2017 marks the 30th anniversary of both the Bravo! festival and its home, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. Unless, like me, you grew up in Vail during the 80s, you might not remember a time before Vail was a destination for summertime adventure – hiking, mountain biking, lacrosse, the GoPro Games, and even an Oktoberfest now in September. But before Bravo! brought its classical music performances to our little mountain town, the brilliance of the Vail Valley during the warmer months was a locals’ secret.
What started as a small chamber music concert series has grown into an international music festival hosting four world-class orchestras this year: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic. There’s no doubt that the Bravo! Vail Music Festival lives up to its slogan, “the sound of the extraordinary.”
Last year, my family and I experienced the rare treat of seeing London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, led by virtuoso violinist and music director Joshua Bell. This year it was solo pianist Yefim Bronfman playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Bronfman is widely regarded as one of the best pianists in the world today, and he played all of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 without sheet music. It brought Anne, my wife, to tears. And although there were no actual live canons in the amphitheater, the 1812 Overture was a lively way to end a hot July concert.
If you visit Vail in the summertime and enjoy classical music, treat yourself to a Bravo! concert. You’ll also have the pleasure of spending a warm summer evening at the beautiful Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, where you can bring a picnic and settle down on the grassy lawn or enjoy a glass of wine under the awning closer to the stage. Either way, it will be a night to remember.