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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Q&A with Edwin Outwater

If you’re headed to the Deer Valley® Music Festival from July 27 to August 4th, you’re in for a treat! Edwin Outwater will be conducting these shows, and they will be nothing short of amazing. We talked to Outwater about his philosophies on music festivals and what he’d do if he was given a big bag filled with poetry.

What’s your philosophy when it comes to music education and community outreach?

I think carefully about what the word “outreach” means, and find good guiding principles there. When I’m reaching out to someone, I’m thinking about what they might want or need specifically and how I can help them.

In terms of music, I think everyone is in need of uplift and inspiration and that’s what I think we musicians do best. If we can connect with someone or a group of people and make them feel better about themselves and the world around them through music, then we’ve done something important. If they’re bored or think the experience they’re having is just OK, then we need to think more carefully about what we’re doing.

I also think there are plenty of people who could use music and inspiration in their lives we don’t reach out to enough. These are often people with the least access: people with language/culture barriers, people are too sick to leave their home, people who think they don’t belong, or can’t afford a regular concert. So I think it’s always good to ask, “Who among us needs the most uplift and inspiration?”

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

Well, I’m writing this blog to you from Japan, which really has become one of my favorite places. The orchestras are always fantastic and I love the exchange of cultures that happens. I think the orchestras really appreciate what they learn when I work with them on, say, the music of Leonard Bernstein. Most Japanese musicians are trained in Europe but they also love American music and are dying to know more about the idiom (swing, groove, blues) when I work with them. In the meantime, I learn a tremendous amount about Japanese culture which is so rich and complex. I always feel my sense of taste and aesthetics is a little deeper and more refined when I return from a trip to Japan.

What are you most excited about for your two weekends of concerts in Park City?

This is my first time in many years conducting in Deer Valley, and I’m excited to see how it has developed. I know the orchestra is sounding fantastic, and you have a huge and loyal audience for these concerts. I’m looking forward to being a part of this energy and learning more about it. Also, I love the outdoors so will be hiking, biking and moving around in any spare moments!

How would you describe your style as a conductor?

As a conductor, I think I always try to find that pivot point where the music takes off and has a life of its own. It’s like that feeling in surfing or skiing when gravity takes over and you start to really flow. It’s quite a refined skill, but after many years now I’m getting good at setting these things in motion.

I also think I’m a conductor who is very aware of his audience. I love to speak from the stage, and with just a few words connect the audience to what’s really going on with the music. I want the audience to feel like they’re part of what’s happening, not just passive observers.

You’re stuck on a desert island and you can only bring three books with you—what are they?

Great question, but I think I would just bring a large duffle bag of poetry instead. I think it would last the longest and be the most inspiring to me in the long term. There are so many great poets from the past and present to choose from, so it would be a mix of voices: old and new, male and female, from all walks of life. As my favorite English teacher said once to me, “I always want to be learning about someone else’s story besides my own!”

Here are a few voices that would be “in the bag:” Andrew Marvell, Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stevie Smith, Elizabeth Bishop, C.P. Cavafy, Wallace Stevens, Seamus Heaney, Lydia Davis, Langston Hughes, Frederick Seidel, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Ashberry, Ann Carson, Frank Bidart, Morgan Parker, and more. I’d also throw in some Ursula K. Le Guin because she writes in a poetic style and is wise and wonderful.

If you could program a dream music festival, what would you do and why?

I have lots of ideas! I’d love to see major pop/rock/hip-hop artists who have never worked with orchestras before collaborate with some of the country’s greatest arrangers and orchestrators. They’d work together to create all-new sets that will be heard for the first time at the festival. I’d like to do a semi-staged theatrical production (a big musical). I’d like to see major classical masterworks like Beethoven’s 9th or Carmina Burana happen on the main stage.

On the smaller, more intimate end, I’d like to see a series of salons that combine music with food, wine, literature, science, nature, yoga, and other things. I’d also like to create an experience that melds music with nature itself … a sunrise hike to a lake with music when you arrive, for instance, or a forest walk, with different musical experiences at different points along the way. I think the festival could build a really dynamic culture that celebrates experiences of music, delight, discovery, and generosity.

These are shows you won’t want to miss. See the full lineup and get tickets here.

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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 Millie, 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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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

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Classical music you didn’t know you loved: “Also sprach Zarathustra”

For some people, classical music might feel elusive and mysterious. While there is so much great classical music out there, it’s hard to keep it all straight. For example, perhaps you’ve heard a piece you like in a commercial or a television show, but you don’t know the name of it or even who composed it. You might want to add the piece to a playlist, but you don’t even know where to start looking.

This series of articles is here to set you straight. We are here to demystify all of the classical music you didn’t know you already loved.

This season we are performing Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra. The name may have you scratching your head, but you are sure to recognize the first section of this piece.

If you are at all familiar with the 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, you probably recognize this as the main theme of the movie. This theme, which was meant to depict the sunrise, is used very appropriately to mark the beginning of a new era for the hominids depicted in the film.

With a beginning that exciting, you would think that the rest of Strauss’ tone poem would be equally as amazing—and you would be right.

Don’t miss us perform this thrilling and recognizable piece. Get your tickets here.

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