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How to Prepare
New to Bravo! Vail or the classical music experience? Take a look at our guide for first-timers including tips to enhance your concert experience.
Q: How do I get to the Gerald R Ford Amphitheater? Directions and parking information the Gerald R Ford Amphitheater located here.
A: We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to park, walk or ride the bus, and find your seats at the amphitheater.
Q: What should I wear to an orchestra concert?
A: No need to stress out about what to wear to a Bravo! Vail concert. We adhere to the “Colorado Casual” approach. There is no dress code for concerts — wear what makes you most comfortable! You can dress more formally if you like or throw on a pair of jeans. Just one word of advice: while the summers in Colorado are perfect, the evenings often bring rain showers and cooler temps. Be prepared for both.
Q: When is the right time to applaud?
A: Today’s concert etiquette is to hold your applause until the entire work has been performed. However, here at Bravo! Vail, we want you to follow your instincts. If you’re not sure if it’s ok to applaud, look for the conductor to give the audience the cue when the work is over (or watch what your fellow audience members are doing!).
Musicians love applause. As a guide, audience members normally applaud:
- When the Concertmaster (violin) walks onto the stage.
- When the Conductor walks onto the stage.
- After the completion of each piece and at the end of the performance.
Q: How long are concerts?
A. Concerts are typically about two hours including a 15 minute intermission.
Q: What should I expect from an orchestra concert?
A: Let go of any presumptions you may have about the classical music concert experience. This is an opportunity to open your mind and to allow yourself to be taken on a journey by the conductor and musicians through the music. Expect to enjoy yourself.
Q: Do I need to know anything about classical music to enjoy the concert?
A: No, don't worry if you do not have a classical music background, the music will speak for itself! If you are interested in learning more about the evening’s program, take a look at our Inside the Music (link) content where you can read up on the digital version of the season Program Book (available mid-June), and the Guide to the Music. Complimentary Program Books are also handed out at each concert. The Season Program Book features each piece of music along with a detailed program note focusing on the composer and history of the work. In addition, you can attend a free pre-concert talk for select concerts (link).
Concertgoers often find they enjoy the music more if they have heard it prior to the concert—look for a performance on YouTube, or listen to the piece on Spotify, iTunes, or Pandora—otherwise just come along and enjoy with an open mind.
Q: Will I recognize any music?
A: Odds are, you’ll recognize far more than you realize. Many of us have been exposed to classical music in today’s pop culture-- in movies, television, and radio, like the Lone Ranger theme (Rossini’s William Tell Overture), the Bugs Bunny cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” (Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries), United Airlines commercials (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and many more.
Q: When do concerts start?
A: Our concerts start promptly at the published start time, and latecomers may be asked to wait until the end of the first movement or the end of a work to be seated. We recommend arriving early so you can be comfortably settled in and ready to enjoy the concert when it begins. Many of our concerts take place in venues where parking can be a little tricky, so please plan accordingly. With time to spare, you can visit the concessions and explore the Program Book before the music begins. We don’t want you to rush to find your seat—arrive early and make your concert experience a relaxing and enjoyable one.
Q: What if I arrive late?
A: Concerts start on time, so latecomers will be asked by an usher to wait until an appropriate stopping point during the concert to be admitted.
Q: What about general concert etiquette?
A: Above all, we want you to have a beautiful, musically rich concert experience. We ask that all concertgoers help to ensure a mutually enjoyable evening by silencing all devices such as cell phones, watch alarms, and pagers. Please take time to turn these off prior to performances, so they don’t disrupt musicians and other patrons. Likewise, please limit conversations and other noise-making activities during the music, so everyone can enjoy the concert undisturbed.
Except for emergencies, we ask that you stay in your seat until intermission or the end of the performance. Please note that those who exit the pavilion or lawn during the performance will need to wait until an appropriate interval, usually intermission, to re-enter.
After the performance, traffic in and out of the amphitheater, the Ford parking lot, and the parking structure can be congested. Why not walk around Vail and enjoy a late dinner or post-concert cocktails? Take a look at our featured Vail restaurants here. Bravo! recommends making dinner reservation for 8:15 or later, but please check your performance run time (in the program book, or on our website), for exact program timings.
Q: Should I bring the kids?
A: You know your children best, and you know how long they can usually sit and enjoy the music without becoming restless. Bravo! Vail welcomes kids, but some of our performances are more suitable for the little ones. Take a look at our Concert Experience for Kids section for preparation tips, at the concert tips, and suggested performances for kids. Lawn seats are generally an ideal experience for families with more room to spread out on a blanket and let the kids move to the music. Child lawn tickets are only $5! Children are not permitted to sit on laps in the pavilion seats
Additional Resources to guide you on your visit to Bravo! Vail: