Top 5 moments when Sutton Foster dazzled us

If anyone knows how to entertain an audience, it’s Sutton Foster. This two-time Tony Award winner can do it all: sing, dance, act, and make people laugh. And her show at the Deer Valley® Music Festival is not something you’ll want to miss.

Don’t believe us? Here are some of the best moments when her powerhouse performances stole the show.

Foster’s first big break was in Thoroughly Modern Milly, a story about a small-town girl who escapes to New York City. While she was originally the understudy for this role, she ended up playing it on Broadway and getting her first Tony for it.

Maybe she doesn’t want to show off, but after a performance like this, we don’t mind if she steals the spotlight at her Deer Valley performance! Foster was nominated for the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for this hilarious performance of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Is there anything this woman can’t do? This clip of her award-winning performance in Anything Goes showcases her amazing singing AND dancing skills.

If you’re not familiar with her work on Broadway, you will definitely know her from TV. She’s currently on her fifth season of Younger on TV Land. Apparently, she’s hilarious on- and off-screen because she’s always finding ways to make her co-stars laugh.

If you spent the holidays in Salt Lake City last year, you may have already seen Sutton Foster perform live. She gave a stunning performance at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s yearly Christmas program.

This concert will be nothing short of amazing. Get your tickets to see Sutton Foster with the Utah Symphony here.

Q&A with Rick Springfield

We may be an orchestra, but you better believe we know how to rock n’ roll. This summer, we’re most excited to rock out with Rick Springfield himself! We asked him a few questions, and he gave us some thoughtful answers.

How is writing song lyrics similar to writing a novel?

It’s a very similar process. I sit with my computer open and wait for a miracle. Most of the time there is zip, but occasionally the process produces something. Writing a novel is like writing a really, really long song that doesn’t have to rhyme. It’s all a crap-shoot and I never know what the outcome will be with either, so it keeps it interesting. The great thing about writing is that anything can happen—which is the magic in it.

What are your biggest musical inspirations?

The Beatles—I’m still trying to figure out what they did. Early Cliff Richard and The Shadows. And before that, Rodgers and Hammerstein and all the great Broadway musicals.

What are you most excited about for your debut in Park City?

Going back to where I learned to ski. In 1979, I had a friend who was a really good skier, so we went to Park City, and I fell down the mountain for a few days until I finally got the hang of it. I will always have great memories of this place because it was just before the “Jessie’s girl” hit and everything changed for me.

How has music and artistic expression helped you through your experiences with depression?

Music and having a voice in the arts has been a great help. Art is as nebulous as depression, so they go hand in hand to me. A lot of what I write comes from my depression, and I try to turn it into something positive so it doesn’t beat me. I would always recommend talking to someone and not have it be a lonely journey. Artistic expression is something that can channel darkness very well.

Are you working on any projects that you’re passionate about right now?

I am writing a new novel, finishing up an orchestral album, and writing new music. Touring with the 3 different shows (my band, solo, and symphony) is very exciting and keeps things interesting.

What are some of your best memories of being on the road?

The road is tough. The most fun are the gigs. That’s what keeps me on the road. The big party at the end of a long journey.

Get your fix of rock n’ roll at Rick Springfield with the Utah Symphony! Buy your tickets here.

Q&A with Jerry Steichen

What is your best memory of the Deer Valley Music Festival? 

  1. Watching the slope fill up with audience members—spreading blankets, sharing friendship.
  2. The first moment I walk out on stage and feel the excitement before each concert.
  3. The first four seasons, when we did fully-staged and choreographed Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
  4. And the sound of the Utah Symphony echoing through the valley.

What are things you always do when you come to Utah? 

  1. Crown Burger!
  2. Hiking around Deer Valley.
  3. Coffee with Llew and Sally Humphreys.

In your opinion, what makes Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber great composers?

Lloyd Webber has an incredible gift for melody, and he composes easily in every musical style. Compare Jesus Christ Superstar to Cats to Phantom of the Opera—talk about flexibility. But it’s really his melodies that grab you.

Sondheim has the broadest gifts of theatrical skill. From the lyrics to West Side Story and Gypsy to the complex characters in Into the Woods and Company to the musical genius that is Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George—his mastery of text combining with music to take us on musical journeys is unsurpassed

What is the best thing about conducting at the Deer Valley Music Festival?

The orchestra and the audience—there is so much Joy.

What do you like most about this concert’s repertoire?

Variety! My favorite thing is having something different in every selection, and it is so much fun!

Q&A with Rachel Potter

Are you as excited as we are for the Deer Valley® Music Festival? This year we’re starting off in fiery fashion with Patriotic Celebration starring Rachel Potter. Our guest artist is an actress, singer, and songwriter who has been everywhere from Broadway to The X Factor, and now she’s coming to the mountains of Deer Valley. We asked her a few questions about the upcoming concert, and this is what she had to say:

What do you do to keep your life balanced on the road?

I have a toddler who is 1 1/2 years old named Jude, so I try to look at going out on the road as a vacation! Since I don’t usually travel but once a month, I treat it as my opportunity to get to sleep in while my husband takes the lead at home. I try to eat as healthy as I can when I am traveling, and on occasion, get a massage and relax. FaceTime is a lifesaver so that my family and I don’t miss each other too much. I love to visit the local favorites whenever I am in a new city and make the most of my time away from home.

What are some of your favorite patriotic songs and why?

I absolutely love Ray Charle’s version of America the Beautiful, and we just so happen to be doing it at the concert! It was in the film The Sandlot, (which I recently learned was filmed in Salt Lake City!) and I love that movie. I was a kid when it came out, and I would guess where I heard it for the first time. That song, for me, is very nostalgic, and he sings it with such passion. I hope I can do it justice this weekend!

I also am very partial to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. It’s such a powerful song – whenever I have performed it live, or seen it done live, it always brings people to their feet. It’s a lovely tribute to the freedom we all share and reminds us of the sacrifice our military men and women make for us daily.

What are your family’s 4th of July traditions?

When I was growing up, we usually spent our 4th of July in Alabama with my mom’s family. It was probably a similar story to most small-town Americans… we would go to a park with the rest of the town, eat hot dogs, listen to patriotic songs, and watch a fireworks show. Even after seeing the fireworks show in NYC, Nashville and even Disney World (which are all amazing, by the way), I still look on my summers in Alabama most fondly. And of course, they blasted Sweet Home Alabama every year!

You initially got your degree in public relations and advertising—what drew you to start a singing career instead?

Actually, it was more the other way around. I began my recording artist career at 15 and had been performing professionally at Disney World for 2 years by the time I chose that major. I was considering musical theater but felt it would be wise to get a degree I could fall back on. Luckily, I have not had to use it yet!

What TV series are you obsessed with right now?

I am currently watching Ken Burns documentary on The Vietnam War. My stepdad suffers from severe PTSD, having served in Vietnam at only 18 years old. My husband and I wanted to familiarize ourselves with the war so that we could be more sympathetic to all that he went through. He holds a Purple Heart from the army.

What’s your dream musical theater role and why?

I would absolutely love to have the chance to play Elphaba in Wicked. I have already had the tremendous honor to play Glinda, but it would be a dream come true to get to check that role off my bucket list, and be one of the only women to ever play both parts!

Did you love this? Get your tickets for Patriotic Celebration starring Rachel Potter here. 

5 things to enjoy in Park City during the Deer Valley® Music Festival

Park City is one of Utah’s hidden jewels. The people are friendly, the streets are historic, and there is always some fun event going on! Are you attending the Deer Valley® Music Festival and want to explore the city beforehand or do you want to stay and play after the concert? Here is a list of fun things to do during your Deer Valley® Music Festival weekend excursion.

#1 Enjoy the great outdoors

Park City is home to many incredible hiking and biking trails. You can take guided historical hikes, walk to scenic viewpoints, or push yourself to the limits with mountain peak trails. The Deer Valley Resort, alone, has 70 miles of biking trails that spread over 6 mountains! Come to explore the outdoors and then spend an evening relaxing at the Deer Valley® Music Festival.

#2 Relax at outdoor concerts

Park City’s music scene is thriving, with performances fitting every budget and preference. The Deer Valley® Music Festival is the summer home of Utah Symphony |Utah Opera (USUO). Escape into the music with Utah Symphony and world-renowned guest artists for a magical night on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort. You might even see us around town. This summer we’re hosting free pop-up community concerts featuring Utah Symphony ensembles, our Utah Opera Resident artists and more.

#3 Savor some fine dining

Park City has many food and wine events throughout the year. Summer is one of the best times to explore food-related activities the city has to offer. There are food tours of Historic Main Street, culinary classes, and wine tastings with Fox School of Wine, Park City Wine Club, and Utah Wine Tours. One popular local event is the Mines & Wines tour that explores artisan wines and local mining history every Saturday during the summer. Not to mention, Park City is home to some amazing restaurants. Spend the afternoon tasting and exploring history before enjoying an evening under the stars.

#4 Take an art stroll

Many art strolls and art festivals take place during the summer in Park City. The Last Friday Gallery Stroll is a fun and free event that takes place the last Friday of every month during the summer. At this event, you can walk through art galleries and experience the local art scene without breaking the bank. The Kimball Arts Festival is held the first weekend in August. This event includes kids’ art classes, “make it and take it” activities, vendors, displays, and more. Come to the Kimball Arts Festival and then enjoy a concert that night!

#5 Make some memories with your family

Many activities that take place in Park City are family friendly. One of the local favorites is the Park Silly Sunday Market that takes place every Sunday of the summer season. Main street is sectioned off for the event, food trucks and vendors sell wares, families, and children explore booths and activities, and Utah Symphony ensembles will perform on the outdoor stage. Experiencing the Utah Olympic Park is another way to thrill families of all ages. It’s a great place to enjoy exhilarating tubing, a high ropes course, zip lining, outdoor bobsledding, tour the Olympic facilities and museums, and more. Exploring the Utah Olympic Park is a family-friendly way to pass the time before your concert that evening.

With many activities and events to keep you busy, I’m sure your Deer Valley® Music Festival weekend excursion will be a big hit! Check out our concert schedule here.

Musicians of the Utah Symphony in Haiti

You may be aware that the Musicians of the Utah Symphony have recently started a new educational outreach effort in Haiti. The origin story of the Haitian National Orchestra Institute (HNOI) has to do with the longtime friendship between Utah Symphony cellist John Eckstein, and BLUME Haiti (Building Leaders Using Music Education) president Janet Anthony. In short, 17 Musicians of the Utah Symphony and Maestro Thierry Fischer traveled to Cap Haitien in late March 2018 for the second annual HNOI.

One hundred of the most advanced musicians from throughout Haiti were selected by audition to form an orchestra, and experience an intense week filled with private and group lessons, sectionals and full orchestra rehearsals. The Institute culminated in an inspired performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 led by our very own Maestro Fischer. This year, in an effort to chronicle our project, we brought a film crew.

Working with our students, who mainly speak Haitian Creole and French, we used all of our nonverbal communication skills. Our HNOI students, often the music teachers in their own communities, were very hungry to learn. Meeting other music students from other regions of Haiti for the first time, they seemed to thrive on the excitement and creative energy all around them. The students also realized the significance of working with a conductor of international stature, and professional orchestral musicians working directly with small groups. But the learning occurred both ways. It opened our eyes on so many levels, and the Utah Symphony musicians who participated have kept in touch with their new friends in Haiti via social media, and look forward to the next time we can work together.

I’m constantly amazed at what an astounding organism an orchestra is. Sometimes the violin section (my point of view) seems like a school of fish that can change direction with a collective mind of its own. The nonverbal communication between conductor and orchestra, and among musicians, feels almost like magic. Stand partners (two violinists who share one music stand) because of our proximity, can pick up on each other’s energy and at the same time feel the intention coming from all points of the stage. The more advanced the orchestra, the clearer our communication. I’m sure that some of our audience members amuse themselves by watching all of the complex interactions occurring during a performance. It is a wonderful thing when a large group of people can come together with a common purpose, perhaps a metaphor for society.

In Haiti, a place so near and yet so far removed from the comforts we take for granted, we were moved by the joyful, eager, and talented students. This effort has become a passion for John and myself, and we feel very fortunate to be able to bring together these dedicated Haitian students with our outstanding friends and colleagues in the Utah Symphony. Recruiting our colleagues was extremely easy both years, even though they volunteer their time and pay most of their own travel expenses. Upon hearing of our plan to create an outreach effort in Haiti, Maestro Thierry Fischer immediately volunteered to come and conduct. Suddenly everything had fallen into place better than we could have ever imagined. Much planning and fundraising led to the first-ever HNOI, which took place in March 2017 in the seaside town of Jacmel. Its resounding success has been enough to fuel our continued passion for this initiative.

Maestro Fischer put it well when being interviewed about the significance of the Haiti project, pointing out that “involvement in the arts makes life better and worth living, and music has as much of a place in a struggling rural village as in a thriving cultural city… it gives us the chance to see the beauty of the collective and to move away from being just an individual even for a moment.” I wholeheartedly agree. Sharing music, whether it be at Abravanel Hall, or in some unexpected environment such as Dinosaur National Monument, or Haiti is vital and miraculous.

Violinist Yuki MacQueen joined the Utah Symphony in June 2000. When not playing in the symphony or volunteering in Haiti, she enjoys playing chamber music, baking sweets, and traveling the world.

Staff Picks: Melissa Robison

My name is Melissa Robison, and I’m the Front of House Director for the Deer Valley® Music Festival. This will be my 11th season enjoying my summers in Park City! My job is to make sure you enjoy your time on the hill, and I do that with a staff of 100 volunteers every night! From ushers, ticket takers to security and merchandise—we do it all! We have a great time, and if you ever want to join us as a volunteer, we’d love to have you! You can learn more about volunteering here.

Every year we start the Deer Valley® Music Festival season with our Patriotic Celebration concerts, and I look forward to starting my summer concert season with them every year! They play some of my favorite patriotic songs, have surprise guest conductors, and top it all off with amazing friends and family! The patriotic concerts include my favorite moment of the entire summer when we honor each branch of the military. Coming from a military family which has members in the Marines, Air Force, Army, and National Guard, it is a special moment to honor these men and women for the beautiful sacrifices they’ve made for us.

When it comes to food, our favorite place to stop is the Deer Valley Café right at the bottom of the roundabout as you’re heading to the Snow Park Lodge. They have the most amazing homemade chips and the open-faced tuna melts are absolutely to die for. We grab a couple sarsaparillas and enjoy them on the blanket side of the hill. We also throw in a plate of our favorite cheeses from the cheese bar at Harmons or Smith’s. The local cheeses in Utah are amazing, and our favorite is lined with coffee beans. Sometimes we make it up there with friends and family, but sometimes it is just nice to sit with my husband and enjoy the concert—just the two of us—and we each put something in the snack bag to surprise each other.

Don’t miss this first concert—if not for your pure enjoyment, then to honor those that fought for the freedoms we enjoy today!

How to DVMF: 4 ways to get the most out of the Deer Valley® Music Festival

It’s just not summer unless you make some unforgettable memories! The Deer Valley® Music Festival (or “DVMF”) always has amazing concerts, but it’s not just about the music—it’s about the experience of escaping into the music.

Here are some ways to have a memorable DVMF escape this year:

#1 Prepare for the venue.

What could be more enjoyable than listening to live music in the open air? An outdoor venue certainly has its perks, and summers in Park City are usually nice, but you’ll still want to prepare for the venue.

The venue is at the Deer Valley Resort, and most of the seating is general admission. This means you’ll be sitting on a big hill that is usually used for skiing during the winter. To make yourself more comfortable, wear a good pair of walking shoes and bring a blanket or a short camping chair (no higher than 9” off the ground). Keep in mind that Park City gets chilly at night, so make sure to bring a blanket or a jacket.

Parking is free at the venue, but usually, traffic is heavy and parking is tight during the summer. Consider carpooling if you plan to meet with friends. You can learn more about the venue in our FAQ section.

#2 Pack a picnic.

What’s the best part about being at an outdoor venue? You get to bring your own snacks! With all the great options from local artisans, you’re sure to find all sorts of goodies to put in your picnic basket.

Of course, if you’re on the go, food and drinks are available at the concession stand in the venue, and you can even order a gourmet picnic bag from Deer Valley Resort. We do not sell alcohol inside the venue, but you are free to bring your own.

#3 Plan a staycation.

If you’re not a Park City native, why not make a weekend of it? Park City is filled with fun things to do. From the Olympic Park to historic Main Street, or from scenic hikes to the Park Silly Sunday Market, you can make an entire mini-vacation out of your weekend.

Not sure where to stay? We’ve got you covered. Thanks to our friends at Stay Park City, you can make reservations online here with any of our preferred lodging partners. Take a dip in Montage’s serene outdoor pool, stay close to the venue with lodging at Deer Valley Resort, enjoy Sunday brunch at Stein Eriksen Lodge, or treat yourself to a spa day at St. Regis. With five-star accommodations, you can’t go wrong!

#4 Make some memories!

You’ll want to have a reminder of all the great memories you make at the festival! Don’t forget to bring a camera or snap some pictures with your phone. We’d love to see all the fun you’re having, so please upload your photos to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tag us @utahsymphony and hashtag us with #DVMF.

Now that you are ready to come to the festival, which concerts are you coming to? See the full lineup here.

Song Cycle: A playlist by Madeline Adkins

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably addicted to finding new music. To help you satisfy your thirst for great music, this series of articles is dedicated to the people who know music best: the musicians of our orchestra. Keep reading to learn more and listen to concertmaster Madeline Adkins’ curated playlist inspired by the Korngold Violin Concerto which she will perform on May 25-26, 2018:

My Spotify playlist is an intro to the Korngold Violin Concerto and also a few of my personal influences! Firstly, I’ve included a few other works by Korngold himself. The very first track from the Prince and the Pauper prominently features in the violin concerto—you will be sure to recognize it! I include the main titles from Captain Blood and Robin Hood, for which Korngold won an Oscar. Also, music from his composition The Snowman, his Much Ado About Nothing suite, and a Suite for 2 Violins, Cello, and Piano Left Hand.

Korngold’s early influences included Zemlinsky, Wagner, and Mahler, but he came into the public consciousness mainly through his film scores. He came to Hollywood in the 30’s to escape wartime Europe and wrote a number of notable film scores including Robin Hood and Captain Blood. He returned to “art music” after the war, at which time his violin concerto was premiered by Jascha Heifetz in 1947.

I included a number of other prominent classical pieces from that time that have been incorporated in movies, such as Ravel’s Piano Concerto, Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No. 2, and the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. You’ll also hear a violin concerto by Louis Gruenberg, another film composer whose concerto was also premiered by Jascha Heifetz, as well as a Bernard Herrmann classic from Taxi Driver.

The last five tracks are the getting-to-know-me section. As far as my personal influences, my dad was a prominent historical performance scholar, so I grew up well versed in Baroque music. Included here: Rachel Podger’s sublime interpretation of Biber’s Passacaglia.

I grew up in a jazz town (Denton, Texas) so Frank Sinatra is non-negotiable.  Before concerts, I love to get energized with my disco playlist… hence the Parliament.

One of my earlier classical influences was my first six years in the Baltimore Symphony when Yuri Temirkanov was the music director. I include a quintessential YT track of Prokofiev (also, not insignificantly, one of my two favorite composers!)

Finally, a track from my first commercial release my other favorite composer: Mendelssohn. This is an unpublished sonata movement I found in a Berlin archive!

Enjoy and I hope to see you at Season Finale: Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 on May 25th and 26th!

9 Inspiring Quotes from Thierry Fischer’s USU Commencement Speech

Photo credit: Utah State University

You can feel the anticipation in the air. Imagine the feeling of getting ready to graduate from college after four years of hard work and dedication and seeing your future in front of you. Perhaps there is a sense of fear for not knowing what it holds, but for anyone who has stared their future square in the face, they know the feelings of hope and excitement it brings.

On Saturday, May 5, 2018, Maestro Thierry Fischer spoke to a room of graduating Utah State University students and shared some inspiring words of wisdom. The university also conferred on him (as well as several others) an honorary doctorate to recognize his sacrifices and dedication to instilling positive change in the world.

Below are some of the most inspiring quotes from his speech:

#1 “I feel like the future of tomorrow is here in this wonderful stadium today. You are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. But to be a leader doesn’t mean you need to be famous—you are the leaders of yourselves and that’s what matters.”

#2 “How can I have an impact? Should I be a participant or actor? Those questions are a unique opportunity to make you see what a privilege it is to have questions. The questions should not be a burden—they are your opportunity to make the world better.”

Photo credit: Utah State University

#3 “It is time to share your voice. Talk about your dreams… your aspirations.”

#4 “The only person who can give you advice is yourself.”

#5 “If you feel discouragement, cynicism, sarcasm, let down—by your leaders or by yourself—from my experience with the symphony, these feelings are an opportunity and look for a vision. Look for the way you want to create your own life. No other destiny than you want for yourself. No dream you cannot reach. It’s a good time to be inventive.”

Photo credit: Utah State University

#6 “Think, hope, dream, dare—shoot for the today you want for tomorrow.”

#7 “This feeling of expressing yourself in a collective is something that that happens in the symphony every day. Never forget—you are not alone. Discovering what you can do for the world is the most important thing. You make your own future. You make your own destiny.”

#8 “You can’t have failures define you. You have to have failures teach you.”

#9 “Have fun. Don’t ever give up on yourself. Create possibilities in the world of today which is full of possibilities.”

Photo credit: Utah State University