This crowd-pleasing program features Pianist Haochen Zhang, winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, in his Vail debut with a brilliant but rarely performed Rachmaninoff concerto, followed by all the beauty, restless energy, humor, and wonder that is Beethoven’s masterful Seventh Symphony. The program opens with a world premiere from a young French composer, notable for his wide-ranging influences and colorful orchestrations.
THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA
STÉPHANE DENÈVE, CONDUCTOR
HAOCHEN ZHANG SOLOIST
GUILLAUME CONNESSON: World Premiere Commissioned by Bravo! - Le Tombeau des Regrets
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 4
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7
GUILLAUME CONNESSON: WORLD PREMIERE OF A NEWLY COMMISSIONED WORK, LE TOMBEAU DES REGRETS
Commissioned by Bravo! Vail as part of the NEW WORKS PROJECT.
GUILLAUME CONNESSON (B. 1970)
At just 47 years old, Connesson brings together the imaginatively diverse range of influences you might expect from a child of the 70s and 80s, from the rich musical traditions of his native France to the movie music of Bernard Hermann and John Williams, innovators like John Adams and Steve Reich, even the get-down funk of James Brown. As Gramophone magazine noted, his “retro, razzle-dazzle eclecticism knows no bounds.”
RACHMANINOFF: PIANO CONCERTO NO. 4
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40 (1926)
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Rachmaninoff fled to America in November 1918 after he had been driven out of his native Russia by revolution. His financial situation when he arrived was difficult, since his family’s wealth had been confiscated by the Bolsheviks, and the income from the performances of his works was meager because Russia was not then a signatory of the international copyright laws that would have ensured his royalties. To support his family and pick up the frayed threads of his career, Rachmaninoff began the coast-to-coast performance tours that were to continue virtually uninterrupted for the next 25 years. So intense was his concertizing during his first American decade that he was unable to compose a single piece. It was not until 1926, when he began the Piano Concerto No. 4, that he again found time for creative work.
The Concerto opens with an energetic orchestral flourish as introduction to the main theme, presented by the piano. A transition, filled with rippling figurations for the soloist, leads to the poetic second subject, given by the unaccompanied piano, and another lyrical strain initiated by the violins. The development section is rhapsodic in nature. The order of the themes is reversed in the recapitulation. The entire Largo is built on the movement’s opening theme. The outer sections are unsettled in emotion, mixing major and minor tonalities; the central episode is a stormy transformation of the theme. The finale is a dazzling display of athletic virtuosity for the soloist.
BEETHOVEN: SYMPHONY NO. 7
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92 (1811-1812)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
The Seventh Symphony is a magnificent creation in which Beethoven displayed several technical innovations that were to have a profound influence on the music of the 19th century: he expanded the scope of symphonic structure through the use of more distant tonal areas; he brought an unprecedented richness and range to the orchestral palette; and he gave a new awareness of rhythm as the vitalizing force in music. It is particularly the last of these characteristics that most immediately affects the listener, and to which commentators have consistently turned to explain the vibrant power of the work. Perhaps the most famous such observation about the Seventh Symphony is that of Richard Wagner, who called the work “the apotheosis of the Dance in its highest aspect ... the loftiest deed of bodily motion incorporated in an ideal world of tone.”
A slow introduction, almost a movement in itself, opens the Symphony. This initial section employs two themes: the first, majestic and unadorned, is passed down through the winds while being punctuated by long, rising scales in the strings; the second is a graceful melody for oboe. The transition to the main part of the first movement is accomplished by the superbly controlled reiteration of a single pitch. This device both connects the introduction with the exposition and also establishes the long-short-short rhythm that dominates the movement. The Allegretto scored such a success at its premiere that it was immediately encored, a phenomenon virtually unprecedented for a slow movement. In form, the movement is a series of variations on the heartbeat rhythm of its opening measures. In spirit, however, it is more closely allied to the austere chaconne of the Baroque era than to the light, figural variations of Classicism. The third movement, a study in contrasts of sonority and dynamics, is built on the formal model of the scherzo, but expanded to include a repetition of the horn-dominated Trio (Scherzo – Trio – Scherzo – Trio – Scherzo). In the sonata-form finale, Beethoven not only produced music of virtually unmatched rhythmic energy (“a triumph of Bacchic fury,” in the words of Sir Donald Tovey), but also did it in such a manner as to exceed the climaxes of the earlier movements and make it the goal toward which they had all been aimed.
Stéphane Denève is the Principal Guest Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang has captivated audiences in the United States, Europe, and Asia with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination and spectacular virtuosity.
Guillaume Connesson has emerged as one of the more promising voices of the younger generation of French composers. He has won a number of prizes for his compositions, including the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Prize in 1999.
Stéphane Denève is currently in his sixth season as principal guest conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra. He spends multiple weeks each year with the ensemble, conducting subscription, tour, and summer concerts. Mr. Denève has become very well known to audiences at Verizon Hall, the Mann Center, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, having appeared as guest conductor numerous times since making his debut in 2007. He has led more programs than any other guest conductor during that time period, in repertoire that has spanned more than 100 works, ranging from Classical through the contemporary, including presentations with dance, theater, film, and cirque performers.
He is also the Music Director of the Brussels Philharmonic and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Director of the Centre for Future Orchestral Repertoire (CffOR). He has previously served as Chief Conductor of Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) and Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Recognized internationally for the exceptional quality of his performances and programming, he regularly appears at major concert venues with the world’s greatest orchestras and soloists. He has a special affinity for the music of his native France and is a passionate advocate for music of the 21st century.
Recent engagements include appearances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Vienna Symphony, DSO Berlin, NHK Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, and Rotterdam Philharmonic. In North America he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2012 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has appeared several times both in Boston and at Tanglewood, and he regularly conducts The Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Toronto Symphony. He is also a popular guest at many of the US summer music festivals, including Bravo! Vail, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Hollywood Bowl, Blossom Music Festival, Festival Napa Valley, Grand Teton Music Festival, and Music Academy of the West.
He enjoys close relationships with many of the world’s leading solo artists, including Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yo-Yo Ma, Nikolaj Znaider, James Ehnes, Leif Ove Andsnes, Leonidas Kavakos, Nicholas Angelich, Lang Lang, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Gil Shaham, Emanuel Ax, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Lars Vogt, Nikolai Lugansky, Paul Lewis, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, and Augustin Hadelich.
In the field of opera, Stéphane Denève led a new production of Pelléas et Mélisande with the Netherlands Opera at the 2019 Holland Festival. Elsewhere, he has led productions at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Festival, La Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Saito Kinen Festival, Gran Teatro de Liceu, La Monnaie, Deutsche Oper Am Rhein, and at the Opéra National de Paris.
As a recording artist, he has won critical acclaim for his recordings of the works of Poulenc, Debussy, Ravel, Roussel, Franck and Connesson. He is a triple winner of the Diapason d’Or of the Year, has been shortlisted for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year Award, and has won the prize for symphonic music at the International Classical Music Awards. His most recent releases include a live recording of Honegger’s Jeanne d’arc au bûcher with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and two discs of the works of Guillaume Connesson with the Brussels Philharmonic (the first of which was awarded the Diapason d’Or de l’année, Caecilia Award, and Classica Magazine’s CHOC of the Year).
A graduate and prize-winner of the Paris Conservatoire, Stéphane Denève worked closely in his early career with Sir Georg Solti, Georges Prêtre and Seiji Ozawa. A gifted communicator and educator, he is committed to inspiring the next generation of musicians and listeners, and has worked regularly with young people in programmes such as those of the Tanglewood Music Center, New World Symphony, the Colburn School, the European Union Youth Orchestra, and the Music Academy of the West.
Photo credit: Bart Dewaele
Since his gold medal win at the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, 26-year-old Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang has captivated audiences in the United States, Europe, and Asia with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination and spectacular virtuosity.
He has already appeared with many of the world’s leading festivals and concert series and following his performance of Liszt Concerto No. 1 at the BBC Proms with Yu Long and the China Philharmonic received rave reviews: ‘He made the Allegretto dance with Mendelssohnian lightness and Lisztian diablerie, and played the melody of the Quasi Adagio with melting softness.’ Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph.
A popular guest soloist for many orchestras in his native China, Haochen made his debut in Munich with the Munich Philharmonic and the late maestro Lorin Maazel in April 2013, preceding their sold-out tour. Haochen has also toured in China with the Sydney Symphony and David Robertson, in Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai with the NDR Hamburg and Thomas Hengelbrock and following a performance in December 2014 with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in Beijing, Mo. Gergiev immediately invited him to his Easter Festival in Moscow, Russia.
Highlights of the 16/17 season include a new recital CD, to be released by BIS in February, which includes works of Schumann, Brahms, Janacek and Liszt; extensive recital and concerto tours in Asia with performances in China, Hong Kong and Japan; return engagements with Philadelphia Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Haochen will also give recitals in San Francisco, Palma de Malloca, Imola, Helsingborg, among others. He makes his debuts with the RTV Slovenia and Asturias Symphony Orchestras, and will tour Europe with the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra having been their resident artist in the previous season.
In past seasons, Haochen Zhang has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, LA Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, London Symphony, Japan Philharmonic Singapore Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras. In recital he has performed at Spivey Hall, La Jolla Music Society, Celebrity Series of Boston, CU Artist Series, Cliburn Concerts, Krannert Center, Wolf Trap Discovery Series, Lied Center of Kansas and UVM Lane Series, among others. International tours have taken him to cities including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Dresden, Rome, Tivoli, Verbier, Montpellier, Helsingborg, Bogota and Belgrade. Haochen is also an avid chamber musician, collaborating with colleagues such as the Shanghai String Quartet, Benjamin Beilman and is frequently invited by chamber music festivals in the US.
Haochen’s performances at the Cliburn Competition were released to critical acclaim by Harmonia Mundi in 2009. He is also featured in Peter Rosen’s award-winning documentary chronicling the 2009 Cliburn Competition, A Surprise in Texas. His complete competition performances are available on www.cliburn.tv.
Haochen is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied under Gary Graffman. He was previously trained at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Shenzhen Arts School, where he was admitted in 2001 at the age of 11 to study with Professor Dan Zhaoyi.
Photo: Benjamin Ealovega
Guillaume Connesson's style has been described as highly individual in its generally accessible language, having hints of Ravel, Messiaen, Stravinsky, and others. Among his most successful works are Supernova for orchestra and Techno-Parade for flute, clarinet and piano.
Connesson was born in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt in 1970. He took piano lessons in his youth and became quite accomplished on the instrument early on. Later he enrolled at the Conservatoire National de Région in Boulogne-Billancourt, where he studied piano and choral music. More advanced study came at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, where he studied composition and orchestration. Among his most important teachers have been composer Marcel Landowski, conductor/pedagogue Dominique Rouits and composer/conductor Alain Louvier.
Among Connesson's earliest successes was his orchestral work Fêtes du solstice, premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in 1992. He continued to draw attention for the compositions that followed, including the orchestral piece Night-Club, written in 1996. By this time he was attracting many impressive commissions, which he met with his usual facility and highly individual imagination. His 1997 orchestral piece Supernova, written on a commission from the Montpellier Philharmonic Orchestra, which premiered the work, won the Cardin Prize of the Institute of France in 1998.
Subsequent compositions also quickly gained attention. Among them are his choral work Liturgies of the Shade (2000) and Night Scenes (2001), for orchestra. Among his first recordings has been the 2005 BMG release entitled Techno-Parade, which contained the titled work as well as other instrumental pieces, including Disco-Toccata (1994) and Jurassic Trip (1998).
While Connesson has achieved success in his native France, he has been making considerable headway abroad, as well: his 2005 orchestral work Une Lueur dans l'age sombre (A Glimmer in the Age of Darkness) was commissioned by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and premiered by that ensemble in September 2005, under conductor Stéphane Denève, the work's dedicatee. It was given its Canadian premiere in November 2005 by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, also under Denève's direction. Connesson has served as professor of orchestration at the CNR, Aubervilliers, France.
Artist Biography by Robert Cummings
Photo: Ben Morris
Need help planning your visit to the Vail Valley? We've got you covered- from travel recommendations, to lodging and dining options, we want your entire visit to be top notch.LEARN MORE
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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).