If eating outdoors elevates even the most mundane meal to something superlative, just imagine what a backdrop of Golden Peak and the Gore Range can do for a New York Philharmonic performance of Beethoven’s 5th. That promise is what’s kept the crowds coming—and growing—to one of the nation’s most bucket-listed classical music festivals for 31 summers. In addition to the main event—6 p.m. orchestral performances at Ford Amphitheater—a roster of ensembles staged in pavilions, brewpubs, private homes, and parks around the valley shouldn’t be missed, since they serve as the artistic inspiration of the festival itself. “Back when these pieces of music were written—Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart—they were generally premiered in smaller venues, and if the public liked the movement, they would scream ‘Bravo, bravo,’” explains Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott, a pianist who headlines many of the performances. “And then they’d play again, and people were drinking and hooting and hollering and getting into the music. Nothing makes me happier than honoring that tradition and turning people on to the music I’ve fallen in love with.”
When it is:
Through Aug 4
Where it is:
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail Village (and other venues)
What it costs:
$29–$159 (Ford Amphitheater orchestra performances)
Who goes there:
Anyone who can appreciate the experience of listening to orchestral music surrounded by nature and hale mountain folk, instead of a gussied-up audience in a stuffy concert hall
"I’ve had some very unique experiences on that stage. One time a couple of years ago, I was playing a Tchaikovsky concerto—it’s a very big piece of music and it’s dramatic and gorgeous—and it was raining a little bit. And through the course of the piece, the rain just kept getting heavier and heavier and it started to thunder and it was getting louder and louder, and the storm just kind of culminated when I finished the piece. So my hair was damp, my dress was damp, and that’s all part of what makes Bravo so unique! We’re out there in the middle of nature in the mountains, and stuff happens! Squirrels run across the stage, birds fly by, it’s fabulous—and it’s really magical.”– Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott
If you’re a classical music aficionado or a first-timer ...
The New York Philharmonic (July 17–24) at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, enjoyed with a flute of Champagne from the upscale concession stand (this is Vail, after all). Most locals forgo spendy ticketed seats under the canopy for the much cheaper—just $29—lawn seats. Arrive early to stake out your space, and bring a picnic, blanket, warm layer (to ward off post-sunset mountain chill), and a lawn chair (with legs no longer than four inches).
If you prefer classical paired with craft beer, rather than fine wine ...
Bravo! Vail’s After Dark Sunday night (at 8:30 p.m.) series brings serious classical talent (The Brass Project, July 21; father-son duo Edgar & George Meyer, July 28; violinist Yvonne Lam, August 4) to a favorite local venue (Vail’s Shakedown Bar) for a night of $10 music.
If you prefer your classical paired with fine wine, rather than craft beer ...
At Bravo! Vail’s Classically Uncorked series, Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott plays with a string ensemble while chef Brian Farquharson of Red Canyon Catering plates multiple courses paired with selections from California’s Meiomi Wines at West Vail’s Donovan Pavilion (July 30–Aug 1, 7:30 p.m.; $60).
If you sing to the key of free ...
Visiting musicians from the Brass Project, Verona Quartet, and Vail's Piano Fellows treat all comers to free hour-long interludes of chamber music (July 18, 23, 25, 27, 1 p.m., Vail Interfaith Chapel, Vail Village; July 18, 23, 25, 1 p.m., Edwards Interfaith Chapel, Edwards; July 27, 6 p.m., Golden Eagle Senior Center, Eagle; July 25, 11 a.m.).
If you want to classically school a kid who won’t stand for [or sit through] listening to an entire symphony ...
Bravo! Vail’s free Little Listeners at the Library series introduces little ones to the likes of Mozart, and also includes an instrument petting zoo, where they can play with everything from an oboe to a French horn (July 18, 25, 2 p.m., Eagle Public Library).
This season’s hottest ticket for families?
A night of legendary movie music at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with the New York Philharmonic providing the performance (July 18, 6:00 p.m., lawn seats: $5 kids, $29 adults).