In 1987, founding executive director John Giovando and founding artistic director Ida Kavafian established Bravo! Vail as public 501 (c) 3 Colorado non-profit corporation. Since then, Bravo! Vail has evolved from a small three-concert chamber music series to an international music festival with dozens of performances throughout the Vail valley, and summer home to the world's greatest musicians and orchestras. Bravo! Vail has proven to be an economic driver in Vail while enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
The first orchestras to be added to Bravo! Vail's music series were the National Repertory Orchestra and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1989,the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra brought national recognition to Bravo! Vail with a summer residency that lasted for 19 years. In 1995, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra joined what would eventually become an international roster of orchestras.
Eugenia Zukerman joined Bravo! Vail as artistic director in 1998. The following year, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra was added to the orchestral line-up. With a clear vision to become the most renowned orchestral festival in the country, Bravo! Vail celebrated the arrival of the New York Philharmonic in 2003 and The Philadelphia Orchestra four years later which solidified the current festival format of top-tier resident orchestras interwoven with a world class chamber music series.
In 2011, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott became the third artistic director in Bravo! Vail's history. Ms. McDermott brings fresh perspective and a return to Bravo! Vail's chamber music roots, working tirelessly to assemble exceptional music-making that includes an eclectic combination of classical favorites and new works, a great deal of fun, and an environment that is inclusive, friendly and accessible to all audiences.
London's acclaimed Academy of St Martin in the Fields, led by virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, was added to the orchestral roster in 2016, making Bravo! Vail a four-orchestra festival. The Academy was both the first international and the first chamber orchestra residency in Bravo's history. In 2019, Chamber Orchestra of Vienna - Berlin opened the Bravo! Vail season in their North American debut.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bravo! Vail's traditional season was cancelled. However, as conditions in Eagle County improved it became clear that many patrons were eager to return to live, in-person performances with a limited capacity and strong adherence to all health and safety guidance and precautions. As a result, the Bravo! Vail board and staff sprang into action to find new ways to fulfill Bravo's mission of enriching people's lives through the power of music. The result was a three-week long season featuring free outdoor concerts, free live streams, a mobile performance stage - the Bravo! Vail Music Box, and virtual Education and Engagement Programs.
In 2021, Bravo! Vail Music Festival produced a full season with residencies from Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, as well as The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Vail debut. Audiences heard new orchestra pieces by living composers like Valerie Coleman, Carlos Simon, and Bruce Adolphe. The Immersive Experiences Series showcased composer Béla Bartók's complete string quartets in concert with Escher Quartet, allowing those interested a rare immersion into the live of a great composer.
Through extraordinary performances, dedicated leadership, and generous support from the community, Bravo! Vail has grown from a handful of attendees to one of the world's premier music festivals. During the summer months, Bravo! Vail touches the lives of thousands of people, both residents and seasonal visitors who come to the area specifically to hear great music in the natural beauty of the majestic Rocky Mountains.