Classical Music

Utah Opera soars with Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman” – Oct 11, 2022

Michael Chioldi and Wendy Bryn Harmer star in The Flying Dutchman at Utah Opera. Photo: Dana Sohm

The Flying Dutchman is the one Wagner opera that can serve gracefully as a staple of regional opera companies.

That is partly due to its brevity. Dutchman clocks in at under three hours, which means it can be produced without paying overtime rates—a genuine issue with Wagner’s other works, most of which are over four hours long and require larger orchestras. 

The opera also gives audiences a taste … Read More

Conductor, violinist show versatility in Covid-revised Utah Symphony program – Sep 17, 2022

Alexandre Bloch conducted the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Marco Borggreve

The note on the Utah Symphony website stated ominously  “THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN ALTERED DUE TO COVID CASES AND EXPOSURE IN THE ORCHESTRA.” 

In fact, the orchestra’s planned program of challenging 20th and 21st century music was scrapped entirely for an evening of music from the Romantic Period. On Monday, symphony musicians sitting near colleagues who tested positive for Covid were told to stay home this week, and the … Read More

Critic Picks for the 2022-23 season – Sep 11, 2022

George Stevens Jr’s “Thurgood” opens at the Utah Shakespeare Festival September 14.

Thurgood. Utah Shakespeare Festival. September 14–October 8.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s interim artistic director, Derek Charles Livingston, plays the title role—as well as several supporting roles—in George Stevens Jr.’s one-actor drama depicting the life of legendary civil rights attorney and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Livingston joined the festival staff last year as director of new play development; this will be his Utah stage debut. (CRN)

Music of Tchaikovsky, Ives, Thomas … Read More

Horns to the fore as Fischer opens final season with Utah Symphony – Sep 10, 2022

Thierry Fischer conducted the Utah Symphony’s season-opening concert Friday night at Abravanel Hall.

The opener of Thierry Fischer’s final season as music director of the Utah Symphony displayed the Swiss maestro’s flair for eclectic programming as well as the full, expansive sound he has cultivated during his tenure with the orchestra.

The concert also showed the caliber of soloists the conductor routinely brings to the orchestra, with Stefan Dohr, the principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic, playing Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 and … Read More

Utah Symphony closes season with dramatic Beethoven and resplendent Ravel – May 28, 2022

Veronika Eberle performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Doug Carter

The Utah Symphony’s season closed as it opened, with an iconic German violin concerto. Back in September, the first concert of the season featured Hilary Hahn playing the Brahms, and Friday night, the last concert of the season featured Veronika Eberle performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto. 

In addition to the structural and aspirational similarities between the two pieces, they also share a … Read More

Utah Symphony shines with Sibelius and tunes up for a Messiaen field trip – May 21, 2022

Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer led excerpts from Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux etoiles Friday night at Abravanel Hall. Photo: Marco Borggreve

After drawing a near-capacity crowd for its last concert – Steven Osborne playing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto – the Utah Symphony returned Friday to a less than half-filled Abravanel Hall for a concerto-less program of Smetana, Messiaen and Sibelius. Still, the musicians didn’t seem to mind the empty seats, and they turned in a gem of a concert.

Opening … Read More

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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … Read More