Tovey leads a celebration of America’s distinctive musical voices: the bluesy warmth of jazz, Copland’s whimsical tunes and wide open spaces, and a sparkling choral masterwork with its elegant, life-affirming prayer for peace.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
BRAMWELL TOVEY, CONDUCTOR AND PIANO
COLORADO SYMPHONY CHORUS
DUAIN WOLFE, DIRECTOR
GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue
COPLAND: Old American Songs
BERNSTEIN: Chichester Psalms
GERSHWIN: OVERTURE FROM OH, KAY!
Overture from Oh, Kay! (1926)
GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
The first song by George and Ira Gershwin heard on Broadway was The Real American Folk Song Is a Rag, a number inserted into Nora Bayes’ vaudeville revue Ladies First in 1918. The brothers’ first collaboration on a complete musical was the 1924 Lady, Be Good!, starring Fred and Adele Astaire. (Gershwin had created a sensation with his Rhapsody in Blue earlier that year.) They followed that success with Tip-Toes the next year and Oh, Kay! in 1926, the story (book by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse) of an English Duke and his sister Kay (named for composer Kay Swift, Gershwin’s paramour for the last ten years of his life) who were bootleggers in America during Prohibition. Gertrude Lawrence starred as Kay and introduced the show’s hit number, Someone To Watch Over Me; she was the first British performer to headline an American musical on Broadway. In addition to that American songbook standard, the score also featured Clap Yo’ Hands, Fidgety Feet, Maybe, and Do, Do, Do.
GERSHWIN: RHAPSODY IN BLUE
Rhapsody in Blue for Piano and Orchestra (1924)
GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
ORCHESTRATED BY FERDE GROFÉ (1892-1972)
For George White’s Scandals of 1922, the 24-year-old George Gershwin provided something a little bit different — an opera, a brief, somber one-acter called Blue Monday (later retitled 135th Street) incorporating some jazz elements that White cut after only one performance on the grounds that it was too gloomy. Blue Monday, however, impressed the show’s conductor, Paul Whiteman, who was then gaining a national reputation as the self-styled “King of Jazz” for his adventurous explorations of the new popular music styles with his Palais Royal Orchestra. A year later, Whiteman told Gershwin about his plans for a special program the following February in which he hoped to show some of the ways traditional concert music could be enriched by jazz, and convinced Gershwin to undertake a work for piano solo (to be played by the composer) and Whiteman’s 22-piece orchestra — and then told him that it had to be finished in less than a month. The premiere of the Rhapsody in Blue — New York, Aeolian Hall, February 12, 1924 — was one of the great nights in American music. Many of the era’s most illustrious musicians attended, critics from far and near assembled to pass judgment, and the glitterati of society and culture graced the event. Gershwin fought down his apprehension over his joint debuts as serious composer and concert pianist, and he and his Rhapsody in Blue had a brilliant success.
COPLAND: OLD AMERICAN SONGS
Selections from Old American Songs for Chorus and Orchestra (1950, 1952)
AARON COPLAND (1900-1990)
Soon after he completed the Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson in March 1950, Copland turned to some lighter fare by “newly arranging” a set of five traditional 19th-century American songs for voice and piano on a commission from English composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears for performance at the Aldeburgh Festival. A second group of five followed in 1952, and Copland orchestrated Set I in 1954 and Set II three years later. In her study of Copland’s music, Julia Smith suggested that the Old American Songs form “a kind of vocal suite [and] the accompaniments offer moods by turns nostalgic, energetic, sentimental, devotional and humorous.” The most familiar melody among these Songs is Simple Gifts, the evergreen Shaker tune Copland had earlier used with such excellent effect in Appalachian Spring. Like the other Songs, it taps a deep, quintessentially American sentiment in its sturdy simplicity and its plain words, qualities that Copland captured perfectly in his colorful, atmospheric settings.
BERNSTEIN: CHICHESTER PSALMS
Chichester Psalms for Mixed Choir, Boy Soloist and Orchestra (1965)
LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
The Chichester Psalms was commissioned by the Very Rev. Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester Cathedral for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival, in which the musicians of Chichester have participated with those of the neighboring cathedrals of Salisbury and Winchester since 1959. The mood of the Chichester Psalms is humble and serene, unlike the powerful but despairing nature of Bernstein’s “Kaddish” Symphony of 1963, composed shortly before this work. Both use traditional texts sung in Hebrew, but the message of the Psalms is one of man’s closeness to God rather than the one of frustration and anger and shaken faith engendered by God’s inexplicable acts as portrayed by the “Kaddish.” It is indicative that the composer chose the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is my Shepherd”) for the second movement, the heart of the Chichester Psalms.
The first movement opens with a broad chorale (“Awake, psaltery and harp!”) that serves as the structural buttress for the entire composition. It is transformed, in quick tempo, to open and close the dance-like main body of this movement (in 7/4 meter), and it reappears at the beginning and end of the finale in majestic settings. The exuberant energy of the fast music of the first movement is a perfect embodiment of the text, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.”
The touching simplicity of the second movement recalls the pastoral song of David, the young shepherd. The sopranos take over the melody from the soloist, and carry it forward in gentle but strict imitation. Suddenly, threatening music is hurled forth by the men’s voices punctuated by slashing chords from the orchestra. They challenge the serene strains of peace with the harsh question, “Why do the nations rage?” The quiet song, temporarily banished, reappears in the high voices, like calming oil on troubled waters. The hard tones subside, and once again the shepherd sings and strums upon his harp. As a coda, the mechanistic sounds of conflict, soft but worrisome, enter once again, as if blown on an ill wind from some distant land.
The finale begins with an instrumental prelude based on the stern chorale that opened the work. The muted solo trumpet and harp recall a phrase from the shepherd’s song to mark the central point of this introductory strain. The chorus intones a gently swaying theme on the text, “Lord, Lord, My heart is not haughty.” The Chichester Psalms concludes with yet another adaptation of the recurring chorale, here given new words and a deeper meaning. This closing sentiment is not only the central message of the work and the linchpin of its composer’s philosophy of life, but also is a thought that all should hold dear in these troubled times:
Behold how good,
And how pleasant it is,
For brethren to dwell
Together in unity.
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.
Three-time Grammy® winner for Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Recording, and Best Opera Performance, Duain Wolfe is Founder and Director of the Colorado Symphony Chorus and Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus.
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.
Three-time Grammy® winner for Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Recording, and Best Opera Performance, Duain Wolfe is Founder and Director of the Colorado Symphony Chorus and Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. This year marks Wolfe’s 37th season with the Colorado Symphony Chorus. The Chorus has been featured at the Aspen Music Festival for over two decades. Wolfe, who is in his 28th season with the Chicago Symphony Chorus has collaborated with Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti, and Sir George Solti on numerous recordings including Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, which won the 1998 Grammy® for Best Opera Recording. Wolfe’s extensive musical accomplishments have resulted in numerous awards, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Denver, the Bonfils Stanton Award in the Arts and Humanities, the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline, and the Michael Korn Award for the Development of the Professional Choral Art. Wolfe is Founder of the Colorado Children’s Chorale, from which he retired in 1999 after 25 years. For 20 years, Wolfe also worked with the Central City Opera Festival as chorus director and conductor, founding and directing the company’s young artist residence program, as well as its education and outreach programs. Wolfe’s other accomplishments include directing and preparing choruses for Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, the Bravo! Vail Festival, the Berkshire Choral Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He has worked with Pinchas Zuckerman and Alexander Shelly as Chorus Director for the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra for the past 20 years.
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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 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).