Symphony season is upon us |

Symphony season is upon us

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily Acclaimed Chinese pianist Lang Lang will perform with the New York Philharmonic July 28 and 29 at the Ford Amphitheater.

VAIL VALLEY -There’s just something about the backdrop of the Vail Valley that calls for a symphony, and 18 years ago, John Giovando did something about it.In 1987, Giovando launched the first event that would evolve into the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. “It started off as a chamber music festival,” said Giovando, who is based in Santa Fe, N.M. “We were on a tour with a music festival out of New Mexico. It was called Bravo! at Beaver Creek. That was the inception of the Bravo! festival. We incorporated that same year to a Colorado nonprofit and started the first Bravo! concert in ’88. It was just chamber music at Ford Amphitheater. Chamber music really didn’t work there. It’s a big place.”Nowadays, that big place is filled with big bands. The festival’s 18th season kicks off June 26 with maestro Christopher Seaman leading the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Russian pianist Olga Kern performing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. Ford amphitheater, now home to the festival’s symphony performances, will also host the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the famed New York Philharmonic. The festival, which runs through Aug. 4, also features chamber music at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek and at Vail Interfaith Chapel as well as performances at private homes in the valley for the Soiree series.

An ode to summer”I just bought a place in Mexico, but I’ll make sure I’ll be here in the summer just to see the concerts,” said Vail local and longtime lawn pass holder Luc Pols. “I am one of the people who goes to every concert. I’ve always liked classical music. Once I heard that’s what was happening in town all summer, I jumped on it. You pay around $120 for a lawn ticket. That’s what you pay for one ticket to the Philharmonic in New York. There was an opera two years ago at the amphitheater. I can’t remember which one. It was just the orchestra and the soloist. It was absolutely magnificent. The whole atmosphere, it was just an outstanding performance. The soloists they get here – the violinists, the pianists – they get a pretty good caliber. For me, this festival is what makes Vail in the summer time. You sit outside in the sun – it rains every now and then – but, it’s just grand.”Other performances on the 2005 include a concert performance of Bizet’s opera, “Carmen,” and performances by Chinese pianist Lang Lang. Each season, the festival commissions an American composer to write a piece to premiere at the festival. This year’s choice is Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner. “To win a Pulitzer in music is a pretty big deal,” Giovando pointed out. “Every one we’ve had has had a major career. Hopefully (the commissioned piece) takes off and gets performed in other festivals. And they do. They get performed in New York and Chicago. It’s good for American music. Imagine when people hear Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. People weren’t sure about it when they first heard it but now it’s familiar. You hear it and hear it.”

Big names and big soundIn 1998, flutist Eugenia Zukerman became the Bravo! festival’s artistic director. Zukerman has been performing internationally in various chamber music ensembles for 25 years and is also an author and television commentator. Whether it’s listening to the booming resonance of an orchestra playing Stravinsky’s work as the sky darkens with lightning in the distance, or standing three feet away from a violinist in somebody’s living room, the Vail Valley Music Festival has become a highlight of the summer for tourists, locals and part-time valley residents. Last year, more than 60,000 people attended various events throughout the summer.”When you go the orchestra hall in New York, you’re quite removed from the orchestra,” said Alan Kosloff, who has seen the New York Philharmonic several times in New York and who has reserved seats to all the amphitheater performances at Bravo! every summer. “It’s very nice to see them in New York, but seeing them in Vail is much more rewarding.

“In Vail, you have such an intimacy with the orchestra. You see every musician. I think it was last summer that the Dallas orchestra performed Beethoven’s Ninth. They had the whole choral behind them. It was just outstanding. That sticks in my memory.”For tickets or additional program details, visit or call (877) 812.5700.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

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