Bravo! Vail Still Brings Stars To Perform This Summer

Tomas Cohen
Donald Runnicles conducts The Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Bravo! Vail in 2019

This week for CPR Summerfest, CPR Classical features Bravo! Vail Music Festival.

No big-named orchestras will visit Vail this year. Typically, the Dallas Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and others trek to the quaint Euro-chalet resort town for a weeklong residency. Bravo! Vail Music Festival’s 2020 summer plans were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re offering a few delightful surprises over the next several weeks, including top-flight concerts with a live (small) audience, almost unheard of in Colorado this summer. 

Bravo! Vail’s online offerings will include short videos from this summer’s performances and a deep dive into the music for both children and adults. See more on the Summerfest Virtual Concert Calendar. The festival also busted a rather creative move by building a type of “tiny home” mobile concert hall to bring live music into the Vail Valley this summer to serve the community. 

Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott celebrates 10 years as the festival’s artistic director this summer. She admitted that when the pandemic struck, she “felt kinda paralyzed the first month.” She talked more to CPR Classical’s David Ginder about some of their plans. 

Tomorrow’s opening concert at the Ford Amphitheatre kicks off a Thursday night chamber music series with only 175 tickets available per concert to a physically-distanced, masked audience. Attendees will need to sign a waiver in advance. With a covered seating capacity of 1,260 and another 1,300 on the lawn, there will be room to safely spread out for these otherwise intimate performances. 

McDermott scored a host of talent, leveraging her close network of distinguished musicians. Perhaps the biggest “get” is renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman who ran into McDermott serendipitously while she was walking her dog in New York City (They’re neighbors!). He wanted to participate. The two world-class pianists will wrap up the Thursday chamber music series together in a four-hand piano performance of Schubert and Brahms at the Ford. 

Another treat on the series: violinist Ida Kavafian, the founding artistic director at Bravo! Vail, and a few of McDermott’s own family members. Her sister, violinist Kerry McDermott, normally plays Bravo! as a member of the New York Philharmonic each summer. Kerry’s husband, revered violist Paul Neubauer will also play, joined by their two children, Clara and Oliver; both study violin at the Juilliard School with Itzhak Perlman. The immediate family of four will perform together on July 23rd.  

Anne-Marie McDermott is excited about getting on stage after all the cancellations and indeterminacy of the past four months, “I have no doubt it's going to be completely memorable and I think I’ll probably be a little more nervous than I normally would be,” she told CPR Classical’s Jen Hitt

“We’re taking it a day at a time and being super overly cautious. And if we have to adjust or adapt, we will. We’re going to find our way through this. We have to.”

CPR Classical features live recordings from Bravo! Vail during the Summer of Stars Concert Series this weekend (Friday @ 12:30 p.m., Saturday @ 6 p.m. & Sunday @ 4 p.m.), highlighting the Beethoven’s 250th this year. Anne-Marie McDermott plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #1 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra led by Donald Runnicles and Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic in Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony. Violinist Joshua Bell plays J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra open with Anna Clyne’s Masquerade, composed in 2013 by the rising young composer.

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