Summer festivals |

Summer festivals

J.K. Perry
Vail CO, Colorado
Photography by Preston UtleyThe Vail Art Festival fills every nook and cranny of Lionshead Village.

Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival

Add a liberal dose of classical, a dash of opera and a pinch of jazz, mix thoroughly in a mountain setting and voila, you have the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. The 20-year-old festival showcases world-renowned musicians playing for locals, tourists and sometimers at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vilar Center and other venues. Though the festival lasts nearly two months, concertgoers will never hear the same piece of music twice ” from three major orchestras to ensemble and solo performances, each evening is fresh and diverse.

The sounds commence June 24, when New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performs “Congo Square.” The composition, co-written by music director and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, grew from a collaboration between the 15-member orchestra and Ghanaian drummer Yacub Addy. The African music and jazz-inspired piece is named for New Orleans’ Congo Square, the lone location in America where slaves were allowed to perform music and dance during parts of the 1700 and 1800s.

The festival boasts three major resident orchestras this year, including the Rochester Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, which bombards the Ford Amphitheater and guests six times beginning July 20. The appearance marks the fifth tour of duty in Vail for America’s oldest symphony orchestra (165 years old, to be exact). “Following the success of our residency last season, we are especially pleased to be returning to Vail,” said New York Philharmonic Executive Director Zarin Mehta. “This residency is a wonderful opportunity to continue to bring the music of the New York Philharmonic to music lovers in a beautiful part of the country.”

This year, Music Director Lorin Maazel and conductors Andrew Davis, Ludovic Morlot and Bramwell Tovey lead the 106 virtuosos who comprise the orchestra. Davis begins opening night with the Gala Concert, which features works by Richard Strauss and others. Another highlight includes the July 25 Vail premiere of “Two Mountain Scenes,” a piece created by American composer Kevin Puts and jointly commissioned by the philharmonic and festival.

To celebrate the festival’s 20 years, organizers solicited 20 artists, including local gallery owner and artist Jim Cotter, to paint 20 violins. The string instruments will travel the community for all to see before being auctioned July 20 during the event’s Gala Dinner. Want the chance to wave the heralded conductor’s baton? At the Gala ” a Roaring ’20s theme this year ” a conductorship will be auctioned off.

Vail International Dance Festival

From humble beginnings in 1989, the Vail International Dance Festival this year continues its steady rise to a dance epicenter. The late-summer festival launches July 29 with the American Dance Spectacular. The event features the Pacific Northwest Ballet sparked by the sounds of nine chamber musicians performing with the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

The intensity turns up a notch Aug. 10 as world-renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon ushers his new troupe on stage at the Ford Amphitheater.

“While previous dance festivals have captured the attention of the international dance community and its associated media, this summer’s lineup will vault the Vail Valley to center stage of this world with the much anticipated worldwide debut of master choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s new company, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company,” said John Dakin, spokesman for the Vail Valley Foundation, the festival’s organizer. Morphoses’ inaugural performance ” presented in honor of the late President Gerald R. Ford ” showcases top dancers from around the world.

Arts Festivals

The newly-completed Arrabelle provides the backdrop for an old standby, the Vail Arts Festival.

“The Vail Arts Festival was created by a group of volunteers who wanted to showcase art produced by local artists,” said Laurie Asmussen, festival organizer and owner of Eagle Valley Events. “I think it is important as it offers a venue for artists from across the United States to showcase their work in a street festival setting.”

The Aug. 11 – 13 artist showcase takes place outdoors along East Lionshead Circle, from Dobson Arena to Lionshead Mall. The works on display include a range of mediums, including watercolor, oil, acrylic, woodwork, glass, sculpture, photography and others.

The festival began 23 years ago and features 100 artists, who change each year.

If you like the art at the Beaver Creek Arts Festival, talk inspiration with one of the 150 artists on hand or commission your own unique piece of work.Check out mosaics, ceramics, paintings and other art forms Aug. 4 to 5 in the confines of Beaver Creek Village.

The Thunderbird Artists Festival, unique to Arizona and Colorado, returns this year to display the work of emerging artists. The showcase lasts July 13 to 15. s

Support Local Journalism