Pre-Concert Rituals: Brant Bayless

Professional 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 asked two of our principal musicians who have prominent solo roles to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded.

Spoiler alert: I don’t have a pre-concert routine. I mostly have pre-concert chaos, depending on the daily specifics of family life and the whereabouts of my wife, whose time, really, I share with the members of her Fry Street String Quartet. Some evenings I’ll be driving in from our home in Logan, fighting traffic and weather. Some other evenings I’ll be cooking up a storm for our voracious five-year-old at our downtown pied-à-terre before letting in the sitter and dashing off to Abravanel (hoping the scent of sautéing garlic blows away on the short walk).

It’s when I arrive at Abravanel Hall that the only reliably routine rituals begin. The viola case goes to its place on my locker. Phone placed next to it. Then to the dressing room. Clean shirt, check. Favorite cuff links (a wedding gift from my wife), check. Tailcoat (fretting over the shiny patch where my viola rests), check. Shiny shoes, check. Pants? Phew, check. Then back to the viola case for a quick swipe of rosin, and down to the stage to calmly go over the tricky bits in tonight’s program.

I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

Want to know more about the viola’s role in the orchestra? Watch Brant explain it in this video:

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Deer Valley Music Festival Celebrates 15 Years

 

During the summer months when Abravanel Hall lies quiet to the reverberating sounds of classical music, the hills surrounding Park City come to life as the Utah Symphony retreats to its summer home at the Deer Valley® Music Festival (DVMF). Founded in 2003, the vision of the Deer Valley® Music Festival is to deliver a high quality and musically diverse experience in casual settings of unparalleled natural beauty – full orchestra concerts take place at a stunning outside hillside venue located at Deer Valley Resort.

The six-week festival provides as many as 18 chamber music, classical, and pops concerts in several venues throughout Park City: the Deer Valley® Resort Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, St. Mary’s Church, and salon events in private homes in the Park City area.

Over the years, the festival has supported big-name stars including Earth, Wind and Fire, Tony Bennett, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Beach Boys, Jewel, and Broadway legends such as Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Morrison and Leslie Odom Jr.

As part of the educational outreach mission of the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the festival education events offered three sessions of Pro-Am Clinics, in which Utah Symphony members coached 49 area community orchestra musicians and music students from Park City High School in strings, woodwinds, and brass sections.  Over the course of the 2016-17 academic year, Summit County school participation in Utah Symphony | Utah Opera education programs totaled 1,710 students and 85 teachers from nine schools.

But what has been more telling is the explosive growth that has seen audience numbers increase by 80 percent since the festival’s inception back in 2003 – even the last 2017 season reported a ticket sales increase of 25 percent from the previous year. The festival began under the direction of Utah Symphony Music Director Keith Lockhart and Utah Symphony & Opera President & CEO Anne Ewers.

And the resulting economic indicators illustrate the positive impact of the festival on boosting the region’s local economy as it continues to attract concertgoers from outside the area in search of the outdoor orchestral experience. Of more than 47,000 tickets distributed during the 2017 season, 78 percent went to non-Summit County residents, the majority of whom resided in Salt Lake, Utah, and Davis counties.

These festival patrons continue to boost the Summit County tourist economy through activities surrounding their concert attendance. Of the respondents to a 2017 post-festival survey, 87 percent indicated that they had eaten at a Summit County restaurant in conjunction with a DVMF concert, 64 percent went shopping, 48 percent visited Park City’s historic Main Street, and 17 percent visited the Utah Olympic Park.

What does the continued growth trajectory and exciting future mean for the 15th anniversary of the festival? A hootenanny “Barn Bash” of epic proportions is being planned at Blue Sky Ranch in celebration of 15 years of summer music in the mountains. The Western-themed fundraiser will feature a musical performance by American country group, Asleep at the Wheel. For more information or to purchase a ticket, please contact Heather Weinstock at 801.869.9011 or email her at vipevents@usuo.org.

For more information, visit our website here.

As a resident of Park City, Director of Communications Renée Huang first fell in love with summer in the mountains while attending Deer Valley Music Festival outdoor orchestra concerts. As the festival celebrates its 15 year anniversary in 2018, she takes a look at the growth and impact it has had on the local economy.

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Pre-concert Rituals: Boris Giltburg

Professional 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 asked two of our guest artists to share what pre-concert rituals help keep them grounded.

It would be so cool to have a formula that would guarantee you a good performance! No stress, no worries, just do a) b) c) and d) and you’re fresh and in top shape, every single time. (That might sound a little boring, but, oh, it would be such a hard thing to refuse). Unfortunately, despite dreaming of such a formula for years and thinking, multiple times, that I’ve stumbled on it, I haven’t really. The closest I came is finding that there is—perhaps!—a formula, one that would work for one specific day and one specific performance. But how to find it, without the help of hindsight or a personal coach?

An afternoon nap is good—unless you wake up with a heavy head. A relaxing walk to take your mind off the performance is good—unless you’re so excited that your brain seems to contain ten Energizer Bunnies who wouldn’t stay quiet. Even the bowl of pasta you always swear by («slow-burn energy!») may find itself sitting uneasily in your stomach next to the superfluous pannacotta, both not quite helping concentration. Or you may be in a country where no serious food is to be found at all between 2:30 PM (when you’re still rehearsing) and 7 PM (by which time you’re already warming up backstage, your heart so thumping with adrenaline that no thought of even a sandwich would dare to encroach). Even practicing—the most obvious thing to do—can sometimes reach a point at which it’s more beneficial to close the lid of the piano and go outside for some fresh air.

So, a concert day might be a combination of some (or all) of the above—but the moment of going onstage and playing for the audience is the highest point of the day, guaranteed, and with no formula needed.

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Pre-concert rituals: Stephen Hough

Professional 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. Pianist, polymath, and Renaissance man, Stephen Hough gives us a peek into how he prepares for a show.

On the day of a concert, I have morning practice from about 10:30 to 1 PM. Then a substantial lunch, sushi is a favorite, and if a pudding is irresistible only a bite (or two). Then a walk, ideally somewhere where the spirit can soar, so a park, a museum, a surging cityscape. Then a nap, bedclothes thrown back, as if nighttime with the curtains firmly closed, phones unplugged, pillows fluffed, and unconsciousness for at least an hour. I set the alarm clock and at about two hours before the concert, I am out of bed. Then, with the kettle on, I travel with my own and the best tea bags I can find. I also usually just eat half a cookie to lift the mood a little. I Shower at full throttle–it takes the same time to brew a cup of tea as it does to wash your hair. I sip my mug of strong tea as I check emails. Then, dressed, I head over to the hall. I like to arrive about an hour before I’m due onstage. I like gentle, calm backstage practicing, most often on pieces other than the ones I’m playing that night. Then into concert clothes about ten minutes before going out from the wings. I hear the applause as I am bowing, then sitting on the bench, adjusting the stool, deep breath and…hands to keys, which is why I’m there in the first place.

But then there are the occasions when none of the above is possible. And, strangely, those are often the best concerts. Ah, the frustration and joy of the glorious unpredictability of being human!

Learn more about this amazing pianist in this video!

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Pre-concert rituals: Conrad Tao

Professional 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. Pianist and all-around creative genius, Conrad Tao, tells us about his pre-concert rituals in the best way he knows how: with poetry.

I’m still figuring out my pre-concert ritual.

#1

Are you frightened of
Ninety minutes
Three varieties
Lots of water
green room coffee and the
archetypal banana

#2

Last fall I got stuck in an elevator. This was in Ottawa, on a show day with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, a matinee on which I was performing two concerti, one by Schumann and one by Beethoven (the Emperor), and this was just past noon, after morning rehearsal and a mediocre lunch from a place whose name I don’t recall and this is all to say that I was looking forward to getting a half hour or so of silence in my hotel room, before changing into concert dress. The hotel elevator was about a half of a floor away from my floor when it kachunked into stillness. I loved every one of the fifty minutes I spent in that elevator. I was glad I was alone. I was so thoroughly tickled by this less-orthodox iteration of my usual preconcert enforcement of silence. I would not have been good company for someone with claustrophobia.

#3

As an apology the hotel brought me a fruit basket

This story will I be remembering slightly with a position of “this is why,” perceived

origin perhaps, because I don’t like going through the motions, that much is true

But I mourn the absence of ritual in my life at the risk of careless romanticizing

and sometimes I wonder if I don’t have enough discipline

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A Russian, a Michiganian and a Salt Lake native

It sounds like the punchline to a joke but Utah Symphony’s three new violins really do hail from vastly different places. Director of Communications Renée Huang (who herself comes from Toronto, Canada) sat down with the newest members of the violin section to learn about the journeys that brought them to Salt Lake City.

Evgenia Zharazhavskaya, Assistant Principal Second Violin

BACKGROUND: I was born and spent most of my life in St. Petersburg, Russia. I started my musical education playing piano at a very early age and then switched to violin when I was 6. I entered the Rimsky-Korsakov School of music the same year and later continued my studies at the St. Petersburg state conservatory where I got my Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. While still at the conservatory I won a position with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. I also took part in numerous music festivals including Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany, Verbier Festival in Switzerland, Gustav Mahler Academy in Italy and Miyazaki Festival in Japan. I moved to Florida in 2010 to study with Elmar Oliveira at Lynn University Conservatory of Music. In 2014 I won full-time substitute position with Houston symphony where I played for three full seasons and in April of 2017, I won my Assistant Principal Second position in Utah Symphony. I am currently 34 years old and don’t have any siblings.

WHY UTAH SYMPHONY? I was drawn to the distinguished sound of the orchestra, great community, and beauty of Utah.

HOBBIES: I like nature very much so I am very happy to have an excellent opportunity to explore the unbelievable beauty of Utah. I like baking, biking, hiking, reading, dancing salsa, learning self-defense with Krav Maga and spending time with my dear husband and friends.

Bonnie Terry, Section First Violin

BACKGROUND: I was born and raised here in Salt Lake City. I started violin when I was six and studied with Kris Palmer and Hiroko Primrose. When I was ten, I had the opportunity to solo with the Utah Symphony under the direction of Joseph Silverstein on the annual Salute to Youth Concert. I left home at age 12 to study violin at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City and then attended high school in Michigan where I graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy. I did, however, spend one year of HS here at West High (Go, Panthers!) where I sang in the Chorale and A Capella, and studied violin with Gerald Elias, then associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. I received my Bachelor’s degree and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY where I studied with William Preucil (concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and a former concertmaster of the Utah Symphony), and Master’s Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where I was also a Preucil student. Following grad school, I spent a year as a fellow with the New World Symphony in Florida. From there I moved to Tucson, Arizona for three years where I was the concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and taught violin at the University of Arizona. I also spent a year in Charlottesville, VA teaching at the University of Virginia. For the last ten years, I have lived in San Antonio, TX as the Associate Concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony. I have spent the last fourteen summers in Chicago playing with the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra.

WHY UTAH SYMPHONY? I moved here to be closer to my family and because I grew up watching the Utah Symphony play! I couldn’t be happier to be back in the Motherland! My parents, older brother, and younger sister also live and grew up here. My sister plays the violin and is a dance teacher, and my brother plays piano and trumpet.

HOBBIES: I love to sing, dance (danced as a member of the Children’s Dance Theater from age 4-17), attend SLAC plays, RDT and Ririe Woodbury concerts, hang out with friends and family.

Hannah Linz, Section Second Violin

BACKGROUND: I grew up in a musical family as the youngest of four children in Okemos, Michigan. I began playing the violin at age 3 and the piano at age 5. After having won competitions for solo playing and chamber music, as well as attending summer music programs, I went on to pursue a degree in violin performance at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying privately with Ik-Hwan Bae, Jorja Fleezanis, and Alexander Kerr.

WHY UTAH SYMPHONY? I am joining the Utah Symphony after having performed with the Dallas Symphony for two seasons as a Jaap van Zweden Scholar, and as a substitute member of The Philadelphia Orchestra. I am thrilled to join the Utah Symphony not only because it is a great orchestra with a fantastic music director, but I also enjoy the incredible natural beauty that this state has to offer. I am excited to get to know Utah and explore this gorgeous state.

HOBBIES: In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, and watching movies.

The author, Renee Huang is the Director of Public Relations.

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Pre-concert Rituals: William Hagen

Professional 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. Here is what violinist and Utah native William Hagen had to say about his.

William Hagen, violin

My first instinct, when asked about a pre-concert ritual or routine, is to say that I have none, or that I’m still working on figuring out what mine is. However, I realize that there are two things that I do very consistently on concert days; the first is to make sure that I have reasonably good blood sugar when I walk on stage. I have Type 1 Diabetes, so I have to be aware of what’s going on with my body before a concert. To lower the risk of high or low blood sugar, I try to stick to low-carb food and I try not to eat 3-4 hours before a concert—this simplifies things and makes my blood sugar more stable and predictable. The second part of my routine is to make sure that I have no wardrobe malfunctions – there are many components of a tux that can go awry. Actually, there are many components of any kind of concert garb that can go (and have gone) awry. I’ve heard stories about people walking on stage in a suave tux, everything in order, only to look down for a moment to find that they are wearing white sneakers. What a performer is wearing really doesn’t matter too much to me, because the main focus should be the music, but a wardrobe malfunction can turn into a major distraction. It’s hard to take someone completely seriously when their fly’s down.

See William Hagen in Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances November 3-4, 2017 here.

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Pre-concert Rituals: Patricia Kopatchinskaja

Patricia Kopatchinskaja Photo: Marco Borggreve

Professional 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. Here is what Patricia Kopatchinskaja who will perform with us in Fischer conducts Beethoven’s Fifth had to say about her pre-concert ritual.

The performing artist has to present a work of art. Her duty is to give this work the maximum of impact. To achieve this, the performer has to channel all her energies, all her talents, power, and personality into this performance. One could say that the performer has somehow to ‘become’ the piece.

Of course, the performer has to know the piece: its score, its history. She has to have the technique ready, which is the task of a lifetime. But most important is to carry in her heart and mind — her very personal and unrepeatable vision of the piece.

On performance day I try to avoid any distraction: no telephones, no visits, no interviews, no photo sessions, no bad news. On a nice day after breakfast I might jog outside for half an hour and then I might practice perhaps for half an hour, but one never should expend too much energy because it will be needed in the evening. The most important is the nap in the afternoon. There will perhaps be a stage or a microphone rehearsal but normally I just stay in the artist room and concentrate. I cannot eat before concerts, but I need half a banana and something to drink. And then I am ready for battle…

See what else Patricia had to say about her work here.

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Q & A with Brian Stokes Mitchell

Brian Stokes Mitchell performs with the Utah Symphony

Broadway’s Brian Stokes Mitchell with Utah Symphony PR Director Renee Huang.

Brian Stokes Mitchell is no stranger to Utah. He’s performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Conference Center during their holiday show, and has skied at the majority of resorts here in search of the perfect snow. This weekend, November 1 and 2 at Abravanel Hall, he presents the first pops concert of Utah Symphony’s season with Principal Pops Conductor Jerry Steichen, and he sat down to talk with us about kids, food and life.

Your birthday falls on Halloween – did you love it or hate it as a child?
“As a child, I loved having my birthday fall on Halloween. It was the best day ever. I used to call it “the perfect day to be born” because it was the one day adults would dress up like and act like kids.”

When did you first know you wanted to be a performer?
It wasn’t until I was 14 years old and playing a role in Bye Bye Birdie with San Diego Junior Theater that something clicked. It was my first time performing as an actor because I had previously been the pianist in the family. The reaction was very unusual and powerful – I remember people coming up to me and saying, “This is something you should pursue.”

What do you love most about performing?
“I get to do what I love, and it’s a very positive thing. Making people happy through music is very rewarding. I couldn’t choose my favorite role or song to perform because there are so many subtle ways that make them perfect in different settings. I have enough material to do 50 different performances. But I love what I do because these pops concerts allow me to select the best of the best and share my absolute favorites with the audience.”

What is your favorite food?
“I eat a lot of seafood. It’s what I love. I also love restaurants that serve sustainably sourced food. One of the best meals of my life was at a place called Fork in Boise, ID of all places.”

What interests do you have off stage?
“I spend a lot of time with my family, but I keep very busy with recording, song writing, producing. For the past decade, I’ve also been the chairman of the board for a non-profit charity called Actors Fund that serves performing arts and entertainment professionals.”

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Costumes Galore at A Superhero Halloween

A Superhero Halloween A Superhero Halloween A Superhero Halloween

It was a sold out show at Tuesday evening’s Superhero Halloween concert at Abravanel Hall, which drew a menagerie of caped crusaders and other assorted creatures from storybooks and pop culture. Associate conductor Vladamir Kulenovic led the Utah Symphony in an epic show that featured well-known selections from iconic symphonic superhero repertoire such as Richard Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries, John William’s iconic themes to Star Wars, Hook and Superman, and Danny Elfman’s music for Batman and Spider-Man.

But it might have been the 23rd annual costume contest prior to the concert that stole the show. This year, community partners including KSL NewsRadio, Salt Lake City Comic Con, Utah Museum of Natural History, Geek Show podcast and The Leonardo have donated multiple prizes for each of the four costume contest categories: adult, child, group and symphony member. Prizes include VIP weekend passes to 2014 Salt Lake City Comic Con, as well as family passes to The Leonardo, Clark Planetarium, Thanksgiving Point, Utah Museum of Natural History, Tracy Aviary, and various gift cards.

 A Superhero Halloween A Superhero Halloween

A steady stream of costumed participants paraded past guest judges Amy Iverson and Jay McFarland, co-hosts of The Browser on KSL NewsRadio, Bryan Brandenburg, VP of Marketing for SLC Comic Con and Tony Eccles, Geek Show producer.

Favorite costumes included a pink and frilly jellyfish, the Yip Yips of Sesame Street fame, the Avengers, the Wizard of Oz, Mona Lisa and her Leonardo Da Vinci, and the Nightmare Before Christmas. Not only did more than 150 people turn up decked out in their best costumes, the orchestra members also got in on the action.

The percussion section won first place as the Blue Man Group, oboe player Bob Stephenson won second place as a tornado, and second violinist Julie Wunderle was third as Smurfette. Of memorable mention was the entire brass section, who dressed as grey haired grannies, and the bassoon section, who came as “the three Leons” in honor of associate principal bassoon Leon Chodos, who himself came dressed as a caveman.

Winning prizes included VIP Multi-day passes to Salt Lake Comic Con 2014, passes to Natural History Museum of Utah, The Leonardo, Tracy Aviary and pair of tickets to four future Utah Symphony | Utah Opera performances this season.

A Superhero Halloween A Superhero Halloween A Superhero Halloween

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