Vail music that refreshes your soul |

Vail music that refreshes your soul

Special to the Daily/Chris Lee

Good to see you again, everyone.

The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival always feels to me what a family reunion would be like if I actually had a big family. Every late June we gather at the Ford Amphitheater and camp out for a good month, catching up with each other, listening to old favorites and discovering new ones.

I love the experience of running into people for the first time in so-many months and catching up. I love seeing people who I don’t know, but have seen for years at Bravo!, and who have clearly had much practice conducting their iPods or home stereos and proceed to do so at the amphitheater.

After what was likely a tough winter for everyone involved, regardless of what you do, it is time to play, revel in that fact that we do live here and refresh our souls with a summer of fantastic music. Now more than ever, Bravo! is constant in our ever-changing world, and we welcome its return.

Season 23 of Bravo! has plenty from which to choose, which is why we couldn’t just keep it to a quintent. Here’s our annual list of can’t miss concerts.

1. Friday – Yo-Yo Ma recital

Hello, it’s Yo-Yo Ma. Go, listen and appreciate this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

2. July 2 – Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Happy 100 to American composer Samuel Barber. Good on the festival for observing this anniversary, especially when it’s an American composer not named Copland or Gershwin. The Dallas Symphony plays one of Barber’s best-known works “Adagio for String Orchestra” as part of a season-long observance of the centennial.

Then it’s back in time for Mozart, followed by Brahms’ Second. We actually will be getting half of the Brahms symphonic cycle this year with the First on July 14.

3. July 10 – Philadelphia Orchestra

Creative programming here with Berlioz’s “Roman Carnival Overture,” Debussy’s “La Mer” and Dvorak’s Ninth (“New World”) as we journey musically from Europe to North America. It’s especially exciting to have “La Mer” performed here as the sea floods Colorado at 8,000 feet.

Yes, Dvorak’s Ninth is a part of classical music’s Nifty 50 and we’re fine with that. The same goes for Beethoven’s Fifth on June 30 and his Ninth on July 7.

4. July 23 – New York Philharmonic

New York opens its eighth residency – Has it really been eight? Wow. – with its usual blockbuster performance. Under the leadership of Alan Gilbert, the Phil takes on Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto and Sibelius’ second.

We welcome back pianist Jonathan Biss, who turns 30 this September. I just revel in that fact because he’s been a regular to this festival for many years now, and his career has blossomed. And Siblieus’ Second is a perfect selection for the mountains.

5. July 24 – New York Philharmonic

This concert pretty much does in the “wow” factor. The New York Philharmonic starts with Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 and then it’s time for Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. By the way, where was this last year for Mendelssohn’s bicentennial? Happy 201, Felix.

Schubert’s “Unfinished” follows in the second half of the night, with some Wagner to finish the evening.

6. July 9 – Philadelphia Orchestra

Gil Shaham performs Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, followed by Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” We did a lot last year to cure the world of Mahler-phobia. We can do the same thing with Stravinsky in our lifetime. By the way, no rioting after the concert here.

7. July 11 – Philadelphia Orchestra

It’s an evening of Gershwin and Bernstein. We’ll have the Candide Overture and “Symphonic Dances from Westside Story,” but Gershwin’s “Piano Concerto in F” always keeps me coming back.

8. July 16 – Philadelphia Orchestra

Grieg’s Piano Concerto returns and we’ve got Franck’s Symphony. The program begins with Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture” because it is time to play.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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