Classical Music

Utah Opera wraps season with an exuberant “Pirates of Penzance” – May 09, 2022

Craig Irvin (center) as the Pirate King in Utah Opera’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Photo: Douglas Carter

Utah Opera’s current season—its first live operas since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago—started with a comedy and is ending with a comedy.

Like its zany production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville last September, Utah Opera’s clever, exuberant staging of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, which opened Saturday, filled a communal need to laugh in troubled times. The … Read More

Jensen tamps down Utah Symphony sound in rich Russian program – Apr 30, 2022

Eivind Gullberg Jensen conducted the Utah Symphony in music of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

In a season filled with new works that challenged the audience—including three pieces from composer- in-association Arlene Sierra —Friday’s Utah Symphony program consisting solely of music by Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky seemed bracingly retro.

While the orchestra does “play the hits”, most concerts this season have included a 20th or 21st century piece—like Ginastera’s serialist Violin Concerto, which Hilary Hahn performed earlier this … Read More

Sierra’s “Bird Symphony” soars in a rich Utah Symphony program – Apr 16, 2022

Composer Arlene Sierra acknowledges applause from the Abravanel Hall audience following the world premiere of her Bird Symphony performed by Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony Friday night. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

World premieres of orchestral works are sometimes fraught with mishap, and worse, indifference. Where a new piece is tucked away between Beethoven and Shostakovich, it is sometimes under-rehearsed, misinterpreted, or under-appreciated by an audience. 

Fortunately, in Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony, Arlene Sierra—the orchestra’s composer-in-association—had the privilege of premiering her Bird Symphony … Read More

Sierra’s avian world premiere to take flight with Utah Symphony – Apr 13, 2022

The world premiere of Arlene Sierra’s Bird Symphony will be performed by the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Ian Phillips-McLaren

This season the Utah Symphony seems to be encouraging audience members to leave the house and enjoy the great outdoors. 

Recent programs included Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony (No. 6), Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and The Maze, a new violin concerto by Nathan Lincoln de Cusatis inspired by Canyonlands National Park. The Symphony will even perform Oliver Messiaen’s Utah-inspired … Read More

Muñoz at his best in Beethoven with Utah Symphony – Mar 27, 2022

Tiro Muñoz conducted the Utah Symphony Saturday night at Abravanel Hall.

For many of this season’s Utah Symphony guest conductors, the concert serves as an informal audition to replace Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer when he leaves next year. If Tito Muñoz – whose regular job is the same post with the Phoenix Symphony – is interested, his transcendent interpretation of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pastorale”) Saturday night should earn him a second look.

The Queens, New York native began the concert with … Read More

A Brazilian gem and Swedish phenom strike sparks with Fischer, Utah Symphony – Feb 20, 2022

Daniel Lozakovich performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Thierry Fischer leading the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer is on a roll. Perhaps the five months he spent apart from the symphony during the first half of this season gave both parties the chance to grow and appreciate one another more. Or maybe it’s just the programming. Whatever the reason, Fischer’s three concerts since his return have been among the best of his 12-year tenure.

… Read More

Yang’s Liszt thrills and Fischer’s Ravel sways with Utah Symphony – Feb 05, 2022

Joyce Yang performed Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: KT KIm

With a program including John Adams, Liszt, and a quirky collection of Ravel pieces, Thierry Fischer’s second concert with the symphony after his five-month absence displayed the eclectic programing that has marked his 12 years as music director.  

The evening led off with Adams’ Slonimsky’s Earbox. Written in 1995, this tribute to the Russian-born musician and scholar Nicolas Slominsky is … Read More

Fischer finally returns and Utah Symphony responds with gleaming performances – Jan 29, 2022

Thierry Fischer led his first Utah Symphony concert of the season Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Mike Lund

After a string of guest conductors spanning the first five months of the 2021-2022 season, the Utah Symphony once again performed under the baton of its music director Thierry Fischer Friday night. The program showcased his strengths as a conductor and featured a new violin concerto written specifically for concertmaster Madeline Adkins. 

On Friday night, that new work, The Maze was sandwiched between Honegger’s Symphony … Read More

Dove’s “Flight” explores human relations in soaring Utah Opera debut – Jan 17, 2022

Utah Opera’s production of Jonathan Dove’s Flight runs through January 23. Photo: Utah Opera.

When performing an opera set in an airport, it’s a cute idea to have uniformed flight attendants take the stage to make the “Turn off your cell phones” announcement.  

At Utah Opera’s first-rate opening night performance of Flight at the Capitol Theatre, the introduction made the audience members feel like fellow travelers on what would prove to be a delightful and poignant journey. Less welcome was the next announcement: that … Read More

Grosvenor brings freshness, depth to Grieg in Utah Symphony debut – Jan 08, 2022

Benjamin Grosvenor performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Robert Trevino conducting the Utah Symphony Orchestra Friday night. Photo: Kathleen Sykes

Once in a great while a musician will play an old warhorse with such nuance and freshness that one is reminded of all the reasons it became a concert mainstay. 

Such was the case with Benjamin Grosvenor’s performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto Friday night with the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall.  Under the baton of Robert Trevino, who, like Grosvenor, was making his Utah Symphony … Read More