The Utah Symphony Presents Two Back-to-Back Masterworks Programs Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of Leonard Bernstein


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 9, 2018)– Join the Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer the final weekend of Februaryand the first weekend of Marchfor two programs of rarely-performed works celebrating the 100th birthday of beloved late composer, conductor, and pianist Leonard Bernstein. Tickets are priced from $23-83 and can be purchased at or by calling (801) 533-6683.

On February 23 and 24, 2018 at 7:30 PM, indulge in Bernstein’s startling portrait of modern uncertainty, Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety,” featuring guest pianist Conrad Tao. Mr. Tao is a frequent guest on the Abravanel Hall stage; he last performed with the orchestra in March 2015, where he played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor.” The program begins with Saint-Saëns’ bone-rattling “Danse macabre” and his precocious Symphony No. 1, which the orchestra will perform for the first time. On March 2 and 3, 2018 at 7:30 PM, the birthday celebration continues with the old-fashioned sweetness of Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” and the wildly eclectic reminiscences of his Divertimento for Orchestra. The program also features Saint-Saëns’ Symphony in A Major, and Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms.” This once-in-a-lifetime celebration is not to be missed—both programs guarantee a moving experience honoring the wonderful life of Leonard Bernstein. 

Both weekends, the Saint-Saëns works will be recorded liveas part of the Utah Symphony’s 2017-18 commitment to perform and recordall five of the French composer’s symphonies on the European label Hyperion, published on three CDs as the orchestra’s fifth, sixth, and seventh recordings with Maestro Fischer. The Utah Symphony is the first American orchestra to ever recordall five of Saint-Saëns’ symphonies.



This program is the Utah Symphony’s fourth of fiveliveSaint-Saëns recording weeks with European label Hyperion Records.

On February 23 and 24 at 7:30 PM, the Utah Symphony, pianist Conrad Tao, and conductor Thierry Fischer begin the Bernstein birthday celebration with the communicative Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety,” which the orchestra has not performed for a decade. The evening begins with Saint-Saëns’ equally expressive “Danse macabre,” and his Symphony No. 1 in a Utah Symphony debut. Tickets are priced from $23-$83and can be purchased at or by calling (801) 533-6683.

Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety” was inspired by W.H. Auden’s poem, “The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue.” “[The poem] began to affect me lyrically when I first read it in the summer of 1947,” wrote Bernstein. “From that moment the composition of a symphony based on ‘The Age of Anxiety’ acquired an almost compulsive quality.” What resulted was a creation completely outside the sphere of traditional program music—Bernstein’s eclectic and impassioned views of modern city life.

To avoid rejection of a first performance, the 17-year-old Saint-Saëns (and a conductor colleague) submitted his Symphony No. 1 anonymously. The final movement of Symphony No. 1 was written for enlarged orchestra, including two saxhorns (euphonium or bass tuba) to introduce a Wagnerian march, a fugue, and a triumphant conclusion. This marks the first time the orchestra will perform the work.

World-renowned pianist and composer Conrad Tao has been called a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by “The New York Times.” In the 2013-14 season as artist-in-residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Tao premiered his orchestral work, “The world is very different now,” a piece commissioned in honor of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Tao’s career has inspired eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards, and the Carlos Surinach Prize from BMI.


This program is the Utah Symphony’s fifth and finalliveSaint-Saëns recording week of the 2017-18 season with European label Hyperion Records

On March 2 and 3 at 7:30 PM, Utah Symphony’s centennial celebration continues under the baton of Thierry Fischer with a program of not-often-performed repertoire showcasing Bernstein’s choral work “Chichester Psalms,” and Divertimento for Orchestra. The evening includes guest artists from the Utah Symphony Chorus, University of Utah Choirs (under the direction of Dr. Barlow Bradford,)and Madeline Choir School choristers Oliver Laughlin and Anthony Villanueva. The program will also feature Saint-Saëns’ Symphony in A Major – a Utah Symphony debut – and Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms,” which has not been performed here for more than a decade. Tickets are priced from $23-$83and can be purchased at or by calling (801) 533-6683.

The hopeful choral work “Chichester Psalms” juxtaposes typical chapel vocals with Judaic liturgical tradition—a strategic combination that aimed to inspire peace in Israel, a young country at the time facing wild turmoil. Today, “Chichester Psalms” is celebrated as a brilliant yet accessible piece that inspires optimism in listeners. The Utah Symphony has not performed Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” in 10 years, and it has been two decades since they last performed his Divertimento. Written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Divertimento is composed with an animated range of styles, featuring popular American music to classic symphonic repertoire from various eras. This broad array of styles serves as a tribute to fond memories. “It reflects my youthful experiences here when I heard my first orchestral music,” said Bernstein, a Boston native. “I nearly fell out of my chair I was so excited.”

The Utah Symphony Chorus is an audition-only group composed of professional singers from the Salt Lake City area that collaborates with the Utah Symphony throughout each season.

The University of Utah Choirs, directed by Dr. Barlow Bradford, have achieved international acclaim through their demanding repertoire with a wide range of musical styles and eras.  International tours include Spain, France, Israel, England, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany.

Over the course of his musical career, Dr. Barlow Bradford has distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, arranger, pianist, organist, and teacher. As an orchestral and choral conductor, he co-founded the Utah Chamber Artists in 1991 and has led that organization to international acclaim for its impeccable, nuanced performances and award-winning recordings. Dr. Bradford's focused, energetic conducting style led to his appointment as Music Director of the Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City and Associate Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His compositions and arrangements have garnered attention for their innovation and dramatic scope, from delicate, transparent intimacy to epic grandeur.

Formed in 1996, The Madeleine Choir School offers pre-k through eighth grade Salt Lake City students not only an exceptional music curriculum, but holistic humanities, mathematics, sciences, and language studies as well.

Music Director of the Utah Symphony since 2009 and currently extended to 2022, Thierry Fischer has revitalized the orchestra with creative programming, critically acclaimed performances, and new recordings. Highlights of his tenure include a multi-season Haydn symphony cycle; Mahler, Beethoven and Nielsen cycles; and a tour of Utah’s five national parks.  In celebration of its 75th anniversary season, the orchestra appeared at Carnegie Hall in April 2016 to critical acclaim and released an album of newly commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas on Reference Recordings.


A pre-concert lecture free to all ticketholders will take place at all Masterworks Series performances in Abravanel Hall’s First Tier Room 45 minutes prior to each performance.

The Utah Symphony presents
Bernstein at 100: Symphony No. 2 with Conrad Tao
February 23 and 24, 2018 | 7:30 PM | Abravanel Hall

Thierry Fischer, conductor
Conrad Tao, piano

SAINT-SAËNS              “Danse macabre”
SAINT-SAËNS              Symphony No. 1
BERNSTEIN                 Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety”

Symphony Season Sponsor:
The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation
Masterworks Series Sponsor: O.C. Tanner
Concert Sponsor: Zions Bank


The Utah Symphony presents
Bernstein at 100: “Chichester Psalms” and Divertimento
March 2 and 3, 2018 | 7:30 PM | Abravanel Hall

Thierry Fischer, conductor
Barlow Bradford, chorus director
Oliver Laughlin, chorister from The Madeleine Choir School
Anthony Villanueva, chorister from The Madeleine Choir School
Utah Symphony Chorus
University of Utah Choirs

SAINT-SAËNS              Symphony in A Major
BERNSTEIN                 “Chichester Psalms”
STRAVINSKY               “Symphony of Psalms”
BERNSTEIN                 Divertimento for Orchestra

Concert Sponsor:
Guest Artist Sponsor: The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation
Masterworks Series Sponsor: O.C. Tanner

Tickets are priced from $23-$83 and can be purchased at or by calling (801) 533-6683.

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 Sspring 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


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

2017-18 Masterworks Series Sponsor: OC Tanner