Between the Barlines – Matthew Morrison

During the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival, the Utah Symphony has launched a weekly interview series entitled “Between the Barlines,” which seeks to reveal aspects of guest artists’ lives outside of the music for which they are known, including things such as their backgrounds, their influences, and their non-musical interests.

Known across the country for his roles on Broadway and on the national hit show Glee, Matthew Morrison has earned his role as a musical superstar and a celebrity sweetheart. His performance alongside the Utah Symphony at the Deer Valley Music Festival will consist of hits from throughout his career including those of Glee and his two studio albums, and will surely make a fun and memorable experience.

However, before Matthew started his long and rewarding journey as a television and Broadway superstar, he was just a regular kid in Orange County, California. In his own words, Matthew comments on the start of his musical journey, “My parents threw me and my cousin Jason into a theatre camp thing for the summer. And lucky for me I found my passion at such a young age. It was just such an amazing experience and I really came off the heels of that wanting to do theatre. It really just changed my life and opened me up to a whole new world.”

In this interview, Matthew’s funny and down-to-earth personality shines when talking about his lifelong passion for soccer, including his recent game playing with Manchester United, and his hilarious and disastrous experiences in various Broadway boy bands, including one called Fresh Step (yes, named after the kitty litter brand). Matthew also talks about his influential relationship with TV host David Letterman and his future ambitions of creating, alongside his old music teacher, his own charter school to further art and music education in America.

Be sure to listen to our interview with Matthew Morrison here.

Check out details about Matthew’s performance at the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival here and learn more about Matthew Morrison here.

Between the Barlines – Robert McDuffie

During the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival, the Utah Symphony has launched a weekly interview series entitled “Between the Barlines,” which seeks to reveal aspects of guest artists’ lives outside of the music for which they are known, including things such as their backgrounds, their influences, and their non-musical interests.

Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie won international acclaim while working with some of the world’s best symphonies, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics and the Hamburg Symphony. A strong proponent for classical music, Robert is founder of both the Rome Chamber Music Festival in Italy and the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in his native city of Macon, Georgia. On July 20th, with help from acclaimed conductor Rei Hotoda, Robert will be performing Phillip Glass’ lauded concerto “The American Four Seasons,” a piece that Robert himself helped commission.

In this interview, Robert discusses how the vibrant life of Rome has influenced his work and his life, including his role with the Rome Chamber Festival and his relationship with the Mayor of Rome. Robert also talks about one of his most memorable experiences with an audience member who was reading a book during his performance. Furthermore, Robert comments on his relationships with the band R.E.M. and acclaimed American conductor Phillip Glass.

When discussing his upcoming performance with the Utah Symphony, Robert says, “It’s amazingly beautiful. I asked [Phillip Glass] to use a synthesizer instead of the harpsichord that Vivaldi used to get that Rock N’ Roll Phillip Glass sound…some really beautiful music came out of this experience. It’s really taken off and the title is provocative and the word-of-mouth of the piece has been great. I think this will be close to the 90th performance of this piece that I’ve had.”

Be sure to listen to our interview with Robert McDuffie here.

Check out details about Robert’s performance at the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival here and learn more about Robert McDuffie here.

Between the Barlines – Under the Streetlamp

During the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival, the Utah Symphony has launched a weekly interview series entitled “Between the Barlines,” which seeks to reveal aspects of guest artists’ lives outside of the music for which they are known, including things such as their backgrounds, their influences, and their non-musical interests.

Broadway vocalist Michael Ingersoll is one of the four members of the group Under the Streetlamp, which will be headlining performances of a variety of hits straight out of the American Radio Songbook. A surely electrifying evening, come experience a night of slick dance moves and your favorite Doo-Wop, Motown and old Rock n Roll hits. With Under the Streetlamp, retro has never sounded so now.

In this interview, vocalist Michael Ingersoll, one of the leading cast members from the Tony Award-winning sensation Jersey Boys, comments on everything from the very start of his musical career, to his hobbies inside and out of Broadway. With his fun and sincere manner, Michael talks about his early musical interest playing on his grandfather’s knee, his strong love for the Food Network and all things cooking, and what it’s like performing around the country.

When discussing Under the Streetlamp’s upcoming performance with the Utah Symphony, he said: “We take the music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We like to talk to the audience and joke around and tell stories, and really host more of a party than anything…with our concerts, we just want to bring joy to folks, and we can’t wait to bring joy to the folks at Deer Valley.”

Be sure to listen to our interview with Under the Streetlamp here.

Check out details about Michael’s performance at the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival here and learn more about Under the Streetlamp here.

Between the Barlines – Jeannette Sorrell

During the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival, the Utah Symphony has launched a weekly interview series entitled “Between the Barlines,” which seeks to reveal aspects of guest artists’ lives outside of the music for which they are known, including things such as their backgrounds, their influences, and their non-musical interests.

Guest conductor Jeannette Sorrell will be leading performances of classical masterpieces such as Handel’s “Water Music and Selections for Terpsichore,” Haydn’s “Overture to Uninhabited Island”, and Mozart’s “Ballet Music from Idomeneo” on July 13th at the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival.

In this interview, award-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell discusses more than just her musical credentials. Acclaimed for her creative programming, Ms. Sorrell discusses her first experiences entering the world of classical music, featuring her entertaining stories of childhood mischief revolving around practicing the piano. Other highlights include Ms. Sorrell’s discussion on her mentorship, including speaking about the multi-faceted wisdom of her preeminent mentor Leonard Bernstein, as well as her hobbies outside of music such as hiking in her old hometown of Colorado.

Be sure to listen to our interview with Jeannette Sorrell here.

Check out details about Jeannette’s performance at the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival here and learn more about Jeannette Sorrell here.

Between the Barlines – Jayce Ogren

Jayce Ogren_credit Roger_Mastroianni
Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni

During the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival, the Utah Symphony has launched a weekly interview series entitled “Between the Barlines,” which seeks to reveal aspects of guest artists’ lives outside of the music for which they are known, including things such as their backgrounds, their influences, and their non-musical interests.

Guest conductor Jayce Ogren, alongside esteemed soprano Simone Osborne, will be performing a number of classical masterpieces including Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and “Knoxville, Summer of 1915,” Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilante, and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 on July 6th at the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival.

In this interview with “Between the Barlines”, Jayce elaborates on how his non-musical upbringing in Washington State developed into a full-blown passion for conducting during high school, and commentates on how his training as a medaled triathlete relates to his musical career. Jayce also commentates on his experiences conducting around the world and his passion for indulging in both vibrant international cultures, and tasty foreign food.

In his own words, when describing when his musical interests first blossomed, Jayce narrates, “It was when I was a freshman in high school. I remember sitting in our band rehearsal and looking up at my conductor and thinking ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Check out details about Jayce’s performance at the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival here and learn more about Jayce Ogren here.

Instrumental Players – Mark Davidson

“Instrumental Players” is a blog series that aims to highlight Utah Symphony musicians as part of the Deer Valley® Music Festival and discover what they love most about Park City, the orchestra’s summer home.  This piece features Utah Symphony trombonist Mark Davidson.

“The Utah Symphony has a unique spirit… a lively, hopeful, positive spirit. It’s very uplifting and energetic. It’s something you want to be around. I’m very happy to call the Utah Symphony my job and Utah my home. I see it as a very positive place and collaborative environment.”
– Mark Davidson

Utah Symphony Principal Trombonist Mark Davidson is not only an accomplished musician, but also an enthusiastic mountain biker and hiker. A native of Dallas, Texas, Mark was most surprised by Utah’s flourishing outdoor scene when he moved to Salt Lake City in 2013. “There is an outdoor scene here that I’ve never really experienced anywhere else,” Mark says, “Not just that it’s pretty and there’s scenery, but there’s such a wide variety of things you can do outdoors here…. That’s probably been the biggest thing to get acclimated to… using that as kind of a new way of life. It’s definitely been a great thing.”

MarkDavidson3Fortunately Mark didn’t have to familiarize himself with Utah’s outdoor scene on his own. Many people in the symphony participate in Utah’s outdoor activities, and were more than happy to introduce Mark to new hobbies. “It seems like there’s an expert in the orchestra in every possible sport or hobby you can imagine, from fly fishing to kayaking, canoeing to mountain biking, or hiking,” said Mark. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been lucky enough to go out with a few of them in their expertise.” He has enjoyed exploring many outdoor activities with orchestra members, but says that his biggest developing passions are mountain biking, road biking, and hiking.

Sometimes Mark will take the time to explore hikes and trails in Park City before or after the orchestra’s rehearsals and concerts for the Deer Valley® Music Festival. His favorite mountain biking trails include Flying Dog Trail and Jenni’s Trail.

In discussing his favorite hiking trails, Mark said, “One of my favorite hikes (not just in Park City, but anywhere) is Summit Park Peak. It’s in Park City West and about six miles. It’s up in the pine trees and it’s just absolutely beautiful. The best time to do it is starting around 4pm so you’ll finish up around 8pm. That is a really special time for me to be in Park City. There’s an ambiance there that I’ve just never experienced in other places.”

MMarkDavidson2ark not only enjoys participating in the outdoor activities that Park City offers, but also appreciates the opportunity to perform music in the magnificent scenery as part of the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley® Music Festival. He says, “Deer Valley is probably one of the most unique venues I’ve ever played in. Sometimes you’re playing in concert and briefly looking out at the conductor from the music and you’ll spot a deer in the distance.”

He also enjoys the festival’s capacity to reach out to new audiences. He feels that the festival’s lineup of guest artists and popular music attract new audiences that might not usually attend a symphony concert. This year, Mark is most looking forward to performing in “The B52s” concert on July 9, “The Music of David Bowie” concert on July 23, the “DreamWorks Animation” concert on July 29, and “The Music of John Williams” concert on August 6. He especially enjoys playing the pieces by John Williams due to the famous and distinct brass melodies. Mark says, “It’s a heavier concert in the brass department. It has a lot of great music that features the orchestra and is very popular music. I think the musicians enjoy playing it since it’s music they’re very familiar with. For audiences, it’s very attractive to all ages.”

Mark’s Park City Restaurant Recommendation

Ritual Chocolate (1105 Iron Horse Dr, Park City, UT 84060) –
“They make their own artesian chocolates and they have specialty coffee drinks like cortados.”

Windy Ridge Bakery (1255 Iron Horse Dr, Park City, UT 84060) –
“I’ve tried all the bakeries in town and I think they’re one of the best.”

Deer Valley Grocery Café (1375 Deer Valley Dr, Park City, UT 84060) –
Sometimes Mark likes to come here for a quick bite or cup of coffee before concerts. It is conveniently located near the Deer Valley® Snow Park Amphitheater.


Instrumental Players – Erin Svoboda

“Instrumental Players” is a blog series that aims to highlight Utah Symphony musicians as part of the Deer Valley® Music Festival and discover what they love most about Park City, the orchestra’s summer home.  This piece features Utah Symphony clarinetist Erin Svoboda.

“I think the Utah Symphony is unique because of its location. I’ve never lived in a place so beautiful.”
– Erin Svoboda

When Utah Symphony clarinetist Erin Svoboda is not playing with the symphony, she can usually be found mountain biking, gardening, or spending time with her pet corgi.  Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Erin never imagined her future-self living in Salt Lake City, Utah. In discussing her move to Utah, she said, “I was really shocked by the mountains. I had no idea that they were so close. Of course, I grew up in Florida, where there are no mountains… there are barely even hills! [Salt Lake] is a great city and place to live. There’s an amazing balance with the city as a cultural center and [its proximity to] the outdoors. You get a lot of great things coming together in this city.”

ErinSvobodaErin also enjoys spending time in Park City, the location of the Deer Valley® Music Festival and summer home of the Utah Symphony. One of Erin’s favorite mountain biking trails in Park City is the Flying Dog Bike Trail. Erin says of a recent ride on the trail, “It was a lot of fun. I’m a very cautious mountain biker because I don’t want to hurt myself and not be able to play anymore, so I would say I was not as much ‘flying’ as I was ‘sauntering’ down the trail. It was really beautiful, and I enjoyed the different aspects of the scenery.”

Erin feels that Utah provides unique outdoor activities, and is grateful that her job with the symphony brought her here.  She says, “I’m enjoying the outdoor lifestyle, which definitely wasn’t part of my past. I feel like the outdoor activities in Utah are much more my calling than the outdoor activities I was exposed to [in Florida] as a child… I really enjoy being in the beauty of the outdoors.”

ErinSvoboda2She especially appreciates the opportunity to perform in Utah’s distinctive scenery as part of the Deer Valley® Music Festival. The festival reminds Erin of the Tanglewood Music Festival, a similar outdoor summer concert series located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, which she frequently attended as a child. She loves the family-friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the Deer Valley® Music Festival, and enjoys the opportunity to play in an outdoor summer concert venue.

The festival takes place over a six-week period throughout the months of July and August and includes seventeen concerts.  The schedule includes numerous pops themed concerts, which are held in the Deer Valley® Resort Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, and a midweek chamber series, which takes place at St. Mary’s Church in Park City.

“I love playing the smaller chamber pieces because it’s a little more intimate and I feel like there’s more interaction between the players. That’s fun, but it’s the more serious side of the summer concerts,” Erin says, “I’m also looking forward to the John Williams concert. He writes so well for the particular mood of the movies and he really knows [how to write for] orchestra. The parts are really fun … You usually think of all the brass melodies, but as a clarinet player it’s still a lot of fun to play.”  She is most looking forward to playing Poulenc’s Sinfonietta in the chamber series concert on August 3, and selections from Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the lesser-known film The Witches of Eastwick in “The Music of John Williams” concert on August 6.

Erin’s Park City Restaurant Recommendation

High West Distillery (703 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060) – “I really like their food and I enjoy learning about the process of distilling the whiskey and trying the different types they have. The people there seem quite knowledgeable.”

Between the Barlines – Doug LaBrecque

During the 2016 Deer Valley Music Festival, the Utah Symphony has launched a weekly interview series entitled “Between the Barlines,” which seeks to reveal aspects of guest artists’ lives outside of the music for which they are known, including things such as their backgrounds, their influences, and their non-musical interests.

For this week, special guest artist, Broadway star Doug LaBrecque, will be performing a variety of American classics such as “God Bless America” and “Shenandoah” with the Utah Symphony on July 2nd at the Deer Valley Music Festival to celebrate Independence Day.

Before becoming a renowned American vocalist on Broadway, Doug LaBrecque was just a 5th grader irking to go to a public school. In this interview with “Between the Barlines,” Doug speaks on everything from his experience as a scholarship diver for the University of Utah, to setting his hair on fire on Broadway, and his most memorable performance stories from around the world.

In his own words, Doug discusses his favorite destinations while performing, “There’s a wonderful place near Prague that I’ve sung a few times called Cesky Krumlov which is the most gorgeous little unspoiled medieval town. It’s just beautiful and they do a concert series out in an apple orchard. It’s just a magical setting.”

Check out details about Doug’s performance at the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival here, and learn more about Doug LaBrecque here.

Mahler Memories: Ralph Gochnour

Ralph Gochnour, flute, 1956-99

An Orchestra of Teachers

When I started with the symphony in 1956, the salary had just raised to $50/week. There were only two woodwind spots in each section, and those were already filled by our principal Gene Foster and our piccolo player Ted Wight, so I was hired as second flute, but I also had to handle the library to earn a full contract. My wife, Rosie, spent a lot of time putting bowings in the violin parts. The principal players were getting $125 /week, and they could manage to live on that, barely. At one point there were 35 members of the symphony who, like me, were schoolteachers. Several of the districts were very good about it. When we had to be gone with the orchestra, instead of calling in and having them hiring the substitute, they had us get our own substitutes. Therefore we could trust the person who came in and we could have some continuity in the program. We would usually have the same substitute, as needed, for the entire year. Very often the substitutes were students in college that were going into music education. We were able to function pretty well. I could keep my program going because the students got acquainted with the substitute; the substitute knew what I was doing, and it wasn’t a big disruption. We had to have the second employment, especially if we had a family or were married: you couldn’t survive on the symphony salary in those years.

Making Things Happen

One year, around my seventh year in the orchestra and after we had started rehearsing in the University of Utah Union Ballroom, Abravanel decided he was going to raise the salary from $50 to $75 a week. It wasn’t just $5 a year, it was a big jump. Abravanel told the board that he had authorized the salary to be raised to $75 a week, and I think they raised his annual salary from $16,000 to $25,000. The treasurer of the board just went ballistic! “We can’t do that! That can’t happen!” Abravanel said, “Well, it’s done.”  I think he pulled his own salary back a ways, but not for the musicians; the treasurer resigned immediately, but the plan worked. He just said “it’s going to happen and the board is responsible for finding the money,” and it happened.

Unheard Of

It was unusual for the Utah Symphony and for an orchestra from a rural part of the United States, to all of a sudden be playing with Gina Bachauer in the Athens Bowl, and spending four weeks performing in Europe, traveling around, and receiving good reviews. European audiences were surprised to see many women in our orchestra at that time. There were no women in the Vienna Philharmonic for another twenty years after that. But here we were playing very successful concerts of great works with a lot of women in the orchestra. It was really groundbreaking.

Abravanel’s Notations

At the time I worked in the library, Abravanel would call and ask me to come over. He’d have a score that he had laid out, and on the inside front page he’d have written all his notations that he wanted put in the parts. I had to interpret what he wrote for every instrument, which consisted of about fifty parts. He had written out all the little nuances and changes he wanted to put into each player’s printed music. One Thanksgiving morning—usually a day off—I got a call from him. We sat down in his studio and he laid out his notes and said, “I want this to go into all the parts,” because there was going to be a recording and he was really concerned. He was very thorough. He was also very upset if, when we played a particular part, every musician didn’t respond to the notation that was in there. He’d stop and say, “Don’t you have something in your part?” They’d say, “Well, yeah.” “So do it.”

Mahler Firsts

When I was at Eastman in 1952, a very interesting thing happened: I looked at the bulletin board one day and saw, “Join the Gustav Mahler Society.” I thought, “Who’s that? What’s that?” And then later that year, the Eastman Junior Symphony played Mahler’s First Symphony. That was my first experience with Mahler. So I was a little bit acquainted with Mahler when Abravanel started programming his music eight years later. There was a resurgence of interest in Mahler at that time. So many of the recordings that had been available were very old and outdated, if they had even been recorded. That was the goal of both Westminster when they started and later Vanguard, to update these, since they would be in stereo, and all of much better sound quality. The Mahler recordings were done in the Tabernacle and the U of U music hall.

Playing in the Tabernacle

A problem we had early on was learning how to record in the Tabernacle. Our first year that we recorded in the Tabernacle, there was so much reverberation they weren’t sure how to deal with it. They required us to lay out our coats on top of the front rows of the Tabernacle seats. Later we got big drapes and put them all over the seats to try to soak up some of the sound. In addition, they put a mike in front of every section so they could catch that sound immediately, and then they could add the reverberation from the hall. It was very interesting how the recording engineers did it. As a side note, once, I was sitting in the audience in the middle of the south balcony, and the most prominent sound was coming from the bassoon section, because from where I was sitting, the bassoon sound followed the ceiling just to my spot.

Awakening to Mahler

Musical America was the prominent music magazine of the time. It covered all of what was happening throughout the music world and America. Abravanel was on the front cover of one issue because of the Mahler recordings, so our recording did have a great impact. I remember I was teaching school, and I subscribed to the magazine for the school library. I was surprised when the issue came with Maurice Abravanel on the front cover. It was a major moment for the orchestra, for the city, for the state, for what we were doing to have this publicity. I think it awakened everyone to Mahler throughout the country, just the mere fact of what we were doing. Other orchestras didn’t want to be left behind, or out of what’s going on, and so I’m sure they picked up on it and started performing more Mahler.

International Success

When the U.S. went on the tour to South America, a very interesting thing happened. Doug Craig, and I, along with the rest of the orchestra had the day off in Corrientes, Argentina, not the evening—as we had a concert that night—so we decided to walk around town a bit. We were looking for the train yard. As we were walking along, a fellow came up to us, out of the blue, put a record jacket in front of us, and said, “Will you autograph this?” We just looked at each other. It was one of our recordings, but it was published by Philips, in Europe. We thought, “This is really something!” You know, to get that far away from home and discover that people are aware of what you’re doing.

An Orchestra without Its Conductor

Abravanel was a very humane person, and everyone loved him. We’d do anything for him. We didn’t question his affection, and we definitely didn’t exhibit any displeasure with the way he worked us in rehearsal, because we knew he would sense it. In fact, if he saw during a rehearsal that someone was uneasy or unhappy or something else, he’d give them a call later and say, “Is there a problem?” Very often he would call to check up and see how your family was. He was very human. I had been in the orchestra twenty-some years, when Abravanel had his heart attack. I got into a very depressed state trying to think of how we were going to function beyond Abravanel. Because the Utah Symphony was our local community orchestra and many of the players were local. That’s not the case now. We worried how we were going to function with another conductor. I know when they hired Thierry Fischer that was an important consideration. We all wanted somebody who was going to be here and invested in this community.

School Concerts

In those early years of school concerts, ballet and even some opera, Abravanel was the conductor. He tried his best to relate to the school audiences. A lot of the students had a difficult time understanding his accent, but he enjoyed the concerts. In fact, he told me personally, “I feel that some of my greatest musical experiences with the symphony were in high school gymnasiums.” We played for a group of people who had never heard anything of Brahms, for example, and yet they were all intently listening.

Getting South High School’s Principal Onboard

While I was teaching at South High, the symphony was scheduled to come and perform a concert. The school had to pay $750 towards the fee. Our auditorium seated 1500, and we decided that if each student paid fifty cents, we could come up with the fee. So we started moving ahead on this. We got the day scheduled and the publicity was out in the school, when the principal all of a sudden said, “You know, there are a lot of our students that may not like this type of an experience, so I’m going to excuse those who do not want to go to the concert to go to the library during that period of time,” which just deflated us. He was not onboard. So we played the concert, and it was great. Abravanel, cagey as ever, got the principal up on stage and congratulated him on the conduct of the students. He also complimented him on the number that attended, and what a great job he and the music faculty were doing. He really laid it on. The next time the orchestra was to perform at South High, we didn’t have any problem. The principal took over, as it was “his baby”, and we no longer had to worry about how much money they raised.

Mahler Memories: Russell Harlow

Russell Harlow, clarinet, 1971-1985

Aging Ears
We were doing the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony in the tabernacle with Abravanel, and Alexander Schriner, the organist. It was towards the end of Abravanel’s career, and both men were very old, and at one point Schriner was not with the orchestra. Abravanel stopped and he started waving and  saying “Alex! Alex!” and finally he got him to stop. He said, “Alex, you’re behind!” and then Alex said “…What?” and Abravanel said, “…What?” And there it went back and forth a few times until somebody in the middle stood up and translated.

All Composers Are Conducted Equally
I don’t remember there being any difference between recording the Mahler symphonies, or performing the Mahler symphonies, or recording all the Brahms or the Tchaikovsky that we did, or the Sibelius and all of the Grieg orchestra music. I feel that for Abravanel, it was a really important thing—and for the orchestra, by association—it was a very big thing to do all the Mahlers. But he did not do anything less with the other composers than he did with Mahler. So I don’t remember a great deal of difference between when we did Mahler and when we did Brahms. It was always very, very focused. And the integrity of the man and the orchestra at that point was fantastic.

Strength in Numbers
He had a strength of character that you don’t see in a lot of people. When I joined the symphony, there were five people in the office. Five staff members. There was Abravanel and just five. A few years earlier in the 60s, I believe there were even fewer. And he was always there when they had all of these accountants in to decide the finances and they had their machines and systems, and he would do it in his head. He was a brilliant man! He would do all the figures in his head, and most of the time he would have the figures ahead of all of these others as well. “It’s going to be this, it’s going to be this, it’s going to be this.”