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Thierry Fischer and Utah Symphony Continue 2018-19 Season with Cycle Devoted to All Six of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (November 13, 2018) – In three separate Masterworks evenings beginning in November, Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer will lead the Utah Symphony through a complete cycle devoted to J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos featuring several of the orchestra’s principal players in prominent solo roles. Works by late French composer Pierre Boulez are also featured on each of the three programs.

During the 2018-19 season, Maestro Fischer will lead the Utah Symphony through a complete cycle devoted to J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. As an homage to Pierre Boulez, with whom he had the pleasure of working, Maestro Fischer has programmed the late French composer’s works “Dérive 1,” “Mémoriale,” and “Initiale” between two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos spread over three separate Masterworks evenings.

“Bach’s audacity makes us feel like it is not old music. Boulez’ warm, inviting novelty makes us feel unexpectedly at home after a few seconds and sustains the feeling. The mixing of the two styles will show us that the notion of beauty and harmony doesn’t correspond to the notion of time,” explained Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer. “I am convinced that during the performances, we will completely forget which composer we are actually performing and listening to. It should be a revelation: realizing that beauty is eternal, whether it has been written today or a couple of centuries ago.”

In 1721, Bach was Kapellmeister–the music director–in the small town of Coethen. He conceived of six lively concertos for chamber orchestra that would later be considered benchmarks of quintessential Baroque music and were actually compiled from already-written short instrumental sinfonias and concerto movements. He re-worked and edited them to create a brilliant collection of interrelated works that evoke a spirited chase, and presented them in a bound manuscript as a gift to Margrave of Brandenburg – one that was utterly dismissed and unacknowledged for more than a century.

The orchestra will commence the cycle with the first two Brandenburg concertos on November 16 and 17; the third and fourth concertos on December 6, 7, and 8; and the final two concertos on February 1 and 2.

Featured Utah Symphony concertante soloists on Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 are Principal Flute Mercedes Smith, Principal Oboe James Hall, Principal Second Violin Claude Halter, and Principal Trumpet Travis Peterson.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 will feature Principal Flute Mercedes Smith, Associate Principal Flute Lisa Byrnes, and Concertmaster Madeline Adkins.

Bach invented the modern piano concerto by highlighting the harpsichord in Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with such an advanced composition style that scholars consider it the last piece in the set to be written.

Featured concertante in the February 1 and 2 program are Principal Flute Mercedes Smith, Associate Concertmaster Kathryn Eberle, and Harpsichord Jeannette Sorrell on Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, and Principal Viola Brant Bayless, Associate Principal Viola Roberta Zalkind on Brandenburg Concerto No. 6.

This final program of the Brandenburg Concerto cycle also features Hector Berlioz’s best-known work, “Symphonie fantastique,” which Maestro Fischer conducted in his Utah Symphony debut in October 2007. It is the first of two programs in February highlighting four works by Berlioz, to be recorded live for release on Hyperion Records. The second program, on February 8 and 9, features three of Berlioz’ lesser-known works: “Sara la baigneuse” with the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs; “La Mort d’Ophélie” featuring the Symphony Chorus and University Choirs; and “Rêverie et caprice” featuring the Utah Symphony’s 2018-19 Artist-in-Association Philippe Quint as soloist.

Mounting complete symphonic cycles has become a regular initiative for Maestro Fischer. Prior cycles have included Beethoven, Brahms, Ives, Mendelssohn, Nielsen, and a two-season cycle of Mahler’s symphonies as a tribute to former Music Director Maurice Abravanel. He has also programmed a cycle of all five Beethoven Piano concertos, and last season led the orchestra in live recordings of all five Saint-Saëns symphonies for release on Hyperion Records, the first of which is available in December.