled to sing Copland’s “Old American Songs,” as well as selected aria from Mozart. (I am crossing my fingers for pieces from “Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni.”)

Mahler’s First Symphony “Titan,” which is the second half of the program, should be spectacular.

July 30

The New York Philharmonic performs Verdi, Mozart and Beethoven

This is real simple, kids – Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony and Beethoven’s Seventh. Buy tickets now. No other explanation is needed.

July 31

The New York Philharmonic performs Copland and Berlioz

I asked “Where is Copland?” in this space last year. Bravo! doubtless listened. (By the way where is Mendelssohn this year? Felix is conspicuously absent in his bicentennial year.)

OK, back to Copland, his “Appalachian Spring” is one of the quintessential American orchestral works, and will be fitting with the scenery from the lawn seating. Yet what puts this concert on the list is the pairing with Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” There are a lot of truly interesting combinations of composers in this year’s festival, but Copland and Berlioz takes the cake.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

I just couldn’t leave out …

• July 10: Pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who has produced a tremendous set of recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, performs the “Emperor” with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dances” and Ravel’s “La Valse” share the spotlight.

• July 11: It’s old and “new” with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Shostakovich’s “Classical” Symphony. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs.

• July 26: “William Tell,” Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, some Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances” AND Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier?” The New York Philharmonic will get your heart pumping.

• July 29: The New York Philharmonic delivers another romp of an evening with some “Carmen,” parts of Saint-Saens’ “Samson and Delilah” and finishes with Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

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