The Vail Series

Upcoming Events

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

We simply can’t wait to welcome you back to the Vail Series in 2021/2022! In August, we will announce the artists appearing in the coming year. Over the course of the past four decades, it has been our privilege to bring world-class artists and ensembles to our community. We have enjoyed artists who are “household names,” and equally as exciting, Vail Series patrons have discovered rising stars – many of whom have gone on to exceptional careers. Along the way we have explored a variety of musical genres from all corners of the globe. With a variety of well-known and emerging artists and a mix of musical styles and origins the Vail Series is refreshing and enduring and personal.

Our 2020/2021 series went virtual and had its impact in that format, but there is nothing like having a live, in person, common shared experience with other members of the Denison community. Artists we met virtually last year will hopefully be on campus this fall, ready to visit classes, provide master classes, offer their perspective on the creative process, and in general share their artistry with us. Yes, it was wonderful having Aoife O’Donovan record a concert – just her and her guitar in her backyard - specifically for Denison. But having her in Swasey Chapel will be amazing.

And the Vail Series really is much more than a series of concerts by world-class artists. It’s seeing Béla Fleck or Yo-Yo Ma or Ladysmith Black Mambazo or the Czech National Symphony Orchestra featuring Isabel Leonard of the New York Metropolitan Opera. 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. The Vail Series joins in bringing the contemporary classical 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. In other words, it’s personal. Even the Vail Series’ primary venue — Swasey Chapel — is known for its intimacy. There’s no need to hang around stage doors to meet performers when they come to Denison; they’re right there, up close and totally accessible.

And 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.

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 through her retirement in June of 2013. Michael Morris is currently the Director of the Vail Series.

Since 1979, more than 100 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.

Like we said earlier…it’s personal.

Get In Touch

View our YouTube Channel See us on Instagram

Series Archives

2020 - 2021

The Vail Series, in partnership with Music Institute of Chicago, present a Livestream Third Coast Percussion Concert (142210)

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

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (142209)

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

Vail Series Presents A Virtual Experience with American Spiritual Ensemble 'The Power of Spirituals' (140447)

The Vail Series welcomes the American Spiritual Ensemble.

Vail Series presents Aoife O’Donovan (136370)

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

2019 - 2020

Vail Series welcomes Roomful of Teeth (131181)

The Vail Series welcomes Grammy award winners Roomful of Teeth.

Vail Series and TUTTI 2020 welcome SYBARITE5  (131179)

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

Vail Series presents Brasil Guitar Duo with JIJI (131168)

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

Vail Series presents Brasil Guitar Duo with JIJI (131167)

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

A Vail+ Event: Denison Symphony Orchestra with Matt Haimovitz present 'A Moveable Feast'  (131155)

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

Vail+ Event - Cellist Matt Haimovitz 'Bach's Lunch' (134017)

Bring your lunch and enjoy Cellist Matt Haimovitz and his brilliant musical variation on the concept of ”A Moveable Feast."

Vail+ Event - Cellist Matt Haimovitz 'Pop Up Concert' (134016)

Cellist Matt Haimovitz presents his brilliant musical variation on the concept of ”A Moveable Feast" during a pop up concert.

Vail+ Event - Cellist Matt Haimovitz 'Lunchtime Listening in the Library Atrium' (134015)

Bring your lunch to the library and listen to Cellist Matt Haimovitz perform his brilliant musical variation on the concept of ”A Moveable Feast."

Vail+ Event - Cellist Matt Haimovitz 'Morning Coffee Break with Music 101' (134014)

Cellist Matt Haimovitz presents his brilliant musical variation on the concept of ”A Moveable Feast" during a morning coffee break.

Vail Series presents Baker + Tarpaga Dance Project 'When Birds Refused to Fly' (131154)

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

Vail Series presents Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer with Rakesh Chaurasia (131151)

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

2018 - 2019

Denison Vail Series Presents The River: ETHEL + Robert Mirabal (125909)

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

Composition and Improvisation: ‘Philosophers and Musicians in Dialogue' (129806)

The TUTTI festival, Titus-Hepp Lecture Series and Vail Series present Composition and Improvisation.

Vail Series Presents 100 Years of Leonard Bernstein (103754)

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

Vail Series presents: Dee Dee Bridgewater (103755)

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

Vail Series presents Pablo Ziegler '12 Hours – Argentina Meets Japan' (103756)

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

2017 - 2018

The Vail Series presents Eighth Blackbird (97344)

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

Recent Grammy-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, courtesy of Vail Series (97345)

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

The Vail Series presents Catherine Russell (97331)

The Vail Series presents Catherine Russell in concert.

The Vail Series presents Eroica Trio (97330)

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

2016 - 2017

Bluegrass legend Sam Bush – SOLD OUT (67813)

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

NOW Ensemble in concert (102810)

The Department of Music welcomes NOW Ensemble in concert.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis – SOLD OUT (67817)

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

Gabriel Alegría and the Afro-Peruvian Sextet (67820)

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

2015 - 2016

The Vail Series: ETHEL’s ‘Documerica’ (64683)

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

The Vail Series presents Cyrille Aimée (64684)

The Vail Series presents Cyrille Aimée.

The Vail Series presents: Regina Carter's "Southern Comfort" concert (47440)

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

Vail Series presents: The Metropolitan Opera Rising Stars (47412)

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 (47411)

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

2014 - 2015

Sweet Honey in the Rock (38340)

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

"Turtle Island Quartet" (38260)

The Vail Series presents "Turtle Island Quartet."

Poet Laureate Billy Collins (38228)

The Vail Series presents Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

The Ahn Trio (38067)

The Vail Series presents "The Ahn Trio."

Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer in concert (37993)

The Vail Series presents Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer.

2013 - 2014

Bobby McFerrin Concert (38863)

The Vail Series presents the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin.

Bobby McFerrin (38861)

The Vail Series presents the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin.

Julian Lage Trio (38650)

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

Sphinx Virtuosi (38540)

The Vail Series presents 'Sphinx Virtuosi.'

Stunning strings (38469)

The Vail Series presents string quartet 'Ethel'

2012 - 2013

Jessye Norman, Soprano

Keith Lockhart & The Bbc Concert Orchestra

Chucho Valdez Quintet

A Far Cry with Matt Haimovitz, Cellist

2011 - 2012

The Knights

Dada Masilo

Munich Symphony Orchestra & Gloriae Dei Cantores