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Salt Lake Magazine – Full Steam Ahead: Utah Symphony and Opera’s Steven Brosvik

Utah Symphony and Opera’s new CEO looks forward

What better time to start your new job as the head of the Utah Symphony and Opera than at the beginning of a global pandemic? That’s exactly how Steven Brosvik did it. He was hired to help captain two of Salt Lake’s important cultural institutions at precisely the moment when the wind dropped out of the sails. But Brosvik discovered the USUO’s teams already had oars in the water, and together they all started rowing.

“This community told us to do whatever was necessary to keep performing,” Brosvik says of his first days on the job. “We threw out an entire season and completely changed course.”

This involved a lot of puzzling and challenging reconfigurations. They reduced the overall number of symphony musicians from 85 to, at most, 48. Blocking, something usually left to the realms of theater and opera companies (“Lucky us, we are also an opera company,” Brosvik notes) became a factor to choreograph smaller groups of musicians moving around stage. Normally, all of the musicians sit essentially shoulder to shoulder, listening to each other. Musicians now had to sit farther apart. The wind and brass players were stuck at the back of the stage, literally over air return ducts. They had to learn to use more visual cues to work together.