Too much music, too little time
About two weeks ago – Wednesday, July 26, to be exact – the amount of incredible musical options the valley was offering had me spinning in an artistic and cultural dilemma. At the Ford Amphitheater, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra was performing. I may need to repeat that – the NYPO – the oldest active symphony orchestra in the U.S., a true cultural icon, performing before the Gore Range in Vail. While at The Vilar Center, under the ice rink in Beaver Creek, Los Lobos was performing. This may not be a dilemma for some, but I am old enough to remember, around 1960, watching Leonard Bernstein conduct the NYPO Young People’s Concerts at Carnegie Hall on our old black-and-white TV on Sunday afternoons. I also remember hearing, on my AM radio, that Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, representing three strains of rock ‘n’ roll, had died in a small plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959. Therein lies my dilemma – European classical music filtered through Manhattan from the East Coast or American music filtered through East L.A. from the West Coast? The only answer was to try to experience as much of both as is physically possible.
I usually enjoy sitting on the lawn for the Bravo! shows, however, a friend provided fifth row seats under the shed for this show. It couldn’t have been a better evening to be down front as Jennifer Koh was performing the “Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra.” I would have liked to call this article “From Bach to Rock,” but the evening program was all Tchaikovsky. The exciting and brassy “Festival Coronation March” opened the concert and definitely drew the audience’s attention to the stage for the upcoming concerto. Now, the regulars at the Bravo! concerts are quite knowledgeable, experienced music patrons. Usually, after a movement within a classical piece, there might be a smattering of applause throughout the house, followed by bemused, knowing smiles from the regulars. On this evening, after only the second movement of the violin concerto, many in the crowd literally jumped from their seats in an eruption of applause for the magnificent performance of Ms. Koh. It seemed both the soloist and conductor looked out at the audience with surprise before turning back to the performance. And this was a magical performance, on a Stradivari circa 1727, by an awesome soloist. Ms. Koh dug into the instrument spitting out gritty phrases and singing soaring melodies with and in response to (did I mention) the NYPO. Not surprisingly, at the end of the concerto just about everyone in the crowd leapt to their feet with a collective “bravo.” Well, so far, my choice was been correct. I was reluctant to leave at intermission, but I wanted to continue my cross-country musical trip by heading down valley to the Vilar center for Los Lobos. While best known for the multi-platinum soundtrack for “La Bamba” and a hit single of the same name, this is a band of friends and survivors who obviously know and love many styles of American-Mexican music.
Every groove they struck was right on, tasteful and drew the audience in and down to the orchestra pit, which was open for dancing. Now, I’m admittedly partial to any band that carries a baritone sax, but add to that twin sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars, a great song selection and I’m definitely hooked. As you have probably realized, narrowing down my musical tastes is a problem, and this band just fed my habit. American music, from both south and north of the border, rock ‘n’ roll, 12-bar blues, Chicago blues, boogie, reggae and even a couple of classic jam band covers. It was truly a great night for music in the Vail Valley.
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