Utah Symphony to offer Beethoven, world premiere, and progressive Messiaen in 2019-20 season

Tue Feb 05, 2019 at 5:30 pm
By Edward Reichel

Olivier Messiaen in Bryce Canyon in 1971. All 12 sections of the French composer’s epic, Utah-inspired “Des canyons aux étoiles” will be performed throughout the Utah Symphony’s 2019-20 season.

The Utah Symphony announced its 80th season Tuesday night in a press conference at the Clark Planetarium.

The setting was symbolic because the orchestra and its music director Thierry Fischer will spotlight a work written in and about Utah in the 2019-20 season: Olivier Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles. What’s unusual about this performance is that Fischer will conduct individual movements of this 12-movement work throughout the season, intermingled with other short works or movements of works dealing with nature. Many of these pieces will be accompanied in concert by images projected on a giant screen behind the orchestra.

Besides the Messiaen, other nature-themed works this season will include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Respighi’s The Pines of Rome and the world premiere of The Maze, by American composer Nathan Lincoln de Cusatis. 

The Maze is inspired by a remote area of the same name in Canyonlands National Park. The violin concerto was commissioned by Utah Symphony concertmaster Madeline Adkins, who will premiere it on March 27, 2020.

The orchestra will also be celebrating two milestones in 2020: the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and the symphony’s 80th anniversary. Four concerts in 2020 will feature symphonies by the German master: The Seventh on February 21-22; the  Sixth on April 24-25; the ubiquitous Fifth on May 1-2 (with the composer’s Romance No. 1 played by violinist Augustin Hadelich); and the Third on the final weekend of the Masterworks season, May 22-23.

Beethoven will also be highlighted on the Utah Symphony’s 80th anniversary concert and gala on May 16, 2020. Violin superstar Joshua Bell returns to Salt Lake City to play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto for the occasion. The concert will be conducted by the symphony’s associate conductor Conner Gray Covington, making his Masterworks debut. The program also includes Smetana’s The Moldau and Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Emperor Waltzes, both of which were on the Utah Symphony’s first concert on May 8, 1940.

Andrew Norman, the symphony’s composer-in-association, will have several of his works played: Sacred Geometry on November 15; Spiral on January 31 and February 1, 2020; and Unstuck on March 6-7, 2020.

Following the success of the inaugural Unwound concert series this season, it’ll be back in the new season, on November 16, and March 28, 2020. The November program includes Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, while the program in March features Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Among guest conductors, the new season will mark the podium debuts of Fabien Gabel, Carlos Miguel Prieto and Aziz Shokhakimov, as well as the return of Bernard Labadie and Kazuki Yamada. 

Soloists debuting in 2019-20 include pianists Till Fellner and Boris Giltburg, and violinist Benjamin Beilman. Solo artists making return visits are pianists Nicholas Angelich, Kevin Cole and Joyce Yang, and violinists Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich and Viviane Hagner.

Besides concertmaster Adkins, Utah Symphony violinist Kathryn Eberle and violist Brant Bayless will also be in the spotlight. Eberle will play Edgar Meyer’s Violin Concerto, while Bayless will partner with Hagner in Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante.

Some of the works on tap next season are Holst’s The Planets; Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5; Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3; de Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos; Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring; Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie; Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2; and Dutilleux’s L’arbre des songes.

Subscriptions are now on sale. Go to utahsymphony.org.

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