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New York Arts: The Utah Symphony with Andrew Litton, conductor and Philippe Quint, violin in Bernstein, Corigliano, and Tchaikovsky

by Steven Kruger

There’s something a little otherworldly and disorienting about Salt Lake City, I’m tempted to say, especially if you aren’t Mormon or familiar with the ways of the LDS Church. It’s unusual to encounter a spotless downtown in any American city, of course, but you do wonder at times if Salt Lake is a Hollywood set designed to make one’s own sense of human imperfection uncomfortable. Utah, in general, is almost too beautiful to be real—but the city is curiously empty—even in the Bermuda shorts weather of late October. Immensely wide, perfectly laid-out avenues are nearly people free. (The “don’t walk” signs count down from 30). There are few homeless people visible, though sometimes they are the only citizens seemingly present, horizontal black marks visible on distant sidewalks. But raffish neighborhoods which spawn them, and the urban trouble that comes with them, are mysteriously absent downtown. Traffic is light. Nobody exceeds the speed limit or honks a horn. Nobody drives a German or European car. Almost all vehicles are SUVs. When you do see a pedestrian, it’s likely to be a pregnant young woman pushing a stroller, followed by a cortege of several children in ascending order of height, all blonde, all quiet and perfectly behaved. I’ve never seen so many small, eerily silent, humans in one place.

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