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.

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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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Contemporary music and the modern American orchestra

Composer Andrew Norman.

As the Utah Symphony closes out its 2017-18 season and we begin to look ahead to the 2018-19 season, it’s hard to miss this organization’s commitment to presenting contemporary music alongside well-known favorites from the Western Canon. Beside familiar figures like Beethoven, Chopin, Copland, and Richard Strauss are newer, more unfamiliar names, like Vivian Fung, Joan Tower, Zhou Tian, and Andrew Norman (who happens to be our composer-in-association next season). One of Music Director Thierry Fischer’s favorite sayings is “a symphony is not a museum,” and presenting and commissioning new music is an integral part of this belief.

Orchestral music is a living, breathing art form. While the focus of most orchestras’ classical seasons lies in the heart of the most eminent 18th– through 20th-century repertoire, it is essential for the survival of the orchestral industry for modern orchestras to perpetuate the musical movements happening in the present day. If the American Orchestra is to remain a driving force in the centuries to come, we must support the composers who are creating new music now, as this body of work will one day be an essential part of our cultural legacy. To that end, the Utah Symphony commissions at least one new work each season, meaning we pay a composer to write something entirely new. The Utah Symphony often shares the full fee with co-commissioners, ensuring the work will have a life beyond our organization with other orchestras across the country and the world. As in every art form, some of these works go on to achieve great success and popularity, and others slip into obscurity. It’s a risky process given that some of the fee is usually paid before a single note is put to paper, but it is well worth the risk. Regardless of the outcome, the Utah Symphony has been instrumental in bringing a new piece of orchestral music into the world.

Incentivizing the creation of new music isn’t the only reward for an orchestra that makes commissioning a priority. Contemporary music is also able to engage with modern ideas and themes more directly than older works can. As an example, Andrew Norman’s percussion concerto Switch, which was commissioned by the Utah Symphony as part of its 75th anniversary season, takes its inspiration from video game logic, the percussion soloist starring as the unwitting protagonist. Each note he plays prompts a distinguishable reaction from the orchestra, creating a unique cause-and-effect tapestry with a modern sensibility. Next season, the Utah Symphony will feature another of Norman’s works, Play, which takes its inspiration from distinctly relevant themes. Norman himself describes the work as an exploration of “choice, chance, free will, and control, about how technology has rewired our brains and changed the ways we express ourselves, about the blurring boundaries of reality in the internet age, the murky grounds where video games and drone warfare meet, for instance, or where cyber-bullying and real-world violence converge.”

This season’s commission, to be performed on the Utah Symphony’s Season Finale concerts on May 26 and 27, comes from pioneering French composer Tristan Murail. One of the most prominent themes of this Utah Symphony season has been its study of the works of Romantic-era French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, making this commission especially relevant; Murail’s work represents the trajectory of French music from Saint-Saëns’ Romanticism and Debussy’s Impressionism into the modern era. In this work, listen for Murail’s signature use of the “spectral” technique, a compositional aesthetic developed in the 1970s. Spectral technique focuses on the color, timbre, and texture of different instruments and pitches, concentrating less on melody and rhythm and more on the acoustical science of sound. This shifting focus changes the way we as listeners engage with music, opening up a whole new world of possibilities while not entirely letting go of our musical foundations. In the words of Maestro Fischer, the Utah Symphony strives to be “an orchestra looking to the future as much as immensely enjoying the past.”

Utah Symphony Artist Logistics Coordinator Erin Lunsford takes care of the many guest artists and guest conductors that perform with the orchestra and enjoys writing about music in her spare time.

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Pre-Concert Rituals: Rainer Eudeikis

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.

The majority of my performances are as a member of the Utah Symphony, and as a result preparation for those concerts is mixed in with other elements of my daily life. On an average performance day, I sleep in as late as possible (depending on whether or not I have a morning rehearsal, or how early the dogs wake us up…), and spend the remainder of the day practicing, teaching/coaching, walking the dogs, and maybe even allowing time for some video games before getting ready to leave for the concert. 

 

This weekend’s concerts, however, are something entirely different as I’ll be sitting in front of the orchestra as a soloist…On days when I have a solo performance, I try to thin out my schedule so I can really take my time to warm up slowly and find a good place mentally during my practice. It’s easy to over-play on the day of a concert, being convinced that just a few more attempts at a difficult passage will make all the difference in performance, but I try to take it easy and trust all the work and preparation that came in the months before. 

 

Thanks to pre-concert jitters, I typically lose my appetite and I’ll barely eat all day, but I’m usually ready to feast by the end of the concert! 

 

Want to know more about what a cello does in an orchestra? Listen to Rainer’s explanation in this video:

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Three debuts. Three incredible concerts.

April is a big month for grand entrances—this month we have three marvelous musicians from all over the globe who will make their debut with us. Each of these talented artists will make an unforgettable entrance you won’t want to miss!

First on the schedule, internationally-acclaimed conductor Karina Canellakis will conduct a remarkable performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Little Russian” Symphony as well as Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Conrad Tao and Franck’s Le Chasseur maudit.

Her resume is quite impressive. In addition to being a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Juilliard School—and the winner of the 2016 George Solti Conducting Award—she is an accomplished violinist. As if that didn’t already knock your socks off, she conducted at BBC Proms last year. Watch an excerpt of her brilliant performance here:

On April 20-21 we’ll perform the Grieg Piano Concerto with Alexandra Dariescu. This Romanian pianist was recently named as ‘one of 30 pianists under 30 destined for a spectacular career’ by International Piano Magazine. In fact, her career has already been spectacular—and no doubt will only get better!

Not only is she an accomplished pianist—as we can see in this clip of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1…

… she also knows how to bring music to life! Recently, she re-interpreted the music of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and set it to choreography and animation using projection technology. You can learn more about it in the clip below:

Finally, we’ll end April with an unforgettable performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concertos No. 1 and No. 2 by Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg. He has been praised for his deep and insightful sensitivity as well as his compelling interpretations.

Don’t believe us? Watch for yourself here:

You won’t want to miss these incredible and historic debuts this month. Abravanel Hall awaits—find tickets here.

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Audra McDonald answers all your burning questions

We can barely contain our excitement for our upcoming concert with Audra McDonald! This award-winning artist in not just a great singer, but she’s an incredible actress! With millions of reasons to love her, you probably don’t need any more. But allow us to add to her long list of accomplishments: She can answer your questions in style. Just take a look at this video of her and Jimmy Fallon answering some hilarious questions from Yahoo! Answers:

Can’t wait for this concert? Get your tickets here.

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