Pre-concert rituals: Philippe Quint

Phillippe Quint and Leather JacketProfessional musicians often spend much of their lives on the road performing in concert venues around the globe. Amid the hectic travel schedules, rehearsals, practice time and adjustments to a different time zone, culture and climate, regular routine is sacrificed. We ask our guest artists to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded. Philippe Quint, our Artist in Association who will be performing Corigliano “The Red Violin” concerto, takes us through his pre-show routine.

My pre-concert rituals differ from performance to performance. I try to individually judge necessities for every single concert. There are three main factors that play into this: Travel, time changes, and repertoire.

I always try to arrive at performances as early as possible to get accustomed to time differences and climate/temperature changes. The same is also necessary for my instrument! Playing on an old instrument (1708 “Ruby” Stradivari violin) means that the instrument might also be impacted by such changes.

If it’s new repertoire or a world premiere of a piece that no one has ever heard, it is possible that I will practice the entire time during the engagement.

I try to stay away from coffee as it only gives a temporary artificial boost and can make me jittery and anxious rather than alert. In general, I consider myself to be quite a hyper individual with enough adrenaline that does not need to be mixed with caffeine.

I am very careful with my diet as well. Depending on the time of the concert, I try to stay away from spicy or acidic foods. Right before going onstage, I prefer to be alone in my dressing room with water supplies and reduce any communications to a minimum.

I know a lot of folks believe that artists’ lives are very glamorous, with exotic travel, accolades, and being a momentary hero of the day. But the background story is that while the thrill of performance is inimitable by all means, life on the road is all about discipline, ability to withstand pressures, and keeping yourself in check at all times.

Want to know more about Philippe Quint? Check out this video from Strings Magazine:

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Everything you need to know about the “1812 Overture”

For us, it’s just not summer without an explosive finale at the Deer Valley® Music Festival. And what could be more exciting and brilliant than Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture? Every year, we perform this exciting piece, and it never fails to wow audiences!

Not sure which piece we’re talking about? You’ve probably heard some of the most famous parts immortalized in movies like V for Vendetta or commercials that need an extra dose of excitement. Even groups like The Melodica Men have parodied it:

Are you headed up to see it this year? Here’s everything you need to know about this iconic work:

The history of the piece:

Despite what the name might make you think, this work was actually composed in 1880 and first performed in 1882. Also contrary to what you might think, this work has nothing to do with the War of 1812 between the United States and the British. (Although it has become a patriotic favorite!)

This work was actually commissioned to commemorate Russia’s defense against Napoleon’s armies in 1812. If you listen closely, you can actually hear the themes of the French national anthem (the Marseillaise) as well as some traditional Russian folk songs and hymns.

What makes this piece particularly exciting is that it has a strong narrative. You can almost see the battle waging between the French and Russian armies. Tchaikovsky even employed real cannons and arranged for bells to ring from neighboring churches during the first performance.

With all the excitement and fanfare of this piece, who wouldn’t love it? Answer: Tchaikovsky himself—he hated it. For one, he was never big on huge displays of patriotism. He once even called it “very loud” and “noisy” and thought it lacked artistic merit. To be completely fair, HE was the one who chose to use cannons.

What to expect at the concert:

We pull out all the stops when we perform the 1812 Overture! In addition to knowing what to expect at the venue (which you can read about here), you might be interested in some of the following facts about our Deer Valley performances.

We usually pair the 1812 Overture with other Tchaikovsky masterworks. If you love Tchaikovsky’s ballets, piano concertos, and other symphonic pieces, you’ll love this program. We also love to add in traditional, well-loved patriotic pieces to keep things interesting. The program changes from year to year, so you’ll have to look the repertoire up here.

We’ll also have real live cannons! The Cannoneers of the Wasatch join us every year to set off cannons. What could possibly be better than that, you ask? They will be in costumes based on uniforms from the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.

One thing that makes this year’s performance extra special is we’ll be performing with the Utah Opera Chorus. Part of the 1812 Overture is based off a traditional hymn which is still sung in Russian Orthodox churches. Although it’s not part of the original score, we’ll be singing a version of it in English.

Are you ready for an explosive end to the season? Get your tickets to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture here

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Backstage at the Deer Valley® Music Festival: The volunteers that make it all possible

Do you love the arts, and are you looking for a fun way to help the community? The Utah Symphony’s volunteer program is the perfect place to see world-class talent for free and spend your time helping others!

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is a non-profit company. Because of this, we rely on volunteers to help us run all of our concerts and shows. I went backstage at the Deer Valley® Music Festival to see the amazing volunteers in action and ask them some questions about their experience.

My first stop backstage was to talk with the person in charge of the volunteers, Melissa Robison. She has worked as the Front of House Director at the Utah Symphony for 10 years, and she runs the volunteer program. She said each performance has about 100 volunteers assisting the staff and patrons. Many volunteers help at more than one performance, so the total number of volunteers every summer averages out to be approximately 600 people giving a combined estimate of 8,500 service hours.

One of those many volunteers is Arlem Hale. He has been volunteering with Utah Symphony | Utah Opera for over eight years. He enjoys volunteering at the festival because of the wonderful people he meets up in the clean mountain air. His favorite memory at the festival is when he met and shook hands with Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Rogers. He says the volunteers are vital because “The Utah Symphony could not pull this off without us.” He has made lasting friendships with the other volunteers and symphony musicians and considers them all to be family.

I also met a married couple who volunteer together at the festival. Rebekah and Joel Hopper have been married for just over a year and have been volunteering at the festival together for the past two years. Rebekah volunteered with the symphony prior to meeting her husband, and once they met, he joined her and the tradition has continued ever since. They are both music lovers and enjoy supporting the arts through service. Joel said, “Volunteering is a great way to spend the summer and have fun, free date nights.”

Besides getting to watch the concert, volunteers are also given ticket vouchers to use at future concerts during the year. Many of the summer volunteers use their vouchers to attend performances during the fall, like the upcoming opera production of “Romeo & Juliet.”

After talking with the Hoppers, I was scanning the crowd and noticed three kids with walkie-talkies and volunteer vests. Melissa introduced them and said they were the junior interns. All around the age of 15-16, they spend their summer attending the concerts and keeping morale high between the volunteers. They run snacks and drinks to the volunteers and make sure everyone is having a fun time.

The junior interns are chosen by Melissa and get a great service experience to put on college applications. This excited group of young people mentioned that their favorite parts were helping everyone, goofing off during their free time, and getting to watch the concerts. Each said their families volunteer with them and that they love helping run the concerts.

During my tour backstage, I was excited to see many different people and ages volunteering. Everyone was so friendly and the volunteers were all happy to help in any way. Melissa said, “We are one big family and have a blast working together. I have never laughed so hard or enjoyed a concert so much as I have with this amazing group of volunteers. We love adding family members every year, and we would love to have more join us!”

Volunteering with Utah Symphony | Utah Opera creates the opportunity to build lasting friendships, support the arts and attend concerts for free. For more information on how to get involved visit our website here.  

The author, Shaundra Rushton, is a summer intern in the marketing department at Utah Symphony | Utah Opera. She is studying at Weber State University, and will soon graduate with her bachelor’s degree in communication. She is a singer, instrumentalist, writer, and loving wife to her also musically inclined husband.

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A mother-daughter date night at the Deer Valley® Music Festival

On Friday, July 13th I took my mom to the ABBA concert at the Deer Valley® Music Festival for a mother-daughter date night. We had such a blast! We arrived early in Park City to explore the town before the concert. Living in Ogden, we don’t often have the chance to visit this historic town, so we wanted to make the most of our time there.

We arrived in Park City before the concert and decided to explore Main Street. We walked along the street checking out the unique shops and getting our tourist fill. The first shop we went into was a high-end jewelry store way too pricey for a college student like me. Mom and I examined the fine diamonds as if we were royalty from a distant land, and were treated to gingersnap cookies on a silver platter by a store worker. The cookies instantly brightened our day. Who doesn’t like free cookies?

After that, we decided to look at the many clothing shops populating the street. We tried on outfits and silly hats galore and stumbled across our greatest find of the night-a store full of cowboy clothing. We suited up in our boots, hats and fringe jackets and posed as heroes of the Wild West.

It was in this store that a great change came over my mom. She changed from a city slicker into a cowboy hat aficionado. She was determined to find the perfect cowboy hat for her. Never mind that she had only ridden a horse maybe twice in her life—she wanted to find the perfect hat no matter what. After trying on most of the hats in the store and asking the workers many questions on the slight differences in hat styles and uses, she finally found the hat she wanted.

Being the good daughter that I am, I had to step in and remind her of her city slicker ways before she spent $400+ on a hat that would only be worn at parades and firework shows. She reluctantly put the hat down, took the worker’s contact card and walked out the door a cowgirl convert. I expect by now she has already petitioned my dad for a ranch of her own.

After the cowboy hat escapade, we walked through art galleries, ate dinner at a Brazilian restaurant and headed up to Deer Valley Resort just in time for the concert to begin.

My mom is a big ABBA fan, and from the opening number, she was up dancing and singing along with the symphony. She convinced me to stand up and belt the lyrics along with her, and by the end of the night, we had danced to almost every song. The crowd was just as animated as we were, and people young and old could be seen swaying along to the nostalgic sounds of ABBA.

A highlight of the evening was when three audience members dressed in colorful wings and costumes led the crowd in a conga line. My mom immediately jumped up and ran to join the fun, pulling me along with her. Our conga line triumphantly belted the words to “Fernando” as we danced across the ski hill.

Each song was better than the last, and we were sad when the ABBA tribute band performed their last song. As they walked off the stage, the crowd realized the song “Dancing Queen” had not been performed and began chanting “Dancing Queen!” repeatedly until the band walked back on stage to perform three encore numbers.

Not one soul in the audience was sitting down for the encore songs, and the night sky rang with 5,000 voices singing “Dancing Queen” in unison. The tribute band bid the crowd goodbye with the final number “Thank You for the Music,” and wished us all the best of luck on our next adventure. It truly was the perfect ending to a wonderful mother-daughter date at the Deer Valley® Music Festival.

On our way home, we sang ABBA songs and talked about our favorite parts of the day. We both had so much fun and our relationship was strengthened. We drew closer at the Deer Valley® Music Festival, and can’t wait to have another night out at the festival next year.

The author, Shaundra Rushton, is a summer intern in the marketing department at Utah Symphony | Utah Opera. She is studying at Weber State University, and will soon graduate with her bachelor’s degree in communication. She is a singer, instrumentalist, writer, and loving wife to her also musically inclined husband.

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