The Vail Daily’s top 5 (or so) Bravo! Vail concerts |

The Vail Daily’s top 5 (or so) Bravo! Vail concerts

Joshua Bell performing at Bravo! Vail in 2012. Bell returns on July 5th to perform with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Zach Mahone | Special to the Daily |

VAIL — You really should go to all of them. Seriously.

Every year, we try to narrow it to the “Five concerts you can’t miss,” and this year is more difficult than most.

The upcoming season of Bravo! Vail has something special in every one of its classical music concerts at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and assorted chamber concerts throughout the valley this summer.

By our count, there are seven symphonies ranging from Mozart to Copland, four piano concerti and three from the violin with Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and Ravel’s “Bolero,” for good measure.

How do you pick? Here’s our best shot:

:: Classical concerts at the Ford Amphitheater ::

Copland and Barber

Dallas Symphony Orchestra


This is a great lineup of American music, starting with Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide.” Barber’s Violin Concerto returns. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg performed the work a few years ago at Bravo! Vail and now James Ehnes takes the stage. This violin concerto must be seen in person, particularly the third movement. Copland’s Third Symphony makes its Bravo! Vail debut, and the composer’s music is particularly poignant in a setting like the Ford Amphitheater.

Joshua Bell Returns

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Saturday, July 5

We should be yelling this like Paul Revere, “Joshua Bell is coming! Joshua Bell is coming!” Yes, it’s not the first time, but it’s a tremendous coup for the festival to have Bell on stage. He does Bruch’s First Violin Concerto as a part of a very Romantic Era evening with Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

Mahler’s First

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Sunday, July 6

We’re totally in the bag for anything Mahler, so the “Titan” Symphony is probably the highlight of the season. For those somewhat skittish about the composer, his First Symphony is very user-friendly and not, say, 90-plus minutes like The Third. (The First is just less than an hour.) Do yourself a favor, and give it a try. It is Austrian Night at Bravo! Vail with Mozart’s 36th Symphony, “Linz,” opening the evening.

Rachmaninoff and Brahms

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Saturday, July 12

Helene Grimaud plays Brahms’ majestic First Piano Concerto, one of the seminal works of the genre. Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin also leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances.” Having seen Nezet-Seguin lead this orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony last year, this should be special.

Midori Plays Tchaikovsky

New York Philharmonic

Friday, July 18

It’s the New York Philharmonic’s opening night, always one of the social highlights of the summer, and it has the music to match. Midori performs Tchaikovsky’s electrifying Violin Concerto. That alone makes the list. Grieg and Liszt are also on the program with Alan Gilbert conducting.

Bronfman Plays Beethoven’s Emperor

New York Philharmonic

Saturday. July 19

Yes, if you’re counting, this is No. 6, but we’re liberal arts majors. The headliner here is Yefim Bronfman playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto. What’s really fascinating is that he’s also playing Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, so we get to hear how the composer bridges the gap between the Classical and Romantic eras.

:: Chamber concerts ::

Former Bravo! Vail executive director John Giovando always wanted a chamber concert on this list, and who are we to say no to John? Please do not be intimidated by the concept of chamber music. Not that the amphitheater is huge when compared to a symphony hall, but chamber concerts are merely a more intimate setting for a concert. Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” on July 8 at Donovan Pavilion in Vail is our pick, but you really can’t go wrong with any in the series and/or the accompanying Silver Oak and Twomey Series.

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