Utah Symphony Announces 2019-20 Season

Music Director Thierry Fischer leads orchestra’s 80th season featuring Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles,” inspired by Utah’s landscape; a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday; and a gala concert with violinist Joshua Bell

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 5, 2019) – Music Director Thierry Fischer and President & CEO Paul Meecham today announced the Utah Symphony’s 2019-20 season, sponsored by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, with highlights including multi-media concert experiences featuring the twelve movements from Olivier Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles” (“From the canyons to the stars”), a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020 and a gala concert featuring violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Utah Symphony’s first concert. American composer Andrew Norman returns to present three of his orchestral works and work with young musicians in Utah for his second year as Composer-in-Association, and during fall 2020, the Utah Symphony pays tribute to Hispanic Heritage with Disney’s “Coco” in concert and several programs featuring music by Latin-American composers led by Carlos Miguel Prieto. In addition to the eighteen weekends of performances of the Masterworks Series, the details for the 2019-20 Entertainment Series, Family Series, UNWOUND concerts, and many special events were released.

“Since coming to Utah more than 10 years ago, I have often been awestruck by the beauties and majesties of its natural landscapes. This coming season it gives me great pleasure to honor Utah’s nature with a masterpiece written in Utah and about Utah by Olivier Messiaen, “Des canyons aux étoiles,” said Music Director Thierry Fischer, who was named Music Director in 2009 and will be in his ninth full season with the orchestra. “New creative ideas and innovations in music are important for any orchestra, so I am also looking forward to working for a second year with Andrew Norman as our Composer-in-Association.”

This season, Maestro Fischer will conduct all 12 movements of Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles,” four symphonies by Beethoven in celebration of the composer’s 250th birthday, and the works of Mozart, Gershwin and Composer-in-Association Andrew Norman’s orchestral works “Sacred Geometry,” and “Spiral.” He leads the orchestra in the season opening concert of cosmically-inspired programming including John Williams’ “Star Wars” (Main theme), Kaija Saariaho’s “Asteroid 4179 – Toutatis,” Haydn’s “The World of the Moon” Overture, and Holst’s ‘The Planets.” Maestro Fischer also will conduct a holiday concert featuring Christmas-inspired works, and nature-themed works including Respighi’s “The Birds” and “Pines of Rome,” R. Strauss’ “Alpine Symphony” and Handel’s Organ Concerto “The Cuckoo & The Nightingale.” In addition to these works, Maestro Fischer will conduct Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto;” Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8; R. Schumann’s Piano Concerto; Wagner’s Prelude to Act III from “Lohengrin;” Mahler’s “Totenfeier (Funeral Rites);” Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2; Barber’s “Toccata Festiva;” Dutilleux’s “L’arbre des songes (The Tree of Dreams);” and Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé,” Suite No. 2.

Los Angeles-based composer and 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition winner Andrew Norman, returns for a second season as the Utah Symphony’s 2019-20 Composer-in-Association. The Utah Symphony will explore the bright and intellectually playful sound world in three of Mr. Norman’s orchestral works: “Sacred Geometry,” on November 15 and 16; “Spiral” on January 31 and February 1; and “Unstuck” on March 6 and 7. The Utah Symphony commissioned Mr. Norman to write “Switch,” a percussion concerto that was recorded live in November 2015 for Reference Recordings and also performed at the Utah Symphony’s 2016 Carnegie Hall concert.

The UNWOUND series, a casual classical experience introduced during the 2018-19 season, will expand to include two shorter intermission-free programs: Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with astounding Gershwin interpreter Kevin Cole on November 16, and Orff’s “Carmina Burana” on March 23 under the baton of guest conductor Kazuki Yamada featuring vocalists Amy Owens (soprano), Brian Stucki (tenor) and Christopher Clayton (baritone).

“This season, more than any before, reflects the Utah Symphony’s desire to reach new and more diverse audiences — through creative programming that connects the beauty of art with the beauty of our state, the new Unwound series that provides a more casual experience for next generation concertgoers, and new events for Utah’s growing Hispanic and Latino population,” said Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President and CEO Paul Meecham. “As we look back to celebrate the Utah Symphony’s 80th anniversary as one of the nation’s premier symphony orchestras, we continue to look forward as a creative, relevant jewel of our state and region.”


Multimedia Masterworks Concert Experiences
The Utah Symphony will bring an engaging, multimedia experience to various Masterworks concerts with music inspired by the natural world. Music Director Thierry Fischer conducts eight programs connected by the twelve movements of Oliver Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles,” which was inspired by the birds and rugged features of Southern Utah in the 1970s. The Masterworks Series prominently features programmatic works inspired by the natural world, including Holst’s “The Planets,” Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”, and “The Maze,” a new work written for concertmaster Madeline Adkins, inspired by the area of Canyonlands National Park. Many of these nature-inspired Masterworks will be paired with the movements from Messiaen’s work and visually accentuated on the giant screen inside Abravanel Hall with imagery in collaboration with local organizations including the Utah Office of Tourism, Clark Planetarium, Dark Sky Cooperative, KUED, The Nature Conservancy, Tracy Aviary, and the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Beethoven’s 250th birthday
The season includes the launch of a season-long celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020 with four Masterworks performances led by Maestro Fischer: Symphony No. 7 on February 21 and 22; Symphony No. 6 on April 24 and 25; Symphony No. 5 and Romance No. 1 with violinist Augustin Hadelich on May 1 and 2; and his third symphony (“Eroica”) on May 22 and 23.

Additional works by the composer will be featured throughout the season, including “The Consecration of the House” Overture on September 13 and 14 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the opening of Abravanel Hall; “Leonore” Overture No. 3 on January 3 and 4, 2020; and the Violin Concerto with international soloist Joshua Bell on May 16.

Utah Symphony 80th anniversary concert and gala
International superstar Joshua Bell joins the Utah Symphony’s concert and gala May 16, 2020, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Utah Symphony’s first performance, conducted by Hans Heniot on May 8, 1940 at Kingsbury Hall. Mr. Bell will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto conducted by Associate Conductor Conner Gray Covington, who will also direct orchestral showpieces from the Utah Symphony’s first concert, including Smetana’s “The Moldau” and J. Strauss Jr’s “Emperor Waltzes.”

UNWOUND series
During the 2019-20 season, the Utah Symphony expands UNWOUND, a casual concert series with shorter, intermission-free performances that launches in March 2019. Ticket buyers are invited to arrive early for entertainment and food on the plaza, and stay after the performance for Q&A and to mingle with other music lovers. Maestro Fischer will lead a performance of Gershwin classics including “Rhapsody in Blue” with guest pianist Kevin Cole on November 16, and Kazuki Yamada will conduct “Carmina Burana” on March 28.

Hispanic Heritage Celebrations
The orchestra pays homage to Hispanic Heritage beginning with an evening of celebration on September 16, Mexico’s Independence Day (El Grito). The program includes some of the greatest Latin-American composers and works, including Moncayo’s “Huapango” and Chávez’ “Sinfonia India,” of which John Cage once said it “is the land we all walk on made audible.” Mexican guest conductor and Musical America’s 2019 Conductor of the Year Carlos Miguel Prieto makes his Utah Symphony debut and also conducts a Masterworks program on November 8 and 9 exploring Afro-Cuban religious culture and the folk traditions of old Spain with Revueltas’ “Sensemayá” and Falla’s “Three-Cornered Hat” alongside Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Boris Giltburg. On November 1 and 2, the Utah Symphony will present on its Films in Concert Series the computer-animated fantasy “Coco,” inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration and which features an all-Latino cast.

Guest soloists sharing the stage
Seven internationally renowned piano soloists will take to the Abravanel Hall stage during the 2019-20 season, beginning with the Utah Symphony debut of 2016 International Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition winner Lukáš Vondráček performing Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini” on October 25 and 26; the return of Moscow-born, Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg, praised by the “Washington Post” for “broad dynamic palette capable of great surges of energy,” playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 on November 8 and 9; Gershwin specialist Kevin Cole performing “Second Rhapsody” for piano and orchestra, “Rhapsody in Blue” and “I got Rhythm” on his Masterworks debut with the orchestra November 15 and 16; Clara Haskil Competition winner Austrian Till Fellner’s Utah Symphony debut with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 on November 22 and 23; Grammy-nominated, Korea-born Joyce Yang playing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F on February 7 and 8; the Utah Symphony debut of Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi performing R. Schumann’s Piano Concerto on February 21 and 22; and the return of American pianist, noted Brahms interpreter and celebrated former Gina Bachauer first prize winner Nicholas Angelich performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 on April 10 and 11.

Other guest artists featured on Masterworks concerts include Berlin native Viviane Hagner performing Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante” on September 27 and 28; four-time Utah Symphony guest violinist Karen Gomyo’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on January 31 and February 1; American violinist Benjamin Beilman performing Lalo’s “Symphonie espagnole” on March 6 and 7; and organist Paul Jacobs with Handel’s “Cuckoo and Nightingale” and Barber’s “Toccata Festiva” on April 24 and 25.

Four Utah Symphony principal players are featured soloists on Masterworks programs: Principal Viola Brant Bayless performs in Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante” on September 27 and 28; Principal Keyboard Jason Hardink performs two solo piano movements from “Des canyons aux étoiles” on November 22 and 23, and April 24 and 25; Associate Concertmaster Kathryn Eberle plays Edgar Meyer’s genre-bending Violin Concerto on January 3 and 4; Concertmaster Madeline Adkins will play Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” and the world premiere of Nathan Lincoln de Cusatis’ “The Maze,” inspired by the remote area of Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah.

Vocalists and Choral Performances
Sopranos and altos of the Utah Symphony Chorus shine in the limelight during the first Masterworks program on September 13 and 14, which features an entire program devoted to the stars and skies above, including Holst’s “The Planets” and John Williams’ “Star Wars” theme. On December 13 and 14, the combined forces of the Utah Chamber Artists, University of Utah Chamber Choir and University of Utah A Cappella Choir perform Christmas carols arranged and conducted by Utah Symphony Chorus Director Barlow Bradford.

Guest Conductors
Guest conductors during the Utah Symphony’s 2019-20 season include Aziz Shokhakimov, the newly appointed Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Principal Guest Conductor at La Verdi Orchestra in Milan, making his debut conducting Mussorgsky / Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini,” and Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5” on October 25 and 26; the Utah Symphony debut of Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto on two programs—a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration featuring classical works from great Latin American composers on September 16, and a Masterworks Series concert with music by Revueltas, Rachmaninoff, and Falla on November 8 and 9; the Masterworks Series debut of Utah Symphony Associate Conductor Conner Gray Covington on January 3 and 4 featuring Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture No. 3, Edgar Meyer’s Violin Concerto, Arlene Sierra’s “Moler” and Debussy’s “La mer”; the third return of preeminent Baroque Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie on January 10 and 11 on a mostly-Mozart program with Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony”; Music Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec Fabien Gabel on March 6 and 7 on a Spanish-influenced program in his Utah Symphony debut; and the fourth Utah Symphony appearance for Kazuki Yamada, the Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, leading the orchestra on “Carmina Burana” on March 27 and 28.

Entertainment, Family, and Special Event Concert Series
On the 2019-20 Entertainment Series, the orchestra will feature The Music of John Williams on September  20 and 21; A Broadway Christmas with vocalist Ashley Brown and The Madeleine Choir School on December 6 and 7; a tribute to female empowerment and the 19th Amendment as part of “Better Days 2020” with legendary ladies including the music of Carole King, Holly Knight, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin on Women Rock! on February 14 and 15, 2020; a screening of “Singin’ in the Rain” on February  28 and 29; and 1960s Motown sensation, The Temptations, on April  17 and 18, 2020.

Family and special event performances announced include ¡Celebración Sinfónica! on September 16, 2019; the 60th anniversary Salute to Youth on September 24, 2019; the annual Handel “Messiah” Sing-in holiday favorite tradition on November 30 and December 1; the annual “Here Comes Santa Claus!” concert on December 7; “Carnival of the Animals” featuring Children’s Dance Theatre on March 21, and the 80th anniversary gala with Joshua Bell on May 16, 2020.

Additional events—including the complete Films in Concert Series, Utah Opera’s 2019-20 season, and performances presented in venues other than Abravanel Hall—will be announced at a later date.

New Recording Releases
The release of an all-Berlioz album in 2020 features four works by Hector Berlioz recorded live during February 2019 in two programs for release on Hyperion Records. The first program, on February 1 and 2, 2019, featured the composer’s best-known work, “Symphonie fantastique,” which Maestro Fischer conducted in his Utah Symphony debut in October 2007 prior to his appointment as Music Director. The second program, on February 8 and 9, 2019, featured three of Berlioz’ lesser-known works: “Sara la baigneuse” for three choruses and orchestra, featuring the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs; “La mort d’Ophélie,” the second movement of “Tristia” for orchestra and chorus, also featuring the Symphony Chorus and University Choirs; and “Rêverie et caprice” for violin and orchestra, featuring the Utah Symphony’s 2018-19 Artist-in-Association Philippe Quint as soloist.

This all-Berlioz album is the Utah Symphony’s second recording project with Hyperion Records. Maestro Fischer and the Utah Symphony first recorded for the label during the 2017-18 season when the orchestra launched its currently in-progress Saint-Saëns symphony recording cycle, the first ever undertaken by an American orchestra. The first disc in the three-part series was released January 2019, and the second installment is scheduled to be released this in spring 2020.

During the 2019-20 season, the orchestra will also release an all-Prokofiev SACD on Reference Recordings featuring two of the composer’s film-inspired scores: the symphonic suite from “Lieutenant Kijé” and the “Alexander Nevsky” Cantata. The album recorded live Utah Symphony performances conducted by Music Director Thierry Fischer in Abravanel Hall on November 18 and 19, 2016. This will be the fourth live album released by the Orchestra and Maestro Fischer on Reference Recordings: Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 “Titan” was released in September 2015, and a recording of world premiere commissions by three American composers, entitled “Dawn to Dust,” was released in April 2016. Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 “Symphony of a Thousand” was recorded with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The Madeleine Choir School on February 19 and 20, 2016, inside the Salt Lake Tabernacle as part of the O.C Tanner Gift of Music concert series and released on Reference Recordings in 2017.