THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA
Stéphane Denève, conductor
Juliette Kang, violin
WALKER Lyric for Strings
BARBER Violin Concerto, Op. 14
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Lyric for Strings, a gorgeous musical lament that opens the program, is both sorrow and balm. On a lighter note, the Symphony No. 8 finds Dvořák in a cheerful mood, inspired by his beloved Bohemian folk music with its hallmarks of simplicity, clarity, and brightly embroidered patterns.
WALKER: Lyric for Strings
Lyric for Strings (1946)
GEORGE WALKER (1922-2018)
George Walker became the first Black composer to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music when his Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra was so honored in 1996. As prestigious as this recognition was, one might observe dispassionately that it was simply another “first” to which Walker’s name would be attached in the history of American music. Born in Washington, D.C., to parents of West Indian extraction, he studied piano as a child, graduated from high school at the age of 14, and pursued his college education at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin (with highest honors, at the age of 18), he continued his education at the Curtis Institute, studying piano with Rudolf Serkin, chamber music with William Primrose and Gregor Piatigorsky, and composition with Rosario Scalero. With the receipt of Artist Diplomas in piano and in composition from Curtis in 1945, he became that school’s first African-American graduate. A decade later he enrolled in the Doctor of Musical Arts program at the Eastman School of Music, and in 1956 he became the first Black recipient of a doctoral degree from that school. In 1945, he made his piano debut at New York’s Town Hall, and two weeks later he was the soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra, garnering the honor of being the first Black instrumentalist to be heard in either of those forums. In 1946, he composed his First String Quartet, the slow movement of which incorporated the Lament for Strings he had originally written in memory of his departed grandmother; this movement would become his most famous orchestral work when he recast it as his Lyric for Strings. This elegiac piece maintains a deceptively simple posture, lodged in an emotional realm bounded by melancholy, hope, and consolation.
BARBER: Violin Concerto, Op. 14
Violin Concerto, Op. 14 (1939-40/1948)
SAMUEL BARBER (1910-81)
From 1939-42, Samuel Barber served as composition professor at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute, his alma mater. During those years he composed his Violin Concerto, which also involved a Curtis connection. Samuel Fels, of Fels Naptha soap fame, served on the school’s board, and in 1939 he offered Barber a $1000 commission to write a violin concerto for Iso Briselli, a Curtis violin student who had come from Odessa to enroll at Curtis at the age of twelve. (Fels eventually adopted Briselli, making him the heir to his substantial estate.) Barber worked on the piece that summer while staying in Switzerland and continued in Paris, where he hoped to complete the finale; but when World War II broke out, he returned to America to complete the piece.
This was not the only time a finale proved to be a bugbear for Barber. While he was writing his Violin Concerto, for example, he was also searching for the right way to end his String Quartet (Op. 10), the finale of which he would reinvent several times over the course of seven years. The finale of the Violin Concerto was in part problematic because Briselli and his violin coach expressed displeasure with it. After provisional read-throughs, including one by the violinist Oscar Shumsky, Barber showed his concerto to the eminent Albert Spalding, who was on the lookout for an American piece to add to his concerto repertoire. Spalding signed on instantly, and it was he who introduced the work, in 1941, with Eugene Ormandy conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra, following its extended gestation. (The revised version was introduced in 1949 by soloist Ruth Posselt, with Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony.) In truth, the finale does seem slight; after two gorgeous, slowish, generously scaled movements, it bustles away and is gone before you know it.
DVORÁK: Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 (1889)
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Except for the New World Symphony, Carnival, and the Slavonic Dances, Dvořák remained rather little played outside his native land until the mid-20th century. In the Czech Lands, however, he was lionized by the time he composed his Eighth Symphony, and in 1890 he dedicated it “for my installation as a member of the Czech Academy of the Emperor Franz Joseph for Sciences, Literature, and Arts,” which inducted him two months after the premiere.
Fritz Simrock, Dvořák’s long-time publisher, had paid 3000 marks for his Seventh Symphony in 1885. When the composer finished his Eighth Symphony, which occupied him during the late summer and fall of 1889, the firm offered him only 1000 marks. Large-scale works like symphonies were expensive to publish and hard to market, and Simrock was understandably more interested in acquiring smaller-scale pieces, like piano collections or songs. Nonetheless, Dvořák considered the offer a huge insult. Negotiations crept on for a year, and when they stalled at a price-point Dvořák deemed unsatisfactory, the famously pious composer dropped his publisher a note in mid-October 1890: “I shall simply do what beloved God tells me to do. That will surely be the best thing.”
What God apparently told Dvořák to do was to have the symphony published instead by the London firm of Novello, notwithstanding that doing so was a flagrant breach of his contract with Simrock—or at least so Simrock insisted. Eventually they reconciled and Dvořák returned to Simrock’s fold. The circumstances of the publication gave rise to the fact that dusty volumes occasionally refer to this symphony as the “English,” since it appeared on the imprint of a firm in London. It is a bizarrely inappropriate nickname for a work so audibly drenched in what, thanks in large part to Dvořák, we hear as incontrovertibly Czech.
Stéphane Denève is the Principal Guest Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Juliette Kang (violin), a native of Canada, was appointed first associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2005, having served as assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony and a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
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
Juliette Kang (violin), a native of Canada, was appointed first associate concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2005, having served as assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony and a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Solo engagements have included the San Francisco Symphony, l’Orchestre National de France, Baltimore Symphony, and the major Canadian orchestras. She was presented at Carnegie Hall in 1994 in a recital that was recorded and released on CD, and has recorded the Schumann and Wieniawski concertos with the Vancouver Symphony. She is member of the Clarosa Quartet.
World-renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman lends his legendary power to Beethoven’s dynamic Piano Concerto No. 3. Finally, the first symphony by a Black woman to be performed by a major American orchestra, Price’s First Symphony imbues classical forms with spirituals and West African rhythms and dance.
Seven O’Clock Shout is an urgent, heartfelt, COVID-era anthem to tireless frontline workers. Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott and Philadelphia’s magnetic music director take the stage together for the first time. Conscious of Beethoven’s shadow, it took Brahms over twenty years to release his first symphony into the world, an homage that was immediately hailed as “Beethoven’s 10th:” intensely personal, fiercely dramatic, filled with grand gestures.
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. Gates open 60 minutes prior to performances. GRFA 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 appropriate intervals.
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. We expect that bus capacity for each bus will be limited to 40 or fewer people. 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 instructions 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 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. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at Will Call.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00AM to 4:00PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater box office is open from 11:00AM until concert start time (5:00PM 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 GRFA amphitheater box office located to the right of the main entrance lobby. The box office is open 11:00AM to concert start time during the Festival.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Due to limited audience capacity this summer, we are not offering discounts for groups.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
While our standard policy is that tickets are non-refundable, we understand the necessity to be flexible in these unprecedented times. Should you need to change your plans to attend a concert this summer, we ask that you consider donating the value of your tickets to help support Bravo! Vail’s ongoing mission of enriching people’s lives through the power of music. If you prefer a refund rather than donating the value of your tickets, please contact the Box Office.
If we are forced to cancel an event in its entirety, you will have the option to donate the value of your tickets to help support Bravo’s mission, place the value of your tickets on account for future use, or receive a refund.
What can I expect in terms of health and safety protocols?
As permitted by current State of Colorado and Eagle County guidelines, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival is operating at up to 100 percent capacity, without any social distancing or mask requirements. If you are not comfortable with this approach, although we will miss your presence, we ask that you consider not attending at this time and enjoy the programs offered via live stream.
Face coverings at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater will be optional. All individuals, whether they choose to wear a face covering or not, will be welcomed and respected.
Capacity at performance venues will be at or near 100 percent with no social distancing requirements.
You may also refer to the GRFA policies here.
Will I be required to complete a waiver to attend concerts and events this summer?
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3:00PM 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. 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.
How can I learn more about the music?
This summer we will be offering each ticket holder household one complimentary copy of our printed program book. You will receive a ticket for your book when you receive your concert tickets. You may redeem your book ticket at any Bravo! Vail concert at the GRFA or Vilar Performing Arts Center to get your copy.
New this year, we are unveiling the Bravo! Vail app, which will allow you to access information contained in the printed program book right on your smartphone. More information on how to download the app will be forthcoming.
Finally, you can find information on each concert's program on our website at bravovail.org.
What should I bring to the concerts?
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 (4-inch legs), and umbrellas are permitted at concerts.
All bags are subject to search (please help us by packing your bag with this in mind).
No oversized bags will be allowed (for example: duffle bags, large backpacking bags, suitcases).
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?
As with the rest of the venue, pandemic protocols will be in place until they are no longer recommended/required by public health. Throughout the Festival season, the venue anticipates returning to a full concessions menu similar to years past. However, capacity limitations may mean that fewer point-of-sale locations are open, until such time that the venue returns to full capacity. We do expect that the touchless credit card payment option will remain in place.
Are lawn chairs available to rent?
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.
Any forms of audio or video recording (mobile phone, camera, video camera, iPad) are prohibited at these events.
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 email@example.com or 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9:00AM–4:00PM (and Sat–Sun 10:00AM-4:00PM during the Festival).
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