Utah Symphony announces contract extension for Conner Gray Covington through 2019-20 season

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (December 22, 2017) – Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President & CEO Paul Meecham and Music Director Thierry Fischer announced an extension of Assistant Conductor Conner Gray Covington’s contract through the 2019-20 season, and a new title as Associate Conductor beginning in September 2018. The agreement extends the current contract, set to expire at the end of the 2017-18 season, for an additional two years. Mr. Covington assumed the role of Assistant Conductor in September 2017.

“I am thrilled that Conner has accepted this extension. He has already proven his versatility on the podium and was an incredibly helpful artistic partner during our first three recording weeks this season,” said Music Director Thierry Fischer. “Conner has the kind of talent that is in great demand across the country, so I’m very happy we can keep him in Salt Lake City a little while longer.”

Conner Gray Covingtonbegan his position as Assistant Conductor of the Utah Symphony this season after appearing as a guest conductor on the 2017 Deer Valley® Music Festival Chamber Series. In addition to leading the orchestra in various programs for community and chamber concerts, regional tours, and the Deer Valley Music Festival concerts in Park City, he plays an active role in the orchestra’s education department, conducting around 50 family, education and outreach concerts each season. He also serves as a spokesperson for the Utah Symphony in pre-concert lectures and community events, and acts as a mentor for several youth orchestras in a variety of regional guest clinics and performances. 

In June of 2017, he completed his tenure as the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he worked closely with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the Curtis Opera Theater, while also being mentored by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in February 2016 with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra sharing the podium with Ludovic Morlot. Mr. Covington began his career as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. A two-time recipient (2014, 2017) of a Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., he worked with the Nashville Symphony as a featured conductor in the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview presented by the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Covington has also worked with the St. Louis Symphony and Virginia Symphony as a guest conductor and has served as a cover conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, the Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee, WI), and the Britt Festival Orchestra (Jacksonville, OR). In 2015, Mr. Covington was invited as one of three conductors to participate in the Pacific Music Festival Conducting Academy in Sapporo, Japan. He has also worked with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich as part of the 6th International David Zinman Conducting Masterclass. In 2014, Mr. Covington was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic to attend the Salzburg Festival as a recipient of the Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors. Mr. Covington competed in the prestigious Malko Conducting Competition in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he conducted the Danish National Symphony for a jury headed by Lorin Maazel and was the youngest participant to advance to the third round. He was invited back to compete in the 2015 Malko Competition for a jury headed by Sakari Oramo. Mr. Covington also worked with the New Japan Philharmonic in the 2012 Tokyo International Conducting Competition and advanced to the semi-final round.

Mr. Covington was selected for his Utah Symphony position by unanimous choice by an advisory committee comprised of Maestro Fischer and orchestra musicians following an extensive audition process that involved conducting several concerts in front of live audiences.

About the Utah Symphony

Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns easy access to world-class live musical performances of the world’s greatest music in the state’s top venues. Since being named the orchestra’s seventh music director in 2009, Thierry Fischer has attracted leading musicians and top soloists, refreshed programming, drawn increased audiences, and galvanized community support. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including the Mighty 5® Tour of Utah’s national parks, the Utah Symphony has embarked on seven international tours and performed at Carnegie Hall in spring 2016 coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary celebrations. The Utah Symphony has released more than 100 recordings, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in fall 2017, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (2015) and Dawn to Dust (2016), which features three Utah Symphony-commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the orchestra’s parent organization, reaches 450,000 residents in Utah and the Intermountain region, with educational outreach programs serving around 75,000 students annually. In addition to performances in its home in Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall, and concerts throughout the state of Utah, the Utah Symphony participates in Utah Opera's four annual productions at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and presents the six-week Deer Valley® Music Festival each summer in Park City, Utah. With its many subscription, education, and outreach concerts and tours, the Utah Symphony is one of the most engaged orchestras in the nation. For more information visit www.utahsymphony.org

About Utah Symphony | Utah Opera Education Department

The Education Department of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera creates and oversees opportunities in music for audiences of all ages, with special emphasis on musical experiences for K-12 students and teachers. As the largest performing arts organization in Utah, USUO promotes a broad public knowledge and appreciation of music through more than 30 state-assisted community outreach programs, amounting to more than 600 performances annually. USUO Education serves more than 7,000 teachers and 145,000 students each year throughout Utah by bringing both symphony and opera programs, free of charge, to every school district in Utah over a three- to five-year rotation. For more information, visit www.usuoeducation.orgor call 801.869.9091.


The Season Sponsor for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.