The Vail Series
- Itzhak Perlman
- Yo-Yo Ma
- Renée Fleming
- Wynton Marsalis
- Jessye Norman
- Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer
We simply can’t wait to welcome you back to the Vail Series in 2021/2022! 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.