Classical Music

Female soloists and chorus provide the highlights in Utah Symphony’s “Messiah” – Nov 28, 2021

Conner Gray Covington conducted the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera Chorus in Handel’s Messiah Saturday night at Abravanel Hall.

After a year off due to the pandemic, the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah by the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera began with a reminder by conductor Conner Gray Covington that to avoid spreading Covid, this year’s performance would not be a “singalong” as it in years past. 

Judging by the smattering of scores in the hands of patrons—about a third of whom were masked—in … Read More

Bergmann leads Utah Symphony in powerful Nielsen – Nov 06, 2021

Rune Bergmann led the Utah Symphony in Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 “Inextinguishable” Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Danish composer Carl Nielsen “had a lot of frustrations” about the state of the world in 1916, Rune Bergmann told listeners upon taking the stage in Abravanel Hall Friday night. The Norwegian conductor reckoned the audience could relate, “coming out of a very difficult situation.”

Nielsen’s response was to celebrate the will to live in his Symphony No. 4, nicknamed “Inextinguishable,” and the … Read More

Mazzola makes a fiery Utah Symphony debut – Oct 23, 2021

Enrique Mazzola conducted the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Abravanel Hall was only about half full Friday night for Italian conductor Enrique Mazzola’s Utah Symphony debut. But those who did attend experienced a delightful evening featuring one of the orchestra’s most communicative and polished guest conductors in recent memory.  

The evening began with an expansive rendition of the Overture to Verdi’s La Forza del destino. Mazzola’s bio bills him as a specialist in early Verdi, but his interpretation … Read More

Conductor Enrique Mazzola is passionate about bringing classical music to new audiences – Oct 17, 2021

Enrique Mazzola conducts the Utah Symphony this weekend in music of Brahms, Verdi and Rota. Photo: Joe Mazza

For the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, conductor Enrique Mazzola was as frantic about the future as most of us.

“In March of last year,” he said, “when the cancellations started, of course, I had a feeling of frustration. After a couple of months, this sense of frustration became a reaction, a very beautiful artists’s reaction. We have to do something. We must react. We have to make music. Let’s make music. And from … Read More

Utah Opera returns with zany, colorful staging of Rossini’s “Barber” – Oct 11, 2021

Utah Opera’s production of Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” runs through October 17. Photo: Dana Sohm

A woman on stilts and a dream ballet featuring human-sized chickens were just two of the zany surprises welcoming Utah Opera’s audience Saturday night for its season-opening production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The extras also included naughty nuns, Napoleonic soldiers throwing confetti, and a recurring chicken and rooster motif that is never explained. 

Set designer Shoko Kamburra and costume designer Amanda Seymour created a colorful, carnival-esque world evoking … Read More

Li and Morlot bring serendipitous magic to Utah Symphony program – Sep 25, 2021

George Li performed Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Friday night with the Utah Symphony. Photo: Simon Fowler

A few bumps are inevitable on the Utah Symphony’s road back to normalcy. At last week’s opening program, illness led to two changes of conductors and a programming adjustment.

This week, Ludovic Morlot was on the podium replacing Thierry Fischer due to the music director’s recent hospitalization. Also George Li was the substitute pianist in place of Andrei Korobeinikov, who was sidelined by a pandemic-related visa delay.

… Read More

Hilary Hahn’s instinctual Brahms kicks off Utah Symphony season – Sep 20, 2021

Hilary Hahn performed Brahms’ Violin Concerto with Jahja Ling conducting the Utah Symphony’s season-opening weekend. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Johannes Brahms wrote his Violin Concerto for the celebrated Hungarian virtuoso Joseph Joachim, a friend and mentor who Brahms had admired ever since hearing him play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. The performance was so convincing, Brahms would later say, it sounded like Joachim had written the piece himself. 

The same compliment could describe violinist Hilary Hahn’s communicative rendition of the Brahms concerto Saturday night at a fully … Read More

Fischer closes Utah Symphony’s pandemic season with provocative eclecticism – May 28, 2021

Thierry Fischer conducted the Utah Symphony’s final program of the season Thursday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo; Marco Borggreve

Eclectic programming that juxtaposes works in a thought-provoking way has been a hallmark of Thierry Fischer’s tenure as music director of the Utah Symphony. 

The constraints of the pandemic have accentuated this gift. With shorter concerts, no intermissions, socially distanced musicians, and until recently, very few wind instruments, audiences have been exposed to pieces they might not have otherwise heard and have heard familiar pieces … Read More

Jolivet concerto and Beethoven make engaging partners with Utah Symphony – May 21, 2021

Soloist Demarre McGill exchanges a fist bump with Thierry Fischer before the Utah Symphony performance of Jolivet’s Suite en concert Thursday night at Abravanel Hall.
Photo: Kathleen Sykes

In a welcome sign the pandemic may be coming to an end, the Utah Symphony’s program led by Thierry Fischer Thursday night included a Beethoven symphony. Since cautiously returning last fall, the orchestra has tried to observe recommended social distancing by featuring smaller ensembles of mostly strings, which can play masked. 

The sight of the Abravanel … Read More

Confused staging undoes Utah Opera’s downsized “Carmen” – May 10, 2021

Isaac Hurtado and Kirstin Chávez star in Utah Opera’s La tragédie de Carmen. Photo: Dana Sohn

Under the constraints of the pandemic, Utah Opera has done some exquisite work. Last October, when the social distancing protocols were most severe, the company presented Poulenc’s La voix humaine, which proved a riveting psychological drama and musical tour de force for soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer. That one-woman show was on a double bill with a delightful production of Joseph Horovitz’s light comedy Gentleman’s Island.

After slamming … Read More