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My Summer in Paradise: Interning with the Bravo! Vail Music Festival

by Rose Gear Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wind buffets the tall slender Aspen trees, upsetting their circular leaves to produce a percussive hiss. Lush green mountains loom on all sides, speckled with patches of dirty-white snow like scars from a long-forgotten illness commonly known as winter. Strains of Barber's Violin Concerto burst achingly from the violinist's fingers, mirroring the surrounding natural beauty.

This is Bravo! Vail Music Festival in Vail, Colorado, where I am serving as an operations/education intern. Featuring performances by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, the festival blends idyllic vistas with sublime sounds.

This summer I am privileged to work alongside the Bravo! Vail staff, production crew, and fellow interns (including 2014 Bolz center graduate John Jungerberg) to bring about this massive, world-class festival. Since I’m interning in both the Operations and Education departments, there is plenty of variety to the tasks I undertake on a daily basis. On the Operations end of the spectrum, I provide hospitality and assistance to artists, craft program inserts and signage, and help with logistical concerns such as lodging and transportation. In the Education department, I write age-appropriate lesson plans, staff free and educational events, and create and administer surveys at these events. But, at the risk of sounding like an entry-level customer-service training video, my central focus is creating a good festival experience for everyone involved.

I've performed as a classical bassist for several years, so I've spent a fair amount of time gallivanting from concert halls to churches to outdoor venues with various orchestras and chamber groups. While eking out a living as a freelance performer, I quickly gathered that some ensembles are much better managed than others. As a musician I am obsessed with the musical product I create, but I also care about the other elements of the performer's experience—did I enjoy playing? Were logistical concerns accounted for? Were my concerns addressed by staff? So the question I ask myself this summer is this: How do I create a good experience for musicians (and other festival stakeholders) while signaling that the festival is well-managed (which it is)? 

At Bravo! Vail music festival, I aim to leverage the perspective I gained while working as a musician toward creating the best possible experience—not only for audience members but for board members, musicians, orchestra staff, and the production crew. I interface with all of these groups on a regular basis, and my goal is for these interactions to be seamless and unambiguously positive.

Meanwhile, I'm also having fun hiking, running, and geeking out over some of my favorite classical music. What could be better?