Musicians of the Utah Symphony in Haiti

You may be aware that the Musicians of the Utah Symphony have recently started a new educational outreach effort in Haiti. The origin story of the Haitian National Orchestra Institute (HNOI) has to do with the longtime friendship between Utah Symphony cellist John Eckstein, and BLUME Haiti (Building Leaders Using Music Education) president Janet Anthony. In short, 17 Musicians of the Utah Symphony and Maestro Thierry Fischer traveled to Cap Haitien in late March 2018 for the second annual HNOI.

One hundred of the most advanced musicians from throughout Haiti were selected by audition to form an orchestra, and experience an intense week filled with private and group lessons, sectionals and full orchestra rehearsals. The Institute culminated in an inspired performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 led by our very own Maestro Fischer. This year, in an effort to chronicle our project, we brought a film crew.

Working with our students, who mainly speak Haitian Creole and French, we used all of our nonverbal communication skills. Our HNOI students, often the music teachers in their own communities, were very hungry to learn. Meeting other music students from other regions of Haiti for the first time, they seemed to thrive on the excitement and creative energy all around them. The students also realized the significance of working with a conductor of international stature, and professional orchestral musicians working directly with small groups. But the learning occurred both ways. It opened our eyes on so many levels, and the Utah Symphony musicians who participated have kept in touch with their new friends in Haiti via social media, and look forward to the next time we can work together.

I’m constantly amazed at what an astounding organism an orchestra is. Sometimes the violin section (my point of view) seems like a school of fish that can change direction with a collective mind of its own. The nonverbal communication between conductor and orchestra, and among musicians, feels almost like magic. Stand partners (two violinists who share one music stand) because of our proximity, can pick up on each other’s energy and at the same time feel the intention coming from all points of the stage. The more advanced the orchestra, the clearer our communication. I’m sure that some of our audience members amuse themselves by watching all of the complex interactions occurring during a performance. It is a wonderful thing when a large group of people can come together with a common purpose, perhaps a metaphor for society.

In Haiti, a place so near and yet so far removed from the comforts we take for granted, we were moved by the joyful, eager, and talented students. This effort has become a passion for John and myself, and we feel very fortunate to be able to bring together these dedicated Haitian students with our outstanding friends and colleagues in the Utah Symphony. Recruiting our colleagues was extremely easy both years, even though they volunteer their time and pay most of their own travel expenses. Upon hearing of our plan to create an outreach effort in Haiti, Maestro Thierry Fischer immediately volunteered to come and conduct. Suddenly everything had fallen into place better than we could have ever imagined. Much planning and fundraising led to the first-ever HNOI, which took place in March 2017 in the seaside town of Jacmel. Its resounding success has been enough to fuel our continued passion for this initiative.

Maestro Fischer put it well when being interviewed about the significance of the Haiti project, pointing out that “involvement in the arts makes life better and worth living, and music has as much of a place in a struggling rural village as in a thriving cultural city… it gives us the chance to see the beauty of the collective and to move away from being just an individual even for a moment.” I wholeheartedly agree. Sharing music, whether it be at Abravanel Hall, or in some unexpected environment such as Dinosaur National Monument, or Haiti is vital and miraculous.

Violinist Yuki MacQueen joined the Utah Symphony in June 2000. When not playing in the symphony or volunteering in Haiti, she enjoys playing chamber music, baking sweets, and traveling the world.

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!

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.

Song Cycle: A playlist by Madeline Adkins

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably addicted to finding new music. To help you satisfy your thirst for great music, this series of articles is dedicated to the people who know music best: the musicians of our orchestra. Keep reading to learn more and listen to concertmaster Madeline Adkins’ curated playlist inspired by the Korngold Violin Concerto which she will perform on May 25-26, 2018:

My Spotify playlist is an intro to the Korngold Violin Concerto and also a few of my personal influences! Firstly, I’ve included a few other works by Korngold himself. The very first track from the Prince and the Pauper prominently features in the violin concerto—you will be sure to recognize it! I include the main titles from Captain Blood and Robin Hood, for which Korngold won an Oscar. Also, music from his composition The Snowman, his Much Ado About Nothing suite, and a Suite for 2 Violins, Cello, and Piano Left Hand.

Korngold’s early influences included Zemlinsky, Wagner, and Mahler, but he came into the public consciousness mainly through his film scores. He came to Hollywood in the 30’s to escape wartime Europe and wrote a number of notable film scores including Robin Hood and Captain Blood. He returned to “art music” after the war, at which time his violin concerto was premiered by Jascha Heifetz in 1947.

I included a number of other prominent classical pieces from that time that have been incorporated in movies, such as Ravel’s Piano Concerto, Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No. 2, and the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. You’ll also hear a violin concerto by Louis Gruenberg, another film composer whose concerto was also premiered by Jascha Heifetz, as well as a Bernard Herrmann classic from Taxi Driver.

The last five tracks are the getting-to-know-me section. As far as my personal influences, my dad was a prominent historical performance scholar, so I grew up well versed in Baroque music. Included here: Rachel Podger’s sublime interpretation of Biber’s Passacaglia.

I grew up in a jazz town (Denton, Texas) so Frank Sinatra is non-negotiable.  Before concerts, I love to get energized with my disco playlist… hence the Parliament.

One of my earlier classical influences was my first six years in the Baltimore Symphony when Yuri Temirkanov was the music director. I include a quintessential YT track of Prokofiev (also, not insignificantly, one of my two favorite composers!)

Finally, a track from my first commercial release my other favorite composer: Mendelssohn. This is an unpublished sonata movement I found in a Berlin archive!

Enjoy and I hope to see you at Season Finale: Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 on May 25th and 26th!

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

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.

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.

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:

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:

2018-19 Films in Concert Series

What’s better than watching your favorite movie with your friends and family? Watching your favorite movie while its iconic soundtrack is played live by an orchestra! The 2018-19 Films in Concert series will take you on five musical adventures.

Who ya gonna call? The original Ghostbusters tells the story of a team of scientists who lose their cushy jobs at Columbia University and wage a high-tech battle against the supernatural. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension—a doorway that releases evil upon the city. They’re New York City’s only hope against complete destruction!

From the moment Harry uses The Marauder’s Map to when the Patronus charm bursts from his wand, you’ll be transported back into the world you love.

Relive the magic of your favorite wizard in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert. Based on the third installment of J.K. Rowling’s classic saga, fans of all ages can now experience the thrilling tale accompanied by John Williams’ score performed live as Harry soars across the big screen.

Here’s looking at you, kid. Let Casablanca transport you to Morocco where Rick (Humphrey Bogart) struggles to do what is right for himself, and for his long-lost love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Watch the drama unfold as we perform Max Steiner’s moving score live while the entire film plays on the big screen.

Luke Skywalker begins a journey that will change the galaxy as he joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookie, and two droids to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Empire and learn the ways of the Force. Don’t miss Star Wars: A New Hope in concert, where we’ll be performing John Williams’s Oscar-winning score live while the full-length film plays on the big screen.

Get ready to fight a dragon, swim with merpeople, and find out just who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire™! The Triwizard Tournament comes to Hogwarts™ in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert with the Utah Symphony. Relive the magic of Harry Potter™ soaring across the big screen in high-definition and experience the music as we perform Patrick Doyle’s unforgettable score live to the full-length film.

Don’t miss a single moment of these incredible films! Learn more and subscribe to our Films in Concert series here.

 

Ghostbusters©1984 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
J.K. ROWLING`S WIZARDING WORLD™ J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s18)

Presentation licensed by Disney Concerts. In association with 20th Century Fox, LucasFilm and Warner/Chappell Music. © 2018 & TM LucasFilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved © Disney.