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Festival features everything from Bach to Britten

It happens every year.

Around mid-March, our Arts and Entertainment Editor, Cassie Pence, gets “The Package.” Normally, as the sports editor of the paper, I really don’t care about Cassie’s mail. But, “The Package” is special ” and I rip through it.

It’s the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival press kit, a teaser of the upcoming six-week smorgasbord of classical music, which starts Sunday with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at 6 p.m. at the Ford Amphitheater.



Having been brought up on a big, wooden record player that seemingly played nothing but Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, this is my favorite time of year. (For the younger readers in the audience, records were big vinyl discs used to play music when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth.)

Bravo! 2005 offers a wide array of glorious music, spanning the ages from Bach to Britten and featuring three stunning orchestras and exquisite artists.



In short, “The Package” did not disappoint.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the highlights:

– We open Sunday with a can’t-miss concert with Christopher Seeman ” we’re betting on a red cummerbund ” and the Rochester Philharmonic doing the honors with Glinka’s stirring “Ruslan and Ludmila Overture,” Rachmaninoff’s “Second Piano Concerto” and Tchaikovksy’s “Fifth Symphony.”



Pianist Olga Kern is making her second consecutive opening night appearance at Bravo!, having brought down the house with Tchaikovksy’s “First Piano Concerto” last year. The former Van Cliburn award winner will perform the Rachmaninoff this year.

Seeman and the Rochester Philharmonic, owners of the longest running residency in the festival, close the program with the uplifting “Tchaik” Fifth. Seeman and company have performed many thrilling performances of the 19th Century Romantic and the Fifth should be no exception.

– Wednesday is an evening of Mendelssohn, Walton and Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The “Eroica” is simply a timeless work, appealing to classical music novices and aficionados alike.

– Friday, July 1, Bravo! regular Chee-Yun takes to the violin for Mendelssohn’s “Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra.” This programed also includes Stravinsky’s famed “Petrouchka.”

n The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, led by Andrew Litton, begins its run with “Classics Old and New,” July 8. Bravo!’s composer-in-residence, Melinda Wagner’s work, “Concertino for Harpsichord and String Quintet,” will make its debut. (See accompanying story, page X?) That’s followed by Beethoven’s “Emperor Piano Concerto.” Litton and pianist Jon Kimura Parker are old friends, so the chemistry for this performance will be apparent. Brahams’ “Second Symphony” closes out what should be a memorable evening

– July 9 is a trip through Europe, highlighted by Mozart’s “Prague” Symphony and Ravel’s “Bolero.” We’ll bet you a year’s free subscription to the Vail Daily that you’ll have the theme of “Bolero” down pat after this concert.

– More big Beethoven is on the way July 15 with the “Triple” concerto. The Beaux Arts Trio will perform the “Triple” with Menachem Pressler at the piano, Daniel Hope on the violin and Antonio Menses with the cello.

– Opera lovers, unite. On July 16, Dallas performs Bizet’s “Carmen,” the first time a concert version of an opera has been performed at Bravo! since 2003 when the same orchestra put on “La Traviata,” to rave reviews. Angela Horn will perform Carmen. Matthew Lau is Zuniga. Stephen Powell takes the role of Escamillo. Jay Hunter Morris plays Don Jose and Michaela goes to Arianna Zukerman. Don’t forget your bull-fighting outfit.

– The New York Philharmonic returns for a third season July 22 with an all-Dvorak program. No such program would be complete without “The New World” Symphony. Before No. 9, it’s Lynn Harrell performing the “Concerto in B Minor for Cell and Orchestra.”

– Lorin Maazel continues his run with the baton the next night with a slate of Strauss and Wagner. Wagner’s “Parsifal” Prelude is sandwiched in between Strauss’ “Don Quixote” and “Der Rosenkavalier” Suite. Guest artists include cellist Carter Brey and Cynthia Phelps on the viola.

– On July 24, it’s Mozart and Mahler. The New York Philharmonic performs Mozart’s 29th Symphony, followed by Mahler’s Fifth. This is a time for courage. Yes, Mahler is an acquired taste. But, there’s no time like the present to overcome your fears of Mahler.

– Feel like being a kid again? Bramwell Tovey conducts the Phil with Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne” and “Jeux d’Enfants” as well as Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.”

– July 28 should be one of the biggest nights of the season as conductor Xian Zhang takes us to Russia, starting with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.” Then comes the Vail debut of internationally renown Lang Lang in Tchaikovksy’s “First Piano Concerto.”

– Lang plays again the next night, following with another classic ” Chopin’s “First Piano Concerto” in an evening which also includes Tchaikovsky, Delibes and Offenbach.

All of this adds up to being quite a package of summer music.

Vail Colorado


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