The Academy’s enchanting season opening celebration features a magical overture, the rousing Scottish Fantasy, and Beethoven’s beloved “Pastoral” Symphony with its wondrous depictions of idyllic nature.
ACADEMY OF ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS
JOSHUA BELL, DIRECTOR & VIOLIN
MENDELSSOHN: Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture
BRUCH: Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”
MENDELSSOHN: MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM OVERTURE
Overture to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Mendelssohn was enamored during his teenage years with reading the works of Shakespeare, who, next to the arch-Romantic Jean-Paul, was his favorite writer. Shakespeare’s plays had been appearing in excellent German translations since the turn of the 19th century, and young Mendelssohn particularly enjoyed the fantasy world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play inspired the budding composer, and in the summer of 1826 he wrote an overture to the play. On November 19th, Felix played the original piano duet version of the score with his sister, Fanny, on one of the family’s frequent Sunday musicales in their Berlin mansion. A private orchestral performance followed before the end of the year. In February, the work was first played publicly, in Stettin. It immediately garnered a success that has never waned.
The Overture is the greatest piece of orchestral music ever composed by one so young, including Mozart and Schubert. Woven into its music are thematic representations of the woodland sprites, the shimmering light through forest leaves, the sweet sighs of the lovers, even the “ee-ah” braying of that memorable Rustic, Bottom, when he is turned into an ass. In matters of formal construction, orchestral color and artistic polish, this Overture quite simply is a masterpiece.
BRUCH: SCOTTISH FANTASY FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA
Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 46 (1879-1880)
MAX BRUCH (1838-1920)
Bruch, like many Romantic composers, was interested throughout his life in folk song. In 1863, he published twelve Scottish folk airs in four-part settings, and incorporated German, British and Hebrew traditional music into his works. (His Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra was based on an ancient chant of the Hebrew ritual.) When Bruch was conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society from 1878 to 1880, he took the opportunity to gather first-hand knowledge of Great Britain’s indigenous music, and, like Mendelssohn (one of the gods in Bruch’s musical pantheon), he was inspired by the music, lore and land of Scotland to produce one of his finest works — the Fantasy with Free Use of Scottish Airs for Violin and Orchestra.
Abraham Veinus wrote, “Bruch operates freely with a set of Scottish folk melodies, distinguished, as such melodies are, by a wholesome simplicity and beauty. Grafted on to this is the kind of elaborate virtuoso technique which usually brings the house down. Bruch’s harmonic idiom and his orchestration technique run to juicy, well-rounded and solidly set sonorities.” The opening movement is divided almost equally between a solemn introduction and an elegant setting of the tune Auld Rob Morris. Music scholar Wilhelm Altmann, a Berlin friend of Bruch, said that the Fantasy had been inspired by the books of Sir Walter Scott. The prominence of the harp, with its bardic and folk associations, prompted Altmann to continue that this opening movement represents “an old bard who contemplates a ruined castle and laments the glorious times of old.” The vigorous second movement, subtitled Dance, is based on the song Hey, the Dusty Miller. The next movement is a richly bedecked version of the touching Scottish love ballad I’m a-doun for lack o’ Johnnie. The rousing finale uses the traditional war song Scots wha hae, which, according to legend, was sounded by Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
BEETHOVEN: SYMPHONY NO. 6, "PASTORAL"
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, “Pastoral” (1807-1808)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Beethoven gave each movement of his “Pastoral” Symphony a title. The first movement, filled with verdant sweetness and good humor, is headed The Awakening of Cheerful Feelings at the Arrival in the Country. The violins present a simple theme that pauses briefly after only four measures, as though the composer were alighting from a coach and taking a deep breath of the fragrant air before beginning his walk along a shaded path. The melody grows more vigorous before it quiets to lead to the second theme, a descending motive played by violins. Again, the spirits swell and then relax before the main theme returns to occupy most of the development. The recapitulation returns the themes of the exposition in more richly orchestrated settings. Scene at the Brook exudes an air of tranquility amid gentle activity. The sonata-form movement starts with a fragmentary idea in the first violins sounded above a rich accompaniment. The second subject begins with a descending motion, like that of the first movement, but then turns back upward to form an inverted arch. A development section utilizing the main theme follows. The recapitulation recalls the earlier themes with enriched orchestration. In the closing pages of this movement, the rustling accompaniment ceases while all Nature seems to hold its breath to listen to the songs of three birds — the nightingale, the dove and the cuckoo. Twice this tiny avian concert is performed before the movement comes quietly to its close. Merry Gathering of the Peasants is filled with a rustic bumptiousness and simple humor that recall a hearty if somewhat ungainly country dance; the central trio is a stomping dance. The festivity is halted mid-step by distant thunder portending a Storm. As the tempest passes over the horizon, the silvery voice of the flute leads into the finale, Shepherd’s Song: Joyful, Thankful Feelings after the Storm. The clarinet and then the horn sing the unpretentious melody of a shepherd, which returns, rondo-fashion, to support the form of the movement.
With a career spanning more than 30 years, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Academy of St Martin in the Fields Music Director Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era.
With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. An exclusive Sony Classical artist, he has recorded more than 40 CDs garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards, and is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, as well as the Lumiere Prize for his work in the sphere of Virtual Reality. Named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958, and recently renewed his contract through 2020. In 2016, Sony released Bell’s album For the Love of Brahms with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk, followed in 2017 by the Joshua Bell Classical Collection, a 14 CD set of Bell’s Sony recording highlights from the past 20 years.
Summer 2017 saw Joshua Bell perform at the BBC Proms with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Verbier Festival, as Artist In Residence at the Edinburgh International Festival and – in the US - at Tanglewood, Ravinia, and the Mostly Mozart Festival. In the 2017/18 season in the US, Bell takes part in the New York Philharmonic’s celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, performing Bernstein’s Serenade led by Alan Gilbert, and also appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra among others. His North American recital tours take him to Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Washington D.C.’s Strathmore Center. Highlights in Europe include appearances as soloist with the Vienna Symphony and Danish National Symphony; as director and soloist with the Orchestre National de Lyon; and recitals in Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Bologna, Milan and London. With the Academy of St Martin in the Fields he will tour widely including in the United Kingdom, United States and Europe, featuring performances in London, New York, San Francisco, Reykjavik and at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
Convinced of the value of music as a diplomatic and educational tool, Bell participated in President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ first cultural mission to Cuba. He is also involved in Turnaround Arts, another project implemented by the Committee and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which provides arts education to low-performing elementary and middle schools.
Joshua Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte.
Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
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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).