Murray: Community is at the heart of a world-class music festival

Caitlin Murray
Valley Voices
Caitlin Murray, Executive Director of Bravo! Vail Music Festival
Courtesy photo

With the concluding notes of Bravo! Vail’s 35th Music Festival still echoing, I am reflecting on the exceptional artists, inspirational moments, and beautiful music created at the festival this summer. Bravo! Vail is consistently cited as one of the top classical music festivals in the world, and this year’s festival reinforced that distinction. 

This level of artistic excellence does not occur in a bubble, but rather within a community that supports, appreciates, and contributes to its success. I am inspired by our community that came together to enjoy great music, rain or shine; our community that through its generosity enabled the very best orchestras and musicians to perform in the Vail and Eagle River Valley region; and a community that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure more than 70 performances were presented seamlessly over six weeks.

I am also thankful for our artistic community, including acclaimed orchestra partners and guest artists from around the world that traveled to give exhilarating performances, sometimes bringing our audiences to tears, and always to their feet. Guided by the artistic vision of our remarkable Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott, these orchestral and chamber musicians elevated our festival and solidified Bravo! Vail’s already world-class reputation.   

Artistic highlights from this year’s festival are too numerous to recount; however, some of my favorite moments include hearing the long-awaited world premiere of Chris Rogerson’s “Samaa’” by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; feeling the incredible energy at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Kings of Soul and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony concerts; experiencing the masterful performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony by The Philadelphia Orchestra and Nathalie Stutzmann; and seeing the beautiful intersection of music and nature in the New York Philharmonic’s two Mahler symphony performances and Bravo! Vail’s first-ever musical nature walks in collaboration with Walking Mountains Science Center.

Bravo! Vail’s 35th Festival also embraced elements of artistic creation and reflection. We launched the first full year of our New Works Symphonic Commissioning Project with world premiere performances of works by Chris Rogerson, Katherine Balch, and Carlos Simon. Each composer attended the premieres and participated in fascinating discussions, giving personal insight into their inspiration, creative process, and more.

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We also honored the extraordinary career of Maestro Bramwell Tovey, who sadly passed this summer, shortly before he was to conduct two of our New York Philharmonic performances. Since 2004, Maestro Tovey appeared frequently on Bravo! Vail stages, bringing joy, humor, and outstanding music to our audiences. He was an icon and a wonderful human being and will be greatly missed.

As I cherish these memories from Bravo! Vail’s 35th season, I also look forward to Bravo! Vail’s future with excitement and anticipation. Recently, we announced significant contract extensions for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (2024), the New York Philharmonic (2027), and our beloved Anne-Marie McDermott (2025). These extensions ensure the highest artistic quality of our Festival for years to come.

Additionally, Bravo! Vail’s Education and Engagement programs continue to grow year-round throughout the Valley, including Music Makers “Haciendo Música,” now open for registration for the 2022-23 school year. This impactful program in the Eagle and Lake County school districts provides low-cost, afterschool violin and piano instruction to students in grades 2-12. We continue to expand this and other engagement programs, providing even greater access to music and music education in our community.

On a final note, I extend my deepest thanks to Bravo! Vail’s Board of Trustees, Advisory Council, Guild and staff for their countless hours of work and endless dedication throughout the year, ensuring the success of this Festival. And so importantly, Bravo! Vail would not be possible without the support of so many — our patrons, donors, partners, sponsors, and all those who attended our events. You are the reason the world’s finest classical music festival takes place right here in Vail.

Please mark your calendars for the 36th Bravo! Vail Music Festival, taking place from June 22-Aug. 3, 2023, and visit and our social media platforms to keep up-to-date on exciting announcements and programming. If you are already part of the Bravo! Vail family, we look forward to welcoming you back. If not, we hope you consider joining our passionate community of people who come together to experience beautiful classical music in the mountains.

Caitlin Murray is the executive director of the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.

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