Women of Note Featured in Utah Symphony’s First Concerts of 2020

Associate Concertmaster Kathryn Eberle, composer Arlene Sierra, and acclaimed mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard featured.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (December 13, 2019) – The Utah Symphony Masterworks series’ first performances of 2020 kick off on January 3-4 with Utah Symphony Associate Conductor Conner Gray Covington returning to the podium following his acclaimed early debut in November and the first of many celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. On January 9-11 one of the greatest living mezzo-sopranos, Isabel Leonard along with conductor Bernard Labadie will join Utah Symphony for an evening of highlights from Mozart’s operatic and concert catalogue. Highlights for the performances include Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture No. 3 and Debussy’s “La mer” on January 3-4, and three pieces from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” on January 9-11.


The Masterworks series is set to kick off 2020 on January 3 & 4 with Associate Conductor Conner Gray Covington and the Utah Symphony bringing the tides and temperaments of the mighty ocean with Debussy’s “La mer” to the stage.

The program opens with the slow unfolding of Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture No. 3. Making its way through a rollercoaster of emotion, its descending scale evokes feelings of loneliness and isolation before reaching its core and a breathless utterance of hope.

Kathryn Eberle is the Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony and the newly-appointed Concert-master of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in Los Angeles. Ms. Eberle also performs annually as a soloist with the Utah Symphony and has had other solo appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Nashville Symphony, and the Bahia Symphony in Brazil, among others.

Commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and later nominated for a Latin Grammy award, Arlene Sierra’s “Moler” suggests both the process of abrasion in the natural world and the human actions in the kitchen or workplace.

Closing the night is “La mer” by Debussy. Meant to represent a day at sea, the music rolls and surges like the sea itself. This piece is a gorgeous sensual evocation of the sea in all of its variety.

Conner Gray Covington is in his third season with the Utah Symphony as Associate Conductor and was recently named Principal Conductor of the Deer Valley® Music Festival, the summer home of the Utah Symphony. This season, he makes his subscription debut with the Utah Symphony and also conducts a gala performance with Joshua Bell. Previously Mr. Covington was the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He has also worked as a guest conductor with the symphonies of St. Louis, Utah, Virginia, Portland (ME), among others.


Our January 9, 10 & 11 Masterworks performances will feature international operatic sensation mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as she sings highlights from Mozart’s operatic and concert catalogue. Returning to Utah Symphony is Guest Conductor Bernard Labadie.

The Utah Symphony at The Noorda Center for the Performing Arts on January 9 is supported in part by a generous grant from the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

The first half of the evening begins with pieces from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” The opera’s well-known overture, beginning with five notes: a quick trill that starts on the first tone of the major scale, tugging us eagerly by the sleeve before pulling us into a joyful overture that only gets more intense as it progresses. Much of the romantic hubbub in the opera is propelled by Cherubino, a comic character whose charm and energy steal every scene he’s in. Sung by a mezzo-soprano—i.e., “in disguise” as a male—Cherubino is an adolescent boy who gets an immediate crush on every woman he sees.. In “Non so più” you can hear the breathlessness and desperation but by “Voi Che sapete,” he is calmer, and he beseeches the more experienced Susanna and the Countess Almoviva to counsel him in love.

Following, are two excerpts from Mozart’s “La clemenza di Tito.” A study of the conflicts between civic duty, personal loyalty, and romantic love, “La clemenza di Tito” proves love can make good people do bad things. A victim of this, the character Sesto sings “Deh, per questo instante solo.” Conflicting emotions of remorse, love, and a longing for punishment are interwoven into the DNA of this opera.

The sheer joy of expression in “Exsultate, jubilate” brings to mind the exhortation from Psalm 100 to make a joyful noise and to come before His presence with singing. This three-movement religious motet was composed for the castrato singer Venanzino Rauzzini in 1773. By the time it reaches its third movement, the Allelujah, Ms. Leonard will be in the thick of the piece’s most difficult and well-known section of Mozart’s motet.

Closing the evening is Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 “Italian,” inspired by the grand tour of Europe that occupied the composer from 1829 to 1831. Already in his late teens and early twenties he was broadly educated and a mature composer. Embracing the Italian culture and landscape, he referenced this piece as “the jolliest piece I have ever done, especially the last movement.” Achieving the impossible, “Italian” captures life’s smallest details from the brilliance of the sun to the vibrancy of the wine.

Isabel Leonard is a multiple Grammy Award-winning artist who thrills audiences both in the opera house and on the concert stage. In repertoire that spans from Vivaldi to Mozart to Thomas Adès, she has graced the stages of the Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bavarian State Opera, Carnegie Hall, as well as many others. Ms. Leonard is in constant demand as a recitalist and is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Leonard is the recipient of the Richard Tucker Award and has lent her voice, in honor of her father who died from the disease, to the Prostate Cancer Foundation by filming a public service announcement.

Bernard Labadie is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading conductors of the Baroque and Classical repertoire. He founded Les Violons du Roy and was their Music Director for three decades. He continues to be Music Director of his extraordinary choir, La Chapelle de Québec, which he founded in 1985. In September 2018 he began his tenure as Music Director of the Orchestra of St Luke ’s, New York. Honors include “Officer of the Order of Canada” awarded by the Canadian Government and “Chevalier de l ’Ordre National du Québec.”