2016/17 Season Crossword Contest Update

Hello clever crossword players! A few of you pointed out some typos in our crossword clues. We have uploaded a new PDF, if you’ve been working on this contest, please download the new document!

Thanks to all of our friends out there who brought up the typos! Enjoy the game and stay tuned for when we announce the winner!

The new PDF and the rules and regulations can be found at www.utahsymphony.org/contest.

Best of luck!

Pierre Boulez “Mémoriale”

Words from the principal librarian of the Utah Symphony, Clovis Lark, honoring the great Pierre Boulez.

I first met Pierre Boulez in 1976.  Although I had read of this man as being aloof, icy and difficult, I was immediately aware of someone quite different: warm, genuinely caring and always willing to lend his help when asked. In 1986, there was his offering of an IRCAM job to a computer programming friend of mine in need, who approached him after a concert of Répons in New York. Later, when I found myself without enough clout on my resume, he sent a handwritten letter of “to whom…” accompanied by another letter of apology for having allowed 3 weeks to pass before responding.  He loved hearing from old acquaintances, curious to know of their lives and quick to offer his hospitality should they be able to visit him, whether in Salzburg, Chicago or Cleveland. I have a note offering to show me around Lucerne and his Academy which, sadly, I was unable to accommodate. Similarly, he excitedly offered to show me all the antiquated stage machinery in Bayreuth, should I be there during his residency.  Whenever our paths crossed in Cleveland, New York or Chicago, he always carved out time to visit and share ideas.

While many aspects of Boulez’s life were quite private, his persona never appeared standoffish.  Rehearsals were always open, and he made himself readily available during breaks to both players and guests. The aura of austere detachment cultivated by critics and audiences in their observations of his concert demeanor, was contradicted by the good nature and respect for players exhibited in rehearsal where he was quick to break potential tension with a short quip.  At break he would stand at the podium until all players who might have questions had an opportunity to consult with him. Often, he was the last off the stage. Once in his dressing room, the topics could range as far as the appropriateness of “préservatif” commercials on French prime time news to discussions of minutiae in the next week’s program. And always his mind was alert and ready to discuss any piece of music, just as long as it wasn’t Shostakovich!

He took the ups and downs in life with good humor as well. Arrested in Basel as a terrorist to the outrage of his secretaries, he recounted the incident with humor and laughter. Similarly, when his tiny pen knife was confiscated in O’Hare, his annoyance was tinged with a twinkle in his eye as he imagined their shock when he returned and demanded it back (he never did get its return).  In Ojai, he and his valet, Hans, stood for several minutes watching a crow perched atop a portable toilet, talking animatedly. Hans said the discussion was a about a bird they had once seen at the seaside, taking clams in its beak and dropping them from on high to break the shells.

There was an aura, one he clearly cultivated for a time, of a lack of respect for the past.  But, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.  For Boulez, history was incredibly important.  It was tradition that he couldn’t stand.  He called it a “bad game of ‘Telephone’” where a past reality is progressively distorted through various incarnations until it is so mangled as to be unrecognizable.  But history was another matter.  After the composer Arnold Schoenberg died, Boulez notoriously wrote “Schoenberg is Dead.” While the essay clearly does not skimp on Boulez’s impatience for some of Schoenberg’s compositional habits, it is clearly written out of a deep respect for Schoenberg’s achievements which Boulez followed with a lifetime of beautifully crafted performances.  When UCLA decided to rename Schoenberg Hall for Moe Austin (honoring a large donation), Boulez was one of the first people I contacted to help in the successful fight to retain Schoenberg’s name.  He even retracted his article’s title when he was asked in New York after a presentation of Schoenberg’s Op. 29 Suite whether he thought “Schoenberg was still dead?”  “No. But he needs strong medicine!”

Where Boulez was clearly and authentically dismissive was with regard to the future, especially when asked about his legacy and what future music would be like.  He was resolute in letting others learn and perform his music without his interference.  Regarding the future, he mentioned futuristic picture postcards that were for sale in Paris around 1900.  In them, all the buildings had hot air balloons tethered to the roofs, as that was what people imagined the future would bring.  Nobody had any concept of something like an airplane!  The vision of the future was entirely based upon the present and past experience.

This is the Pierre Boulez I knew. He was a formidable composer, with a formidable firmness of mind, and also a formidable conductor, “out of necessity,” as he told me (circumstances forcing him to learn the trade to get Le Marteau sans maître performed). But without the character I knew, all that achievement would have been hollow.

Those who thought him icy, detached, needed only to look at his hands as he conducted. They were those of a poet, full of emotion.

Under Boulez’s direction:

Julie Edwards (Viola) played Prokofiev Scythian Suite with Chicago Civic Orchestra

Ron Beitel (French horn) played Stravinsky Le Sacre du Printemps with The Cleveland Orchestra

Jamie Allen (double bass) played Mahler Symphony No. 5 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

TRIO series: the Composer

I find myself organizing celebrations around music rather than the other way around. —Nico Muhly

Nico Mulhy began his musical career as a child growing up in Providence, Rhode Island. A self-proclaimed “alright pupil,” he played piano and sang in a boys choir in a church. It was around the age of eleven that everything clicked. “I loved music, and wanted to not just play and sing, but also write,” says Nico. Since that defining moment in his youth, Nico has dedicated his life’s work to creating music. His are sounds that are heard around the world, that have inspired others to continue listening, to become an active participant in the music. He celebrates life through music.

Nico Muhler

Photo credit: Steven Psano

The Julliard-trained composer spends so much of his life writing music, that he admits to throwing parties based around the completion of a composition. He has written music for friends’ weddings on several occasions.

“It feels negligent of me to allow anybody I know to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel, because we are all adults,” says Nico. For this reason, he makes it a point to write music that suits the occasion, and allows him as a composer to engage with his community more responsibly. He recalls two weddings in particular:

“Last summer, two friends got married on a small island in Iceland, and I wrote music for the assembled company. [There were] two keyboards, viola da gamba, [and] voices.  We crammed ourselves into a tiny corner of the chapel and rehearsed in a sweaty half an hour, and miniature ponies looked quizzically at us. Later that same summer, I wrote music for a wedding where the bride’s childhood friends and neighbors were to be included in the composition: one plays Celtic harp, and the other, a sort of bedazzled steampunk cornet.”

Nico vehemently believes in the power of music. “I think music has the ability to transform space, which is its amazing invisible power,” he says.  For him, the moments just before a rehearsal of a large orchestra are the most moving. These are the moments when each player is focused on what’s in front of them, or what’s in their head, or perhaps their own work. That moment exemplifies life experienced through music.

By Autumn Thatcher


You can also learn more about Nico Muhly’s World Premiere composition, commissioned by the Utah Symphony.

Mahler Memories: Frances Darger

francesDargerFrances Darger (violin, 1942-2012)

Patient Determination

Abravanel gradually, slowly built the whole thing up like you can’t believe. He got into the community, he bought a house, he moved here, he was here all the time except for the summer. If we’d go play in Southern Utah, he went with us to southern Utah. He took us everywhere. And he just gradually, gradually added more weeks, gradually raised the money. He had patient determination. And he was an interesting, wonderful man. And he got to know the community beautifully, knowing who all the movers and shakers were.

Porcelain Reverberations

One of my favorite stories from when we were recording in the tabernacle was when they ran the electrical stuff through the bathroom because they figured it would reverberate better. Well one day they said, “Ooh, we’ve got a problem.” “What happened there?” “Somebody flushed the toilet and fouled up the recording.” It was just fascinating. They got the reverberation from the tile, but they had to stop recording for a minute because somebody flushed the toilet.

Abravanel Hall

Abravanel never got to conduct in the hall, which was sad. But how he got that hall built—that’s still my favorite story. He went to Cyril Harris, and I think he was at New York University or Columbia—he was an acoustician—and he said, “Build us a hall for the symphony, opera, and ballet.” And he came back and said, “There’s no such thing as a perfect hall for the symphony, opera, and the ballet.” He said, “If you’ll look around your town and find an old theater, we’ll remodel it for the opera and the ballet, and we’ll build you a hall for the symphony.” And that’s what happened.

Handel’s Messiah Factoids

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner

George Frideric Handel

  1. George Frideric Handel was a superstar among composers of his time and composers of the future. Bach unsuccessfully tried to meet with Handel, but as fate would have it the two never met. What could have come from their meeting leads to speculation and desire to see two greats work together.
  2. The women attending the first production of Handel’s Messiah on April 13, 1742 pleaded to wear dresses with no hoops in order to accommodate more patrons.
  3. The first performance of Handel’s Messiah on April 13, 1742, brought with it an attraction other than Handel’s esteemed name and familiar importance. It also premiered Susannah Cibber, a contralto who was involved with a scandalous divorce.
  4. Mozart would be quoted as saying the following about Handel: “Handel understands effect better than any of us…when he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt.”  – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  5. In popular culture Handel’s Messiah is unmatched in its use. Nickelodeon’s popular satirical cartoon Ren & Stimpy heavily used Handel’s Messiah. The use of Handel’s Messiah is typically seen during a euphoric moment right before a devastating and unsettling moment of destruction.
  6. Genius is often closely associated with absolutely uncontrollable emotional tirades.  Colleagues and close friends all described his anger and insane outbursts, often assumed to be associated with his obsession with perfection and form.
  7. Handel once had a duel over seating. A rather simple argument over a seating arrangement in the orchestra pit led to a near fatal duel with fellow composer Johann Mattheson. Mattheson’s sword was thwarted by a metal button on Handel’s coat. Afterwards the two settled their differences and remained friends for years.

By Seeth McGavien


It’s time to kick off your holiday season with the Messiah Sing-In! The Utah Symphony Orchestra will be performing at Abravanel Hall on November 28. For more information and tickets, visit this page.

Mahler Memories: Craig Fineshriber

CraigFineshriberCraig Fineshriber (Principal Percussion and Librarian, 1971-1994; Principal Percussion, 1971-2011)

First Experiences

When you’re only sixteen, and Abravanel was conducting the orchestra, there are several things that happen. One of them is you are just scared to death. And secondly, you really do view him as a gigantic personage. Almost godlike. I had never had an encounter with a musician anywhere near his experience. I mean he was a protégé of Bruno Walter and Kurt Weill. He knew Otto Klemperer, and he knew Stravinsky. And that was amazing to a sixteen-year-old kid. I graduated from high school in ’64, and that fall I played my first concert with the Utah Symphony. And that’s when we recorded the Mahler Seventh—that fall. That was also my first experience with Mahler.

Peculiar Sounds of Mahler in the Percussion Section

Alma Mahler—his wife—said, “You’ve written a percussion concerto, not a symphony” because Mahler had all these weird instruments. He had cowbells, and he had big bells. As a matter of fact, Mahler uses huge bells in the finale of the Second Symphony, and he used to take them with him. He would have them shipped where he would go to guest conduct the Second Symphony because they were so important to him. Later on, when he started writing for cowbells, he would carry those around with him, too, because he was very specific about what he wanted in terms of that sound. And then there was the rute, which is a bundle of sticks you smack against the rim of the bass drum—that was a new effect. It’s a great sound. So, he came up with that. And then there are the huge hammer blows in the Sixth Symphony—three of them. And that, of course, was a scandal when he first premiered that sound effect. I’m currently reading a biography of Mahler in four volumes by French musicologist Henry-Louis de la Grange, and enjoy imagining those times.

Contrasts in Mahler’s Life and Music

Mahler was incredibly well read in philosophy, in science, and music history. That’s what he would do in his spare time, although he would set aside a little time each day to spend with his children. That’s one of the essentials about Mahler: there are stretches of folk song or what seem like children’s songs, and then he alternates that with incredible depth and profundity. In the early days, when reviewers started hearing Mahler symphonies, that’s one of the things they criticized him for. But by the Twentieth Century, that’s one of the things that made everybody say, “The man was a genius!” because that is more what living life is like. Every day you have experiences like that. You spend the morning playing with the kids, you know, playing “Life” or something like that with the kids, and then that afternoon you are immersing yourself in some heavy reading or you’re going to rehearsal, or something like that. It’s just back and forth like that.

Mahler Conducts

Mahler did reach the point in his career where he insisted on conducting the premieres of his works because he had a couple of occasions where someone else had conducted one of his symphonies and it fell flat on its face. So at that point he decided, “Okay, anytime there is a premiere, I have to go conduct it or you can’t can’t play it.”

Bruno Walter

Abravanel knew Bruno Walter. As a matter of fact, when Abravanel got the job here in 1947, he called Bruno Walter to tell him, “Hey, I got an orchestra. I got my own orchestra.” And Bruno Walter said, “Yeah, where is that?” And he said, “Well, it’s in Utah.” And Bruno Walter said, “What are you doing out there? You don’t want to be out there. You’re never going to make a name for yourself out there.”

The Clarinetist Who Will Remain Nameless

I think it was in the Mahler Fifth Symphony (and this happens in several of the Mahler symphonies) where certain wind or brass instruments were asked to raise their bells so that the sound will go out more. The German phrase is “Schalltrichter in die Höhe.” It would be stronger, it would be louder, it would be more strident. And in one case during the 5th, it was the clarinets who were supposed to do it. One of the clarinetists—who will remain nameless—refused to do it. The musicians often refuse to do it because they say, “Oh, if we do that we can’t read the music.” So the clarinetist refused to do it. We went through it a couple times and Abravanel noticed that this clarinetist wasn’t doing it. And finally he slammed his hand down on the podium and he said, “It says in the score ‘Schalltrichter in die Höhe!’” It was so frightening that all of the sudden everybody was doing it. Mahler, in his scores, is very, very particular and very detailed about what he wants. So if he wants your bells up, you put your bells up, period. And Abravanel would insist on that.

Single-mindedness

There were people in Abravanel’s orchestra who didn’t like him because he was so single-minded. I remember when one of my children was born, I was there for the birth but then I had to go back to the rehearsal because there was no such thing as time off, even if your baby was born. That’s the way it was. And Gustav Mahler was that way too. So single-minded in purpose that nothing was more important than what you were doing at the moment. Nothing! And nothing was more important than the music.

Becoming a Better Human Being

We were rehearsing a Bruckner symphony and it wasn’t going well, so Abravanel stopped and he said, “Look, you know, we need to work harder on this part. Now when you go to do your practicing, work on this. Let’s make it beautiful.” And he said, “Not because you are musicians, but because you are human beings.” And that’s the way he looked at it. Being a great musician or being a great anything makes you a better human being, and that’s what it’s about. That’s what art is about. That’s what high art is about. It’s to make you a better human being.

Mahler Tells the Story of Life

We were on a trip this summer with Scott Kenney and his wife Susan. At one point, Susan said, “Craig, if you had one symphony that you could take with you to a desert island, what one would it be?” And I thought, and I thought, and I thought. And I said, “You know, I’ve narrowed it down to three, but I think I’d say I want a recording of the Mahler Ninth.” And Scott said, “That’s what I’d take.” I mean, I just think that’s amazing that out of all the things it could possibly have been, here are two people who had played with Abravanel, who were introduced to the tradition and so forth. So Susan said, “Well, why would you do that?” And I said because I think for me as I listen to Mahler symphonies from one through nine and Das Lied, that I’m watching life unfold from the time that you’re a young innocent in nature in the introduction of the First Symphony and the cuckoos and all that kind of stuff, all the way to the Ninth Symphony. It’s about death, especially the last movement. It’s in the last movement where Mahler tells you what it’s like to die. And so I said, “To me, that’s why I would like Mahler Ninth, because that tells the story of not just my life, but it tells the story of everybody’s life.” And that’s why I think he’s just such a great, great composer.

TRIO series: the Timpanist

It was during a dress rehearsal of Brahms Violin Concerto—something came over me in the middle of the third movement that consumed my entire being. It said yes, this is exactly what I want to do. —George Brown

Utah Symphony timpanist George Brown grew up experimenting with different instruments. The son of a professional woodwind player, George knew as a little boy that he wanted to play the drums, but it was not until ninth grade—after taking a break from music to practice his jump shot—that he began playing them. Once he started, he never looked back.

George Brown

It was while pursuing an education at University of Louisville that George decided to audition for the United States Armed Forces Bi-Centennial Band.

“The story of the Bicentennial Band was a story of a particular celebration that ended up having an impact on my life then and afterwards,” says George, who swore into the United States Coast Guard upon landing a spot in the band.

He recalls a time in US history where the nation was not celebrating much of anything. Tremendous political upheaval, riots, high gas prices, the Watergate scandal, and the beginning of terrorism between the 1960s and 1970s consumed the country. From 1975–1976, the Bicentennial Band provided a way for people to come together and celebrate the historical events that led to the creation of the United States. George’s participation in the band meant twenty months of constant touring—and self-exploration.

“I saw the beginning of a healing process in which Americans finally had something to feel good about ourselves as Americans. The entire country participated in this. That provided an opportunity for me to participate in a celebration that was some of the best memories of my early career,” George says.

The tour also gave George the chance to travel—and ultimately come to Utah for the first time. He immediately fell in love with the mountainous landscape, and vowed to return. A series of remarkable musical experiences have given George many reasons to bask in life’s moments. From the East to the West to Mexico City and around the world, George carries with him beautiful memories of celebrating life through music.

By Autumn Thatcher


Stay tuned for our last TRIO series’ article on the well-known composer, Nico Muhly.

Community Collaboration Spotlight: The Madeleine Choir School

MCS-Choir-Photo-2015

Q: Over the history of the school, how has The Madeleine Choir School used music to celebrate?

The Choir School was established in 1996 very much in the tradition of the European Cathedral Choir Schools, and so a very strong relationship exists between the Choir School and the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The choristers sing daily and Sunday services in the Cathedral during which their music heightens the joy of festivals and happy occasions, laments and expresses grief at personal and community loss and tragedy, and through its beauty seeks to inspire all people to more noble lives. We perform and celebrate with the great treasury of sacred music, including musical settings for the Mass of G. P. da Palestrina, W. A. Mozart, Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms, Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten and many more.

Q: Can you explain how the curriculum or day to day function of the school brings music into the students’ everyday lives and what your goals are in shaping the way the choristers relate to music?

Madeleine Choir School

Music permeates the day at the Choir School, from the very active early music education opportunities in the lower school, the beginning violin instruction in second and third grades, the initial chorister formation in fourth grade, the work of the various choirs in grades five through eight, music theory and music history coursework through to singing for Cathedral services and community events. By discipline, practice and study, we hope to empower students to make musical expression a natural part of their lives as future composers, performers, audience members and advocates for the arts.

Q:  From a young age, the Madeleine Choir School students are exposed to a lot of monumental works and performance opportunities filled with pomp and circumstance. How does one go about imparting the historical, cultural and overall significance to the students? Discuss if music provides the context by which they can understand, relate to and appreciate the situations they are afforded (ie. Performing with Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Mormon Tabernacle Choir)

The Annual Cathedral Concert Series and the collaboration with local musical institutions such as the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are clear highlights in the musical experience of our young people. The thrill and excitement of participation in these professional productions is highly valued by the children as they look back on their work at the Choir School. We work to be sure they understand the significance of the musical works they participate in, connecting studies in history, philosophy, literature and more with the cultural milieu from which the musical work emerged and to which it was addressed. The Symphony’s Mahler Cycle has been a great source of study and inspiration at the school.

Q:  Describe the personality type of a student that is drawn to attend the Madeleine Choir School, and how music generally figures in their life.

Bright, engaged young people with a variety of interests who are open to commitment and hard work thrive in the fast-paced environment of the Choir School. Parents often report with amusement that the students are often caught singing while at play with their classmates…in Latin! Our graduates regularly applaud the discipline and work-habits they acquired during their years at the Choir School. Daily instruction, rehearsals and regular performances are a part of the experience of a student. These experiences lay the foundation for future musical and artistic engagement throughout their lives.

By Gregory A. Glenn, Pastoral Administrator, The Madeleine Choir School.


To see the Madeleine Choir School in action, check out their upcoming performances with the Utah Symphony: The Child and the Enchantments. Friday November 13, and Saturday 14 at 7:30pm, at Abravanel Hall. For more information and tickets, visit the Utah Symphony website.

TRIO series: the Percussionist

Music describes perfectly the indescribable. All those emotions and feelings, the magical and extremely personal relationship we all have with the music of our choice and tastes, these are things of defining beauty and wonder for the human race, and are without penalty nor discrimination. —Colin Currie

Colin Currie

Visiting percussionist Colin Currie grew up in Edinburgh and continued studies in London, where he currently lives. The internationally renowned percussionist says that he has always loved the drums, but it was around the age of 13—upon first encountering the symphony orchestra—that he decided to devote his life to classical music, percussion, and contemporary composers.

“It was my goal from that time to contribute to the solo repertoire for my instruments, especially in the area of significant works of adventure, dignity, and longevity,” says Colin.

Colin admits to recognizing that a life of music might entail sacrifices to achieve the things he believed in, but the experience has been an enriching one that has allowed his musical life to be sustained by his career, and vice versa. He sees every premier he gives as potentially a cause to celebrate the wealth of percussion music.

“I have been very lucky to meet and work with the truly outstanding writers of our time, and I delight in introducing the thoughts and insight these composers bring to percussion. There have been too many highlights to pick and choose names, but this latest addition by Andrew Norman will be no exception. We will certainly be in a celebratory place on the occasion of this premiere!” Colin says.

Colin Currie

A life devoted to music is certain to have many memories of moments influenced by it. For Colin, he recalls hearing Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” for the first time, as well as string quartets by Bela Bartok and Benjamin Britten. Another moment that stands out to him happened when he was 15.

“The first time I ever performed a concerto was a very affecting experience. I performed the Panufnik “Concertino” with the London Symphony Orchestra. It was early days for both me and the repertoire but I caught ‘the bug’ immediately,” says Colin.

Since those early days, Colin has appreciated the way in which life can be celebrated and enriched through music.

“Existing in real time, music also traces one of the greatest mystery of existence: the transition from one moment to the next. The closer we get to music, the more beautiful and magical it becomes.”

By Autumn Thatcher


Stay tuned for our next TRIO series’ article on the Utah Symphony timpanist, George Brown.

Mahler Factoids

Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler

  1. Great minds often meet throughout history; that was the case in 1910 when Mahler’s marriage was in a crisis and he had a session with the great Sigmund Freud.
  2. Great artists are never satisfied, and the same can be said for their audiences. The original version of “Titan” titled “A Symphonic Poem in Two Sections” was poorly received at first. It took 3 years for it to be performed again and numerous revisions until audiences appreciated it.
  3. Perfection is often the key to destruction, and Mahler was no exception. Known for being such a perfectionist even to the most microscopic detail, he achieved amazing professional results, but also made numerous enemies because of this trait.
  4. During the happiest time of Mahler’s life he composed Symphony No. 6, referred to as Tragische (Tragic) whose nihilistic, abrupt, ending was a shock to audiences.
  5. There is this great fascination with working with some of the greats throughout history. However, working with Mahler is better left to the imagination; his bursts of anger and authoritarian attitude made him unbelievably difficult to work with.
  6. Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 has been described as a hero’s epic journey; its unhinged, almost overwhelming orchestra on the piece holds all the key elements to a classical hero’s journey. Picture Odysseus: his beginning, his journey, and his destination. Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 would be the soundtrack to such a journey.

By Seeth McGavien


In November, the Utah Symphony will be performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and his “Tragic” Symphony. For more information and tickets, please go here and here.
And did you know that the solo percussionist, Colin Currie, will be joining the Utah Symphony for Mahler’s Symphony No. 5? Check out our TRIO series to learn more about him!