Full Name
The Vail Series

Upcoming Events

Image for
Swasey Chapel
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Denison University
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

Sure, it’s a new season of highly diverse concerts, performed by world-class musicians. But the Vail Series is so much more.

It’s seeing Béla Fleck or Yo-Yo Ma on a small stage, six feet away from your front row seat, knowing he’ll be spending enough time here to interact with students and answer a question if you have one. The Vail Series joins in bringing the contemporary classical quartet ETHEL to campus four weeks a year as Denison’s ensemble-in-residence. ETHEL takes 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’ 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 artists have found their way to Swasey Chapel’s stage, 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 students groups over the two night engagement. Yo-Yo Ma and Yuja Wang have each been to Denison five times. They’re kind of like family.


Series Archives

2017 - 2018

 | 97344

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

 | 97345

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

 | 97331

The Vail Series presents Catherine Russell in concert.

 | 97330

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

2016 - 2017

 | 67817

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

 | 67820

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

2015 - 2016

 | 64683

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

ETHEL's Documerica

 | 64684

The Vail Series presents Cyrille Aimée.

 | 47440

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

 | 47412

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

 | 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

 | 38340

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

 | 40383

ETHEL and Robert Mirabal, a Native American flutist and vocalist, present an open rehearsal for a work in progress.

Turtle Island Quartet

 | 38228

The Vail Series presents Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

The Vail Series presents "Turtle Island Quartet."

 | 38067

The Vail Series presents "The Ahn Trio."

 | 37993

The Vail Series presents Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer.

2013 - 2014

 | 38863

The Vail Series presents the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin.

 | 38861

The Vail Series presents the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin.

 | 38650

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

The Vail Series presents 'Sphinx Virtuosi.'

 | 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

Yuja Wang

2010 - 2011

Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer & Zakir Hussain

New Century Chamber Orchestra

Pacifica Quartet with Menahem Pressler

Mark O'Connor & Dailey & Vincent

2009 - 2010

Yuja Wang with Russian National Orchestra

Imani Winds with Stefon Harris

"From The Top"


2008 - 2009

Renee Fleming

Brooklyn Rider

Sphinx Chamber Orchestra

Capoeira Angola

2007 - 2008

Yuja Wang & Friends

Yo-Yo Ma & Friends

Chicago Children'S Choir

Natalie Macmaster

2006 - 2007

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet & Luciana Souza