The Vail Series

Here are just a few notable speakers from past years:
  • Itzhak Perlman
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Renée Fleming
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Jessye Norman
  • Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer

About the Series

The Vail Series Brings the World to Denison!

After a couple of challenging years, we are thrilled to welcome you to Denison’s campus and bring the world on stage of The Vail Series’ 44th Season. The arts have the power to bring people together, to heal, to soothe, to revive, and to celebrate the world around us. The Vail Series proudly presents a season that brings the world to Granville and are thrilled to have you join us in beautiful Swasey Chapel and our newest state-of-the-art performance venue, the Sharon Martin Hall in the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts, as we welcome world-renowned artists and rising stars to Granville.

The Vail Series really is much more than a series of concerts by world-class artists. It’s seeing Yo-Yo Ma or Bobby McFerrin or Yuja Wang or Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. You’ll see them on a small stage, six feet away from your front-row seat, knowing they’ll be spending enough time here to interact with students personally and answer a question if you have one.

What better way to kick off the 2022/2023 season than to celebrate one of the earliest ways we all encountered music: as a vital component to the world of animation? The Queen’s Cartoonists, performing classical and jazz music to cartoons, will give you the opportunity to relive your childhood and will remind all that cartoons are for the young and the young at heart.

One of the greatest artists of our generation, Turkish pianist and composer, Fazil Say, performs with rising star, Turkish cellist Jamal Aliyev, in a limited US tour that will dazzle you with their artistry in a night to remember.

The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, in an international tour that brings them to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as well as Lincoln Center in New York City, also includes Denison University. Under the baton of Principal Conductor Theodore Kuchar, the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine will remind us of how small the world is now, and how music can bridge cultures and bring people together.

For two nights in March, Legendary trumpeter Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective, Turtle Island Quartet & Andrew F. Scott celebrates the work of photojournalist, filmmaker, writer, and musician Gordon Parks in a multimedia concert that fuses the arts in Sharon Martin Hall.

Wrapping up the 2022-2023 season, we are proud to present from our friends out west, the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour. With the all-star line-up of Dee Dee Bridgewater (who gave us a remarkable performance in 2018), Kurt Elling, Lakecia Benjamin, Christian Sands, Yasushi Nakamura, and Clarence Penn, Swasey Chapel will reverberate with energy that will carry us for the rest of the year.

The arts are such an essential element of a liberal arts education at Denison that Vail Series tickets are free for students, faculty and staff.

In addition, The Vail Series joins in bringing the contemporary classical Grammy®-winning string quartet ETHEL, who have been awarded honorary degrees for their impact at Denison, and Grammy®-winning Third Coast Percussion to campus, each for two full weeks a year as Denison’s ensembles-in-residence. They take the arts from the performance stage to classrooms. They play in a variety of surprising locations across campus, and often just grab lunch and chat with students in the student union.

So join us - it’s time to hear live music again!

Yours in the arts,


The Vail Series was endowed by a generous gift from the late Mary and Foster McGaw in honor of Jeanne Vail, class of 1946. Just as it was intended to do, the Series enriches the artistic experience of the entire Denison community. Programmed creatively with the mindful pursuit of learning across traditional academic boundaries, the Vail Series was directed by Lorraine Wales from its inception in 1979-2013 and by Michael Morris from 2013-2019. Ching-chu Hu is currently the Director of the Vail Series.

Since 1979, more than 200 individual Vail Series artists have found their way to Denison’s classrooms and stages, but that doesn’t include the dozens of ensembles or full symphony orchestras that have played here over the years. And some stay for a while. Last time he was here, Bobby McFerrin presented two concerts, performing with ten student groups over the two-night engagement. Many artists arrive on campus days ahead of their concert to visit classes and student groups.

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Series Archives

2022 - 2023

Ukraine Orchestra

The Vail Series welcomes Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine.

Fazil Say and Jamal Aliyev

The Vail Series welcomes Fazıl Say and Jamal Aliyev.

The Queen’s Cartoonists

The Vail Series welcomes The Queen’s Cartoonists.

2021 - 2022

Roomful of Teeth

The Vail Series welcomes multi-Grammy Award-winning vocal octet Roomful of Teeth.

Red Sky

Denison University’s Dance Department, Laura C. Harris Series and Vail Series presents Red Sky Performance.

Fifth House Ensemble

The Department of Music presents the TUTTI Festival Concert X: "We Are Good" presented by the Vail Series.

American Spiritual Ensemble

The Vail Series presents American Spiritual Ensemble.


"BLACKBIRD, FLY" A Concert for Voice, Body and Strings: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Spoken Word. Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Violin, Piano.

Aoife O'Donovan

The Vail Series welcomes Grammy Award-winning artist Aoife O’Donovan.

2020 - 2021

Third Coast Percussion

The Vail Series is partnering with Music Institute of Chicago to bring you a Livestream performance with Third Coast Percussion.


The Vail Series presents a co-sponsored livestream event, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

American Spiritual Ensemble

The Vail Series welcomes the American Spiritual Ensemble.

Aoife O’Donovan

The Vail Series welcomes Aoife O’Donovan presenting a virtual concert.

2019 - 2020

Roomful of Teeth

The Vail Series welcomes Grammy award winners Roomful of Teeth.


The Vail Series and TUTTI 2020 partner to present SYBARITE5 in a grand finale concert.

Brasil Guitar Duo with JIJI

The Vail Series welcomes Brasil Guitar Duo with JIJI presenting an evening of classical guitar music.

Brasil Guitar Duo with JIJI

The Vail Series welcomes Brasil Guitar Duo with JIJI presenting an evening of classical guitar music.

Matt Haimovitz

The Vail Series welcomes acclaimed cellist Matt Haimovitz and his brilliant musical variation on the concept of "A Moveable Feast."

Tarpaga Dance

The Vail Series presents Baker + Tarpaga Dance Project "When Birds Refused to Fly," winner of a National Dance Project Award.

Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer with Rakesh Chaurasia

The Vail Series welcomes Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer with Rakesh Chaurasia.

2018 - 2019


The Vail Series presents ensemble-in-residence ETHEL in concert.

Isabel Leonard

100 Years of Leonard Bernstein- The Czech National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of John Mauceri featuring soloist Isabel Leonard

Dee Dee Bridgewater

The Vail Series presents Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater in concert.

Pablo Ziegler

The Vail Series welcomes GRAMMY-winning pianist, composer and arranger Pablo Ziegler presenting a U.S. premiere performance titled "12 Hours."

2017 - 2018

Photo of contemporary classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird in concert

The Vail Series presents contemporary classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird in concert.

Photo of South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The Vail Series presents Grammy-winning South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo in concert.

Photo of Catherine Russell

The Vail Series presents Catherine Russell in concert.

Photo of the Grammy nominated chamber music ensemble Eroica Trio

The Vail Series presents the chamber music ensemble Eroica Trio in concert.

2016 - 2017

Photo of Sam Bush

The Vail Series welcomes Sam Bush performing at the 2017 Bluegrass Concert.

Photo of NOW Ensemble

The Department of Music welcomes NOW Ensemble in concert.

Photo of Wynton Marsalis and vocalist Catherine Russell

The Vail Series welcomes the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performing "Big Band Holidays."

Image of Gabriel Alegría and the Afro-Peruvian Sextet

The Vail Series presents Gabriel Alegría and the Afro-Peruvian Sextet.

2015 - 2016

Denison’s ensemble-in-residence, ETHEL

Denison’s ensemble-in-residence, ETHEL,, presents "Documerica," a multimedia concert.

Image of Cyrille Aimée

The Vail Series presents Cyrille Aimée.

Portrait of Regina Carter

The Vail Series welcomes genre-spanning violinist Regina Carter for her Southern Comfort Concert.

The Metropolitan Opera Rising Stars

Vail Series presents the Metropolitan Opera Rising Stars Concert, featuring the next generation of leading men and women at the renowned "Met."

Vail Series presents: Dafra Kura Band

The Vail Series welcomes the Dafra Kura Band, hailing from Burkina Faso and performing world music, traditional and contemporary sounds from Africa.

2014 - 2015

Photo of the quartet "Sweet Honey In The Rock."

The Vail Series presents "Sweet Honey In The Rock."

Turtle Island Quartet

The Vail Series presents "Turtle Island Quartet."

Billy Collins

The Vail Series presents Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

Photo of "The Ahn Trio"

The Vail Series presents "The Ahn Trio."

Photo of Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer

The Vail Series presents Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer.

2013 - 2014

Photo of Bobby McFerrin

The Vail Series presents the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin.

Photo of Bobby McFerrin

The Vail Series presents the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin.

Photo of Julian Lage with percussionist Tupac Mantilla and bass player Jorge Roeder

The Vail Series presents a concert by the Julian Lage Trio.

Sphinx Virtuosi

The Vail Series presents 'Sphinx Virtuosi.'

Ethel in studio

The Vail Series presents string quartet 'Ethel'

2012 - 2013

Jessye Norman, Soprano
Volcanic power, inspired performance, irresistible magnetism... According to the New York Times, Jessye Norman is one of those once-in-a-generation singers who are not simply following in the footsteps of others, but staking out her own niche in the history of singing. This is an amazing voice, a catalogue of all that is virtuous in singing. No matter what the style or repertoire”from classical music to new”the sound of Jessye Norman™s voice resonating in Swasey Chapel might just cause the supporting beams to tremble.
Keith Lockhart & The Bbc Concert Orchestra
Famous for their legendary versatility, the BBC Concert Orchestra players can turn their hands to classical jazz, film music and crossover. This allows for an appetite of music in any forum or venue, with the talent to back it up. Keith Lockhart took up the baton to become the BBC Concert Orchestra™s seventh principal conductor in August 2010. He joins the BBC team while continuing his successful work with the Boston Pops, where he has been conductor since 1995.
Chucho Valdez Quintet
The New York Times calls Cuban pianist Chucho Valdez' concerts such a controlled detonation of music that it kicks down your defenses. They refer to him as a pianist of imperial command. In fact, most critics seem to be surprised that after a lifelong career, he still surprises them. Hailed as one of the world™s great virtuosic pianists by the Times, eight-time Grammy Award winner Valdez has recorded more than 80 CDs, performing with countless jazz masters, including Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, and Chick Corea. Last here in 2002, this will be Valdez' second Vail appearance.