The Utah Symphony led by Music Director Thierry Fischer will tour Utah’s iconic five national parks and surrounding communities in August 2014 with free outdoor performances surrounded by the landscape of Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Presented by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, The Mighty 5™ Tour represents a collaboration between two of Utah’s great treasures, the state’s leading arts organization, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, and the unparalleled natural beauty of Utah’s red rock country preserved within the five national parks, collectively known as “The Mighty 5™.” The tour is also made possible with major support from the State of Utah and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.
Concerts will take place in outdoor venues throughout the communities of southern Utah against the natural backdrop of arches, spires and canyons, and brilliant red rocks set afire by the setting summer sun. Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer will lead the orchestra in symphonic works that complement the beauty of the environment including Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture”, movements from Dvořák’s “New World Symphony,” Bizet’s Orchestral Suite from Carmen, and Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”, as well as vocal selections featuring Utah native, soprano soloist Celena Shafer performing Johann Strauss’s “Frühlingsstimmen”, Puccini’s “Quando me’n vo” from “La bohème” and Gershwin’s “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess”.
Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer was named Music Director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra in 2009 and has since revitalized the orchestra with creative programming and critically acclaimed performances that have drawn consistently full houses. In addition he has appointed 25 new orchestra members, has engaged top soloists to play with the symphony, and has galvanized community support.
Highlights of his tenure with the Utah Symphony are the orchestra’s first complete Nielsen symphony cycle presented as a precursor to the 75th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2016 and a multi-season Haydn symphony cycle. Over the span of two seasons beginning in 2014, he will also conduct a complete Mahler symphony cycle in commemoration of former Utah Symphony Music Director, Maurice Abravanel. Also a champion of Berlioz he has led the Utah Symphony, as well as orchestras worldwide, in many of the composer’s works, including the Requiem, “L’enfance du Christ”, “La damnation de Faust” and “Roméo et Juliette”.
He has initiated a major commissioning program in Utah, which began in spring 2012 with a cello concerto for Jean-Guihen Queyras composed by Michael Jarrell, which he will also conduct with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in 2014. In 2013 the Utah Symphony premiered Simon Holt’s “Ellsworth 2”. Two additional commissions, a percussion concerto by Andrew Norman and a new work by Augusta Read Thomas, will be premiered by the Utah Symphony under Mr. Fischer in coming seasons. Mr. Fischer regularly programs contemporary music by composers such as Holt, Jarrell, Andriessen, Boulez, Holliger, Rihm, Widmann and Simon Holt – his Composer in Residence during his tenure at the BBC.
Mr. Fischer was Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales from 2006-2012, and most recently returned to lead the orchestra in 2013. Also a frequent guest conductor, he has led orchestras as diverse as the Philharmonia, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra Chicago, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber, and Swedish Chamber. In 2013/14 he makes his debut with the Oslo Philharmonic conducting Honegger and Poulenc, returns to the Orchestre National de Bordeaux to conduct Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 in their new auditorium, and conducts the Oregon, Detroit, Atlanta and Pacific symphonies in the U.S.
In 2012 Mr. Fischer’s recording for Hyperion of Frank Martin’s opera “Der Sturm” with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus was awarded the International Classical Music Award (opera category). Other recent Hyperion releases have included Honegger, d’Indy and Florent Schmitt with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales – with whom he has also recorded the Stravinsky ballets for Signum and Stravinsky and Frank Martin concerti with Baiba Skride for Orfeo.
Mr. Fischer began his music career as Principal Flute in Hamburg and at the Zurich Opera. He made his conducting debut in his 30′s leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (where he was Principal Flute under Claudio Abbado) when he replaced an ailing colleague. He was Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2001-2006 and Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic from 2008-2011 (now the orchestra’s Honorary Guest Conductor) and made his Suntory Hall debut in Tokyo in May 2010.
Soprano Celena Shafer has garnered acclaim for her silvery voice, fearlessly committed acting and phenomenal technique. She spends much of her time on the concert stage where she appears regularly with orchestras in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and with leading conductors such as Christoph von Dohnanyi, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, Bernard Labadie, Nicholas McGegan, Kent Nagano, Donald Runnicles, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Robertson and Sir Andrew Davis.
In her home state of Utah, Ms. Shafer frequently performs with the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera where she appears this season as Konstanze in Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” with Utah Opera.
In the upcoming season, Ms. Shafer will be featured as a Utah Symphony Artist-in-Residence and will perform in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4.
Her operatic highlights include Johanna in “Sweeney Todd” for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Aithra in “Die ägyptische Helena” with the American Symphony Orchestra recorded for Telarc, Zerbinetta in “Ariadne auf Naxos” at the Concertgebouw, Nanetta in “Falstaff” with the Los Angeles Opera, and Gilda in “Rigoletto” with the Welsh National Opera. She was soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Phoenix Symphony led by Michael Christie last season. Ms. Shafer began her career as an apprentice at Santa Fe Opera, and has since returned numerous times, most recently as Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s “Albert Herring”.