Vail Valley Scenery column: All for the love of music |

Vail Valley Scenery column: All for the love of music

Honorees Howard and Cathy Stone.
Carolyn Pope | Special to the Daily |

The Bravo! Vail season is “all about the music,” said Jim Palermo, the organization’s president, at the annual gala held last weekend at the Ritz Carlton in Bachelor Gulch. “But without the people,” he added, “it wouldn’t be music.”

That’s what the evening was all about: music. Can you imagine a summer in Vail without the music? Our hills are most certainly alive with the sound of music, not only from the classical strains wafting on the breeze from Ford Amphitheater and the various chamber events held around the valley, but also from lively pop, reggae and rock from Hot Summer Nights presented by the Vail Valley Foundation, to the phenomenal concerts at the Vilar this summer (like one of my favorites, Lyle Lovett), and so much more I can’t begin to cover in this column.

The night, however, was all about jazz, and honoring the inimitable family Stone — that is, Howard and Cathy.

The Stones have been inhaling our thin oxygen since the Fourth of July, 1968, when they arrived and Howard announced to Cathy, “This is where I want to live.” While Howard jumped into jazz, Cathy has been passionately involved with Bravo! Vail since the beginning, including several of the galas, often alongside good friend Argie Ligeros.

We are now celebrating twenty years of the Vail Jazz Festival and the Vail Jazz Foundation. For the Stones, though, it’s not just about the jazz. Jim Palermo called their marriage a “mixed” marriage; he loves jazz, Cathy loves classical. Together, they love music in the purest sense.

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Friend and Grammy Award winner Bill Cunliffe made a surprise appearance, and performed a special tribute to the couple, finishing up with “It’s a Wonderful World” with jazz trumpet player Terell Stafford.

“Jazz is the ultimate ‘do unto other’ music,” said Cunliffe. “When you make someone else look good, you look great. Howard and Cathy have done just that through the kids in the valley and their educational programs. They’ve brought happiness and joy.”

Stafford shared his Stone experience. Years ago, on a jazz cruise, Howard asked Stafford if he was happy. “They provided happiness, joy and love for me, as they have done for so many people in this valley.”

A highlight of the evening is always the live auction. Craig Foley bought the rockin’ custom Harley, donated by the Chester family. Can’t wait to see him in next year’s Fourth of July parade! The biggie, of course, though is the conductorship of the New York Philharmonic. Board chair Russell Molina pulled out the big bucks and bought the package for a cool $26,000.


When Howard and Cathy had their moment to talk, they humbly spoke of the power of music in their lives.

“If we don’t have the arts in our lives, we have nothing. We share Vail with the net generation. This is why Vail is so special,” Howard said. “I am so privileged to have made my life here with family.”

“We are so lucky for what we have been given,” added Cathy. “We must make sure our children and grandchildren have this experience, and that those who are not so fortunate in this valley also have this experience.”

I don’t think luck has anything to do with it. Howard and Cathy have created their own luck, and we are the lucky ones to be touched by their vision, their heart and their love of all things musical.

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