Bravo! Vail chamber series provides relaxation, intimacy |

Bravo! Vail chamber series provides relaxation, intimacy

Members of the Calder Quartet, pictured here, will perform with Le Train Bleu, soprano Mary Mackenzie and Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott on Thursday at the final event in the Silver Oak and Twomey chamber music series.
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The best deal in town this entire summer has to be Bravo! Vail’s Silver Oak and Twomey Series. Back for its third season, this series converges great music, food and world-class wines. Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott has created a new atmosphere for listening — relaxed, elegant, intimate and enveloped by the beauty of the outdoors. Seating is cabaret style, with the musicians up close and personal.

What’s better than mingling with other music lovers over great food and Silver Oak and Twomey wines while experiencing the beauty of nature?

New to the series are “food artists,” the caterers of Three Tomatoes, who promise to blend the freshest ingredients into perfectly hand-prepared, delectable cuisine — fare that excites the senses and delights the palate. Ticket purchases include this gourmet selection of food from Three Tomatoes paired with two glasses of either Silver Oak or Twomey wines. No wonder these performances always sell out.

The ambiance we’ve created for the series strips away the conventions of routine concert performances, so we can relax just a bit more and have the music wash over us while basking in a room awash in candlelight. As the night wears on and it gets darker outside, the romantic vibe only intensifies.

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McDermott takes us on a musical journey over three days through a wide assortment of music from different genres and centuries. She magically combines it all into an amazingly integrated whole. In a short three-day period, you will hear solo piano, guitar, string quartet, a large instrumental ensemble, harp, flute, clarinet and voice. And, the music comes from 18th century Germany, 19th century Austria and France, as well as 20th and 21st century America. I think these programs are thought provoking, stunning and just plain enjoyable, too.

The Silver Oak and Twomey Series opens on Tuesday with the Calder Quartet and the ensemble Le Train Bleu, direct from New York, performing alternating works by the great French master Maurice Ravel and the living American composer Christopher Rouse. From Ravel’s evocative and shimmering Introduction and Allegro to Rouse’s string quartet (an homage to both Bartok and Anwar Sadat), this is a concert of impressionistic and ethereal harmonies.

For Wednesday, McDermott has really scaled things down to just her and a guitarist, James Moore. The concert begins with McDermott bookending two delightful keyboard sonatas of Franz Joseph Haydn around contemporary American composer Charles Wuorinen’s “Fourth Piano Sonata.” Written in 2007 specifically for her, Wuorinen’s sonata is complex, thrilling and demands the highest musical and technical prowess from its performer. Only someone of McDermott’s prodigious skills could tackle a work of this magnitude with such finesse and expertise.

James Moore then performs a diverse array of American works on his resonator guitar, an acoustic instrument with sound produced by one or more spun metal cones instead of a wooden sound board. Resonator guitars were originally designed to be louder than regular acoustic guitars, which were overwhelmed by horns and percussion instruments in dance orchestras. Moore even performs Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 6 in D major,” an unusual treat.


The Silver Oak and Twomey Series concludes on Thursday, with the largest group of musicians on any chamber music concert of the entire summer. Le Train Bleu is joined by soprano Mary Mackenzie, McDermott and members of the Calder Quartet. German romanticism is lovingly on display through a set of songs by Schubert and Schumann, as well as Schubert’s Adagio and Rondo Concertante. On the second half is the part musical, part theatrical, “Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai” (In the Beautiful Month of May) by Dutch composer-conductor Reinbert de Leeuw. A mash up of German art song and cabaret, this haunting, riveting work is given a rare American performance in Vail.

Jim Palermo is Bravo! Vail’s president and executive director. For more information, visit or call 970-827-5700.

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