A 175th birthday celebration of the New York Philharmonic! Guest conductor Bramwell Tovey leads America’s oldest orchestra in a quintessentially American program including Charles Ives’s youthful Variations on “America” and three Broadway-told tales of Americans around the world: Porgy and Bess, West Side Story, and the immortal American in Paris.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC: CONDUCTED BY BRAMWELL TOVEY
J'NAI BRIDGES, VOCALIST
IVES: Variations on “America”
GERSHWIN: Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture, I Got Rhythm, Embraceable You, Our Love is Here to Stay, The Man I Love, An American in Paris
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
IVES: VARIATIONS ON "AMERICA"
Variations on a National Hymn, “America” (1891)
CHARLES IVES (1874-1954)
ORCHESTRATED (1963) BY WILLIAM SCHUMAN (1910-1992)
In 1889, Ives’ beloved hometown of Danbury, Connecticut was incorporated as a city. Civic celebrations were held in June, with a concert produced by Ives’ father, George, at Taylor’s Opera House as the culmination of the festivities. Ives’ memory of that gala performance, especially of its inspiring closing selection, was stirred two years later, in 1891, when he played the Variations on “God Save the King” (i.e., the same tune as America, which had served as the festivity’s grand finale) by the German composer J.C.H. Rinck on the organ of Danbury’s Baptist Church. Soon thereafter Ives wrote his own set of organ variations on the melody. He was seventeen. Though conventional in structure, Ives’ Variations on “America” are hardly orthodox in content, ranging from hymn to march to polonaise. The most startling part of the score is the short polytonal interlude in which blazing dissonances are created though the simultaneous use of several keys. Even father George, avowed experimentalist that he was (he would, for example, accompany his son on the home piano in one key and have the boy sing the melody in another), warned Charlie that he should leave out this section at a performance in Brewster, New York because the rehearsals in Danbury had shown that it “made the boys laugh out loud and get noisy.” The interlude remained.
GERSHWIN: PORGY AND BESS: A SYMPHONIC PICTURE
Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Picture (1934-1935)
GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
ARRANGED (1941) BY ROBERT RUSSELL BENNETT (1894-1981)
Porgy and Bess is set in the 1930s in Catfish Row, an African American tenement in Charleston. The curtain rises on Clara singing a lullaby (Summertime) to her child. Crown quarrels with Robbins during a crap game, kills him and escapes. Robbins is mourned by his wife, Serena (My Man’s Gone Now). Crown’s girl, Bess, finds refuge with the cripple, Porgy, who loves her devotedly. They sing of their happiness (I Got Plenty o’ Nothin’ and Bess, You Is My Woman Now). During a picnic on Kittiwah Island, Sportin’ Life, the local dope peddler, describes his cynical attitude toward religion (It Ain’t Necessarily So). Crown, who has been hiding on the island, confronts Bess and persuades her to stay with him. Having fallen sick, she returns to Porgy, who nurses her back to health. They reassure each other of their love (I Loves You, Porgy). During a storm, Crown returns to Catfish Row. Porgy strangles his rival. The police suspect Porgy and arrest him. Sportin’ Life tempts Bess to accompany him to New York with a package of his “happy dust.” Released from jail a few days later, Porgy learns that Bess has gone. Undaunted, he sets off in his goat cart to follow her (Oh, Lawd, I’m On My Way).
BERNSTEIN: SYMPHONIC DANCES FROM WEST SIDE STORY
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (1957)
LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
West Side Story was among the first musicals to explore a serious subject with wide social implications. More than just the story of the tragic lives of ordinary people in a grubby section of New York, it was concerned with urban violence, juvenile delinquency, clan hatred and young love. The show was criticized as harshly realistic by some who advocated an entirely escapist function for the musical, since it depicted things that were not appropriately shown on the Broadway stage. However, most recognized that it expanded the scope of the musical through references both to classical literature (Romeo and Juliet) as well as the pressing problems of modern society. Much of the show’s electric atmosphere was generated by its brilliant dance sequences, for which Jerome Robbins won the 1957-1958 Tony Award for choreography.
GERSHWIN: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
An American in Paris (1928)
GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
In 1928, George Gershwin was not only the toast of Broadway, but also of all America, Britain and many spots in Europe. He had produced a string of successful shows (Rosalie and Funny Face were both running on Broadway that spring), composed two of the most popular concert pieces in recent memory (Rhapsody in Blue and the Piano Concerto in F), and was leading a life that would have made the most glamorous socialite jealous. The pace-setting Rhapsody in Blue of 1924 had shown a way to bridge the worlds of jazz and serious music, a direction Gershwin followed further in the exuberant yet haunting Piano Concerto in F the following year. He was eager to move further into the concert world, and during a side trip in March 1926 to Paris from London, where he was preparing the English premiere of Lady Be Good, he hit upon an idea, a “walking theme” he called it, that seemed to capture the impression of an American visitor to the city “as he strolls about, listens to the various street noises, and absorbs the French atmosphere.” Late in 1927, a commission for a new orchestral composition from Walter Damrosch, music director of the New York Symphony and conductor of the sensational premiere of the Concerto in F, caused Gershwin to gather up his Parisian sketches, and by January 1928, he was at work on the score: An American in Paris. When he returned to New York in late June, he discovered that the New York Symphony had announced the premiere for the upcoming season, so he worked on the piece throughout the autumn and finished the orchestration only a month before the premiere, on December 13, 1928. An American in Paris, though met with a mixed critical reception, proved to be a great success with the public, and it quickly became clear that Gershwin had scored yet another hit.
Grammy and Juno award-winning conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey has most recently added the title of Artistic Director of Calgary Opera Company to his role as Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra and Artistic Advisor to the Rhode Island Philharmonic.
American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after talents of her generation.
Grammy and Juno award-winning conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey is the newly appointed Music Director Designate of the Sarasota Orchestra.
He will continue in his roles as Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, Artistic Advisor to the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec.
Following an exceptional 18 year tenure as Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony, which concluded in summer 2018, he now returns as the orchestra’s Music Director Emeritus. Under his leadership the VSO toured China, Korea, across Canada and the United States. His VSO innovations included the establishment of the VSO School of Music, the VSO’s annual festival of contemporary music and the VSO Orchestral Institute at Whistler, a comprehensive summer orchestral training program for young musicians held in the scenic mountain resort of Whistler in British Columbia.
With the resumption of concerts in summer 2021 Mr. Tovey has conducted the New York Philharmonic at Bravo Vail, Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and will lead the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Proms before embarking on a full schedule including a special concert in Sarasota to mark the beginning of his tenure followed by guest appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Helsingborg Symphony, Sweden.
In 2003 Bramwell Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. His song cycle, Ancestral Voices, which addresses the issue of Reconciliation, was written for acclaimed Kwagiulth mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and premiered in June 2017. His trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon, was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony for principal trumpet, Andrew McCandless and performed in 2014 by Alison Balsom with the LA Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. A recording of his opera, The Inventor, commissioned by Calgary Opera, features the original cast, members of UBC Opera and the VSO.
Mr. Tovey was the recipient of the Oskar Morawetz 2015 Prize for Excellence in Music Performance. He was previously Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg where he led the world premiere of Penderecki’s Eighth Symphony on the opening of the principality’s new concert hall, the Philharmonie. He won the Prix d’or of the Academie Lyrique Française for his recording of Jean Cras’ 1922 opera Polyphème with OPL and toured with the orchestra to China, Korea, the United States and throughout Europe.
In 2013 he was appointed an honorary Officer of the Order of Canada for services to music.
American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after talents of her generation.
In the 2016-17 season, J’Nai will make debuts at San Francisco Opera and Bavarian State Opera as Bersi in Andrea Chénier, at Los Angeles Opera as Nefertiti in Akhnaten, and at Vancouver Opera as Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. She will additionally be featured as a soloist at the Marilyn Horne Song Celebration at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, at the Festival de Torroella de Montgrí, with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the Louisville Orchestra, and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, both with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Farewell to Christoph Eschenbach concert with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.
J’Nai’s recent performances have included a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago to sing the role of Carmen in the world premiere of Bel Canto, an opera by Jimmy Lopez, based on the novel by Ann Patchett, the title role in The Rape of Lucretia at Wolf Trap Opera, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with San Diego Opera and Wolf Trap Opera, the title role of Carmen with Finger Lakes Opera, and Adalgisa in Norma with Knoxville Opera.
Her numerous concert engagements have spanned Ravel’s Chansons Medécasses with Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the mezzo-soprano solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in Berkeley, and in Caracas, Venezuela, and with the Oregon Symphony; as a featured soloist in the GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends tribute concert at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles; Ravel’s Shéhérezade with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg; selections from La clemenza di Tito, and works by Mozart and Schubert with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago; the role of Mademoiselle Dangeville in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur with the Opera Orchestra of New York; the mezzo-soprano solo in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the Lexington Philharmonic; chamber works with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Art Institute of Chicago; and other soloist engagements with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, the New Jersey Symphonic Orchestra, as part of WFMT 98.7’s recital series, and with the Conservatory Project at The Kennedy Center.
In 2015, J’Nai completed a three-year residency with the distinguished Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Highlights of her tenure at the Lyric include Inez in Il trovatore under the baton of Asher Fisch, Vlasta in Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, Flora in La traviata, and two student matinee performances of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
J’Nai demonstrated her versatile artistry providing vocals for the historic DVD documentary Bishop Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom as well as at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a member of Chorale Le Chateau. As a young artist with the Glimmerglass Music Festival, J’Nai covered Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and Mrs. Jenks in Copland’s The Tender Land, and sang the title role in Carmen. Additional engagements while a resident artist at the Ryan Center include the title role in Act IV of Carmen for Stars of Lyric Opera, Dorabella in Act I of Così fan tutte for the Grant Park Music Festival, and appearances as a Flower maiden in Parsifal, the Second Wood Nymph in Rusalka, and the Second Maid in Elektra with Chicago Lyric Opera.
In 2015, J’Nai represented the United States at the prestigious Singer of the World Competition in Cardiff, Wales. Additionally, she was the recipient of a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant, a first prize winner at the 2016 Francisco Viñas International Competition, a first prize winner at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Competition, a recipient of the 2013 Sullivan Foundation Award, a 2012 Marian Anderson award winner, the recipient of the 2011 Sara Tucker Study Grant, the recipient of the 2009 Richard F. Gold Grant as the singer with a promising operatic career, and the winner of the 2008 Leontyne Price Foundation Competition.
A native of Lakewood, Washington, J’Nai earned her Master of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where her operatic credits included Carolina Kirchstetten in Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers, Idamante in Idomeneo, Carmen in Le tragedie de Carmen, Teresa in La sonnambula, Iras in Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra and Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress. While at Curtis, J’Nai also appeared as the Madrigalist in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
She received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where she appeared in the U.S. premiere of Xenakis’s Oresteia, conducted by Steven Osgood, and as Polly in Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera to rave reviews from The New York Times.
Photo: Columbia Artists Management
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Where are the orchestra concert performances held?
Bravo! Vail orchestral concerts take place at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (GRFA) located at 530 S. Frontage Rd E Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM (except for the movie screening which starts at 7:30PM). The GRFA lobby opens 90 minutes prior and gates open 60 minutes prior to performances. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get into the venue. Latecomers will be escorted by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park?
FREE concert parking is available at the Vail Parking Structure (241 South Frontage Road East, Vail) and the Lionshead Parking Structure (395 South Frontage Road West, Vail). A Town of Vail Special Event express bus provides continuous service from both parking structures to the GRFA before and after concerts. Limited $10 parking is available at Ford Park by the Tennis Center (500 South Frontage Rd). Additional $10 parking is available at the Vail Athletic/Soccer Field lot.
WALKING DIRECTIONS FROM THE VAIL VILLAGE PARKING STRUCTURE:
Via Gore Creek Trail: 15-minute scenic walk
1. Exit the parking garage by following the Pedestrian Exit signs towards “Vail Village” / “Golden Peak”
2. Turn left out of the parking garage onto East Meadow Drive and head east
3. At the end of the road turn right on Vail Valley Drive and cross the road
4. Turn left on the walking path before the bridge, following the street signs towards "Ford Park"
5. Continuing east, follow the walking path along Gore Creek until reaching the GRFA
Via Frontage Road: 15-minute walk
1. From the top level of the parking garage, exit onto the South Frontage Road
2. Turn right and follow the sidewalk east along the south side of the frontage road
3. Cross East Meadow Drive and continue east along the sidewalk
4. Turn right after passing The Wren at Vail on the right
5. Continue down the path down to the GRFA
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 2 hours including intermission. Please call the box office 877.812.5700 for exact running times.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone: 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover credit cards, cash, and checks. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email,or may be picked up at the Box Office.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater box office is open from 11AM until concert start time (5PM on days with no concerts) during the Festival. Tickets for upcoming performances may be purchased on-site at the GRFA before concerts and during intermission.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up at the Box Office located to the right of the main GRFA entrance lobby. The Box Office is open 11AM to concert start time during the Festival.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
Tickets are non-refundable. You may exchange your tickets ($7 fee per ticket) by calling the Box Office at 877.812.5700 up to 2 days before the concert. You may release your tickets or leave them for a friend at Will Call by calling the Box Office.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets at the Will Call window.
Where are seating options for people with disabilities?
Per the American Disability Act (ADA), the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA seating is available in Section 1 Row L and Section 4 Row O in all reserved seating zones and prices (Premium Aisle, Premium, Reserved, and Saver). A limited number of ADA General Admission Lawn seats are available for sale behind Section 2. You must have a designated ADA lawn seat ticket to sit in this area. By purchasing an ADA seat, you are stating that you require an ADA seat. If purchased fraudulently, you may be subject to relocation. If you need assistance purchasing ADA seating, please call the Box Office at 877.812.5700.
What if it rains?
Concerts take place rain or shine. The GRFA is an open-air venue. Refunds are not given due to weather unless a concert is canceled in its entirety with no performance rescheduled.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts. Please be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures.
What should I bring to the concert?
If you will be on the lawn, a blanket, sunglasses, and a hat are recommended. If rain is predicted, please bring appropriate rain gear. Food, commercially sealed non-alcoholic beverages, low-profile lawn chairs, and umbrellas are permitted at concerts. All backpacks, bags, purses, picnic baskets, and coolers will be checked upon entry.
The following articles are not allowed at the venue: cameras, audio/video recording devices, standard-height lawn chairs, baby strollers, alcoholic beverages, firearms, pets, smoking, skateboards, bicycles, scooters, and skates.
What food and beverages are available for purchase at the GRFA?
Concessions are offered for purchase inside the venue. Menu items include snacks, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. A full bar is also available. All major credit cards and cash are accepted for payment. If you have a pavilion seat, please eat prior to the concert or at intermission.
Are lawn chairs available to rent?
Low-profile lawn chairs are available at the GRFA to rent for $10. You may also rent a lawn chair with your lawn ticket purchase online or by calling the Bravo! Vail Box Office at 877.812.5700. To reserve a lawn chair in advance, please email email@example.com
What are some general rules of concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. In the pavilion seating, we recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What else should I know?
Vail’s high elevation requires adequate hydration and sun protection. Visitors from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Check with the GRFA box office for lost items at intermission or call 970.748.8497.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).