High Altitude Society: Bravo! Vail kicks off summer with Midsummer Night’s concert (photos) | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society: Bravo! Vail kicks off summer with Midsummer Night’s concert (photos)

As most everyone knows, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. For we Americans, it also signifies the start of summer, though in many cultures, it marks the middle, or "midsummer."

It was appropriate, then, that the opening of the Bravo! Vail season coincided with the solstice and marked the unofficial start of the valley's social season.

Joshua Bell and his astounding orchestra, The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, blessed the stage at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with the apropos "Midsummer Night's Dream" by Felix Mendelssohn, composed at the tender age of 17. The piece transported the audience to Shakespeare's fantasy of an evening, such as Thursday, with fairies, star-crossed lovers, a mischievous Puck and a donkey named Nick Bottom. The orchestra also performed Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra and Beethoven's Symphony Number 6 in F Major (Pastoral).

'The power of music'

After the concert, the Sonnenalp Hotel hosted a lavish spread for the musicians and donors of the festival.

"For the last 31 years, Bravo! has brought world-class musical performances and education to our community," said vice president of development Jason Denhart. "We believe strongly in transforming lives through the power of music and our donors allow that to happen."

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"It's been a game changer for us," said Jacqueline Taylor, director of artistic planning on hosting The Academy of St Martin in the Fields for the past three years. "Internationally, the festival has progressed in a way we never could have imagined and the interest on the part of groups and ensembles from all over the world who now want come to our festival is tremendous. It's put us in a different light in the musical camp. Anne-Marie McDermott, the artistic director, is thrilled that our audience has embraced the sound of a chamber orchestra. It's a unique musical sound."

This is the last year that The Academy is scheduled to perform. Fortunately, a new contract is in the works.

"We are very much in conversation with the year they will be coming back," Taylor said. "Their return is eminent."

For more information and the schedule for upcoming concerts, visit http://www.bravovail.org.