Family fun at the symphony!

When you think of family fun, what do you think of? For us, we think about our family nights at the symphony and opera! If you’ve never taken your kids to the symphony, it might seem a little daunting, but it’s absolutely worth it. A Utah family, Darrell and Marissa along with their children, had the opportunity to attend our Messiah Sing-in this year and loved it. Read on to see how much fun it was for them and their kids.

Tells us about your family.

We are Darrell and Marissa, and we have 4 children Gabe (12), Sam (9), Lauren (7), and Peter (2).

As a family, we enjoy the outdoors – hiking, biking, running, camping; and we also a love for music. All three of our older children play the piano, as well as their mother. As teenagers, both Marissa and I sang in a choir for 5+ plus years. Music is always being played or listened to in our home.

What concert did you attend?

The Messiah Sing-in concert. It was great to have such great seats for the kids to sit and enjoy the concert. It was great to be able to sing along with the choir on the specific choral pieces. After singing it in high school, Marissa and I forgot how quickly it moves along! It was great for the kids to participate in something so synonymous with the holiday season!

How did you enjoy the performance?

We loved the performance! Great way to start off the holiday season. Our kids also loved it. A couple of the songs were familiar to them but it was good for them to be able to hear the entire Messiah. They were amazed at how thick the book was to it.

As a parent, what was the biggest benefit to taking your kids to the symphony?

The biggest benefit of taking kids to the symphony is to expose them to and have them appreciate classical music—music that has been around for centuries and will be around for centuries more. Everyone should know what the classics are. Taking my children to these types of events also helps them to understand how to act differently, if you will, more appropriately during such events. Helps them know what is respect and how to show it.

Would you ever take them to the symphony again?

Yes, we would take our kids to the symphony again! Because they are all taking music from a teacher, this just gives them one more opportunity to learn more about music and how it affects our lives.

If your idea of fun is a night out at the symphony, learn more about Family Nights and our special family pricing here!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

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.


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


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.


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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Everything you need to know about taking your kids to the symphony

There’s no better feeling than being your kid’s hero—and you can cement your coolness for years to come by taking them to the symphony! Live, classical music can be a wonderful and moving way to bond with your children, and it will give them a memorable experience.

Feeling uncertain about taking your family to the symphony? It’s easier than you think! Here’s what you need to know and how you can make going to the symphony an experience your children will never forget:

Kids 5-18 can come to Utah Symphony performances!

Children as young as FIVE can enjoy our Masterworks symphonies, Entertainment concerts, and our new Films in Concert series. Our Family matinee concerts are still open to everyone (including babies).

You might think taking your kids to our world-class symphonies would be pretty daunting financially. But we are now offering special pricing for families. Look for designated “Family Nights” which offer a $30 Family Pass (for a family of four with a max of two adults). You can add up to six additional youth tickets onto your pass for $5 each.

Prepare for the piece you’re going to see

Classical music is always more exciting when you know everything about it! Take some time to look up articles and YouTube videos about the repertoire with your kids before you go. You can even download a playlist and play it while you’re taking your kids to school in the morning so they are more familiar with the work.

Music was meant to be fun! Try dancing or singing to the piece before you attend. You can also make a game of it by listening to the different instruments and pointing out what animals the music sounds like, or what story the music would tell if it could talk.

We suggest doing some research ahead of time to decide if a particular concert is something you’re comfortable taking your kids to. You can also call our ticket office at 801-533-6683 for more information on what to expect at any given concert.

Practice “going to the symphony” with your children

Sometimes taking your kids out of the house can be stressful. Will they sit still? Will they want to talk the whole time or kick the chair in front of them? These are all valid concerns, but you can definitely get some peace of mind if you practice the concert-going experience beforehand.

Try practicing what it’s like going to the concert hall—standing in line, taking tickets, finding your seat, knowing when to clap. You can cast family members to be ticket-takers, orchestra members, and ushers to make it more fun. This is an entertaining way to prepare your family for going to the concert hall for the first time, and it will minimize surprises when you get there.

Make a plan

A night out with the kids should be a memorable, enjoyable experience! To reduce potential stress, make a plan for your concert experience.  Of course you’ll want to pick out what you want to wear (you can go in whatever you were already wearing or dress up if you want) or where you want to eat beforehand (you can see some suggestions here), but you’ll also want to know the ins and outs of Abravanel Hall and the concert.

All of our regular concerts have a 20-minute intermission in the performance. This is a great time to take a bathroom break, grab a snack at the concession stand, or just walk around to get the wiggles out before settling back into your seat. Sometimes a full-length symphony is simply too much for a young, sleepy child to get through. If you need to leave for any reason, the intermission would be the best option to call it a night.

If your child has never attended an orchestra performance before and you are concerned about your child sitting through the concert without disrupting others, ask to be seated near a door or towards the back of the venue when you purchase your tickets so you can make a quick exit to the lobby if needed. There are large video screens that broadcast the performance in the lobby if you would prefer to view it out there.

We recommend arriving 30 minutes before the start of the performance. Sometimes traffic is heavy around Abravanel Hall (especially during the holiday season or a large convention), so you might consider leaving earlier than you think you need to. The best place to park is City Creek Center, or you can take the TRAX train to the “Temple Square” stop, which lets you off in front of the Abravanel Hall ticket office.

Ask them what they liked about the performance afterward

The symphony can be an enchanting experience for a kid! Don’t miss a single, magical moment of their experience—ask them what their favorite part of the concert was or what instrument they liked most. You’ll be amazed at how much they enjoyed it—they may even ask to come again!

Be sure to get your tickets to a Family Night! You can see our upcoming shows here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

RECAP: Carnival of the Animals

Who knew classical music could get so wild? Camille Saint-Saëns had a gift for telling narratives through music, and if you went to Louis Lortie performs Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2, you probably noticed the jungle of sounds from Carnival of the Animals.

We slithered into the rehearsal of this lush work to capture some of the best moments! Listen to each one to see if you can hear these incredible beasts.

There’s something fishy about this glittery piece of music! Which animal does this remind you of?

Cuckoo! Which bird does this song remind you of?

Is there anything more romantic than this swan song?

Which beautiful lumbering beast do you think this elegant waltz was written for?

This song tickles our funny bone! You can hear the musical tapping of bones in this piece about fossils.

Can you imagine turtles doing the cancan? Camille Saint-Saëns could!

No musical menagerie would be complete without an aviary.

BONUS VIDEO: During this rehearsal, we caught a glimpse of Saint-Saëns’ regal Symphony in F Major. Take a look at it here.


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Weekend review: Saint-Saëns’ “Organ” Symphony

We don’t expect this weekend to be boring. In addition to performing (and recording!) Saint-Saëns’ “Organ” Symphony, we have an incredible guest appearance by Paul Jacobs, the only organ player to date to ever receive a Grammy Award for his work.

Prepare for this weekend by listening to this Classical 89 broadcast:

You can also learn more about Paul Jacobs and this performance from this article from the Deseret News:

It’s been 17 years since Paul Jacobs expressed his passion for the organ through an unparalleled feat: playing nonstop for 18 hours.

Well, he did take a few minutes here and there to drink some water and eat a cup of chocolate pudding.

But the remaining 17 hours and change were devoted to performing the complete organ works of J.S. Bach — Jacobs’ way of commemorating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death.

The event took place the summer following his last year as an undergraduate student at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, where all students are accepted on full scholarship. Of his own will, Jacobs tirelessly performed a concert that kicked off at 6 a.m. and ended shortly after midnight.

“I think anybody would think it was crazy, and I’m not sure I would ever attempt this again, but I’m so glad when I was that age that I decided to proceed with the idea because the music was the sustenance carrying me through the day,” Jacobs said in a recent interview. “Scores of people were introduced to the organ music of Bach. … It gave me the energy and resilience so much so that I was unaware of any fatigue until the conclusion of the performance. The spiritual force of the music sustained me.”

Get your tickets for this weekend’s concert here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Staff Picks: Rachel Campbell

Not sure what symphony performance you want to see next? Take a look at what shows our staff—the people who live and die by classical music—would recommend for you! You’ll even get an idea of how to make a night of going to the symphony. This week we’re featuring Rachel Campbell’s picks for the upcoming months. She has a passion for all things Broadway, and loves our entertainment series.

What do you do?

I’m Rachel Campbell, the Patron Loyalty Marketing Manager. I’m in charge of building relationships with our patrons and sending them emails and communication of upcoming shows that might interest them.

Which performance are you most looking forward to and why?

I’m so excited for Dancing & Romancing! I grew up watching all the classic dance movies with my mom and grandma. The dance scenes were always epic… the guy and girl were always in the best costumes, the music started up and there was no need for talking because the music and the dancing said it all.  So, of course, my date to the show will be my mom because she introduced me to all the classics like Funny Face, Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris.

This is part of our Entertainment Series (to which you can buy a subscription here) which is great for anyone who loves Broadway musicals! We’ve had a lot of fun concerts this year like Broadway Divas, and we have some others coming up like A Broadway Christmas with Brian Stokes Mitchell.

What do you recommend doing before or after the show?

I love to go to dinner before the show, that way I can catch up with the person I’m going with. There are so many restaurants in the downtown area, I like to try a new one each week. But my go-to favorite restaurant to go to is Sawadee or Blue Lemon if I’m short on time. After we’ve filled up, all I have to do sit back and enjoy the show!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Staff Picks: Hillary Hahn and Jeff Counts

Not sure what symphony performance you want to see next? Take a look at what shows our staff—the people who live and die by classical music—would recommend for you! You’ll even get an idea of how to make a night of going to the symphony. This week we’re featuring Hillary Hahn and Jeff Counts’ picks for the upcoming months.

What do you both do?

We are the Senior Director of Institutional Gifts and the General Manager. Hillary works with Corporations, Foundations, and Government organizations to support all the wonderful programs that USUO offers. She also plays the violin, and you’ll occasionally see her playing in the orchestra as a substitute musician! Jeff runs the day-to-day operations of the symphony, and he and his team are responsible for the effortless-feeling performances.

Which performance are you most looking forward to and why?

The Hilary Hahn plays Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, of course! We’ll bring ‘our’ Hillary Hahn’s violin students with us. We always try to invite them to see the great soloists that perform with the orchestra. Augustin Hadelich and Will Hagen were already highlights for them and we know Hilary will be too. As former educators ourselves, we have always appreciated how committed Hilary is to interacting with young people and advocating for the arts in every community she visits.

What do you recommend doing before or after the show?

We don’t always get to see each other before or after concerts because our jobs here are so different, but, if we were patrons, we would definitely go out for a drink and a bite afterward. Salt Lake continues to add interesting post-concert options around Abravanel Hall (this wasn’t always the case!) and our favorites include BTG, Lake Effect, Under Current, Squatters…the list is getting longer each year! Before the show, we enjoy getting sushi at Happy Sumo, grabbing some pasta at Caffé Molise or working our way down Main Street to try the many new great places there. Downtown starts to quiet down a bit after the holidays so it’s nice to take a walk if it isn’t too cold!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

20 questions with Conner Gray Covington

The Utah Symphony orchestra is like a family—so naturally, we want to know everything we can when we get a new addition. Conner Gray Covington is our new Assistant Conductor, and it’s his first season with us. He took the time to answer a flurry of questions—here’s what he had to tell us:

What instrument do you play?

Violin and a little bit of piano.

Where did you study?

The University of Texas at Arlington, the Eastman School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music.

Who’s your favorite composer?

I can never choose one, but a few are Mozart, Dvorak, and Richard Strauss (and I’m still leaving off SO many).

What’s your favorite movie?

I really like Shine with Geoffrey Rush. Also, To Kill a Mockingbird is a real classic. Gregory Peck was amazing.

What music are you listening to currently?

It changes constantly. However, the past year or so, I’ve been very interested in old recordings of standard orchestral and operatic repertoire. For instance, I was listening to several recordings the other day of the Prelude to Act I of Wagner’s Lohengrin. I came across some great performances conducted by Abbado, Furtwängler, and Maazel. They were all very different but very beautiful in their own way.

What’s your favorite color?

Growing up it was always blue, but somedays I feel like I prefer green. I guess it depends on my mood.

Favorite thing to do on the weekend?

I love sleeping in and having a big breakfast.

Cat person or dog person?

I love all animals, but I’m more of a dog person.

Favorite thing about Utah?

The mountains! And of course, skiing in them.

Favorite place to eat in Utah?

I haven’t been to too many places yet, but the Red Iguana is pretty incredible. I lived in Texas for 6 years, so I feel like I have very high standards for good Mexican food. The Red Iguana definitely meets and surpasses those standards.

What are you most excited to conduct this year?

I’m excited about a lot of programs, but I might be most excited about the Messiah Sing-in. This will be my first opportunity to conduct the whole piece, and it is such a masterpiece!

Biggest pet peeve?

Definitely wasted time or when I feel like someone is wasting other peoples’ time because of a lack of preparation

What do you miss the most about your hometown?

Probably the mountains. I grew up in east Tennessee near the Smokey Mountains. They are definitely not as imposing or striking as the Rockies, but there is a real peacefulness to them.

 What is one thing that you can’t live without?

The opportunity to spend time outdoors and in nature.

If you had to play a different instrument, what would it be?

Definitely the cello. If I could go back, that’s the instrument I would pick.

If you could have any other non-musical job in the world, what would it be?

I would probably be a lawyer. I think I would find Constitutional law particularly fascinating. Also, I love to argue!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m actually a pretty decent cook. I grew up watching the Food Network a lot.

You can only eat one food for the rest of your life—what is it?

Probably potato chips.

You’re stranded indefinitely on a desert island and you can only bring three books to keep you entertained—what are they?

The Count of Monte Cristo, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and something by Shakespeare (perhaps Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet).

If you were to win an Olympic gold medal, which sport would it be for?

Probably the 5,000-meter run. I used to be a pretty decent distance runner in middle school and high school. Either that or downhill skiing.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

PREVIEW: Louis Lortie performs Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2

If you come to our upcoming concerts of Louis Lortie performs Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2, you won’t be able to deny that our soloist has a flurry of flair on the piano. His nimble-fingered finesse will leave you awestruck—and if you don’t believe us, take a look at this video of him playing Chopin here:

In this concert he will be performing Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Preview the music in this video.

You won’t want to miss Louis Lortie and his magical mastery of the piano. Get your tickets for Louis Lortie performs Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

REVIEW: Mahler Symphony No. 8

The Christian Review published a list of “Eight Recordings for Christmas” in which they give our Mahler Symphony No. 8 a glowing review:

Mahler 8th Symphony, conducted by Thierry Fischer, Utah Symphony, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and soloists, is exceptional, among the best 8ths I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard most of them. The soloists are first class, especially the tenor, Barry Banks, meeting all the challenges of the score. One expects the [Mormon Tabernacle Choir] to be great but here they surpass themselves, heaped greatly by the RR engineers. Thierry Fischer has a marvelous feel for Mahler and delivers at every step of the way. The finale is appropriately overwhelming, but few recordings actually pack the kind of punch the composer imagined. Repeated hearings may lead me to say this is the best of all.” (Read the entire review here)

The recording is available now and will make a perfect present for the music lover in your life. Order it through us here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone