Showing posts with label Utah Symphony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Utah Symphony. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Time for Three at the Waterfall

Last night my friend Angela and I had the opportunity to attend another outdoor concert, this time at the Waterfall Amphitheater at Thanksgiving Point.  It was another concert featuring the Utah Symphony with special guests Time for Three, a string trio made up of Ranaan Meyer, Charles Yang, and Nicolas Kendall.  I saw Time for Three several years ago at Red Butte Garden and I loved their performance so much that I knew I wanted to see them again.  All three of them are classically trained musicians but they come across more like rock stars.  They are known for their mash-ups of classical pieces with contemporary music and this concert was absolutely brilliant!  The Utah Symphony began with "The Star-Spangled Banner" and then Time for Three took the stage with a medley from Hamilton.  Obviously I absolutely loved that!  Then they played three pieces which were written specifically for them, "Vertigo," "Banjo Love," and "Darling Calypso." and I enjoyed all of them.  Then they played a mash-up of "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles and "Lacrymosa" from Mozart's Requiem.  This was absolutely amazing and I was pretty much overcome by it.  Before the intermission they did another mash-up, this time it was Saint-Saens' "Organ Symphony" with "Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve which I also really loved.  After the intermission they played yet another mash-up with "Sweet Child O Mine" by Guns N' Roses and selections from Kindertotenlieder by Gustav Mahler.  This was so lovely and atmospheric. They then played a beautiful rendition of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen and concluded the concert with "Songs of Joy" which was an epic arrangement.  As an encore the orchestra played "Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Philip Sousa.  I enjoyed this concert so much.  The Waterfall Amphitheater is such a lovely venue with beautiful gardens all around and the temperature was just perfect for a concert with a slight breeze.  After the concert there was a fireworks show behind the waterfall which was quite festive and got me excited for the Fourth of July!  The perfect ending to a wonderful evening!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pirates of the Caribbean in Concert

I have become a huge fan of Utah Symphony's Films in Concert series and seeing the latest, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, last night was an absolute blast!  It has been quite a while since I've seen this movie but I quickly remembered why it is my very favorite in the franchise.  This is where we meet Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) for the first time in a swashbuckling tale about trying to reverse a curse on the crew of the Black Pearl.  The movie has a lot of great action sequences and Johnny Depp is so much fun to watch.  Having the iconic score by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer played live by the Utah Symphony, along with a men's chorus, was absolutely thrilling.  The music is very energetic and I really liked all of the melodies played by the horns.  I particularly liked the music played during Will and Jack's sword fight, during the pirate attack on Port Royal, when Elizabeth finds out abut the curse of the Black Pearl, during the battle between the Black Pearl and the Interceptor, and when the pirates fight the crew of the Dauntless.  There was a huge crowd at Abravanel Hall which added to the festive atmosphere and that crowd erupted into a standing ovation during the final credits.  So much fun.  If you were not in attendance last night, cheer up me hearties because it will be screened again tonight (go here for tickets).

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Utah Symphony at the Gallivan Plaza

In the summertime there is nothing I enjoy more than attending some kind of performance outside under the stars.  Last night my friend Angela and I went to a free outdoor concert at the Gallivan Plaza downtown featuring the Utah Symphony.  It was absolutely wonderful!  I brought a blanket and a picnic and thoroughly enjoyed the music and the breeze.  The orchestra played Huapango by Jose Pablo Moncayo, Symphony No. 25 by Mozart, Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Marquez, and Symphony No. 8 by Antonin Dvorak.  For the encore they played Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa.  Such a fun selection of music!  I really enjoyed hearing Mozart but all of the pieces were lively and exuberant, perfect for a summer evening.  The Utah Symphony will be performing in many outdoor venues this summer and I highly recommend getting a ticket to one of these concerts (go here for information and tickets).

Note:  The people watching was superb last night!  Don't get me started on the three couples sitting next to us...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2

Last night my friend Angela and I went to the final Utah Symphony performance of the 2017-2018 season and it was such an amazing concert!  In my opinion a performance featuring Rachmaninoff was a great way to end what has been a fantastic season!  The orchestra began with a piece commissioned by the Utah Symphony called Reflections by Tristan Murail.  It is very modern but, as explained by Thierry Fischer, it is a contemplative piece where the instruments mimic the tides and the wind and their ability to withstand adversity.  I found it to be very soothing.  Next Concertmaster Madeleine Adkins was the featured soloist in a performance of Korngold's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.  I had never heard this piece before and I thought it was beautiful.  I especially loved the third movement because it was very lively and the violin sounded a lot like a fiddle.  Adkins gave a spectacular performance (I really like her and I like the fact that the Concertmaster is a woman) and she received a thunderous standing ovation.  After the intermission the orchestra played Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.  Rachmaninoff is one of my favorite composers so I enjoyed this immensely.  I think that the fanfare played by the horns in the second movement is so quintessentially Russian and I think that the main theme played in the third movement is especially romantic.  It was such a lovely concert and it was a great way to celebrate the end of the school year!

Note:  I am really looking forward to seeing the Utah Symphony perform in some outdoor venues this summer, particularly a performance with Sutton Foster at Deer Valley!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Richard Strauss' Don Quixote & Zarathustra

Last week I went to a Utah Symphony concert with my friend Angela and this week I persuaded my sister to come along.  I usually really enjoy doing things by myself but I have to admit that it has been kind of nice being social lately!  I invited my sister along because she plays the cello and last night's concert featured Rainer Eudeikis, the Principal Cello.  The entire program highlighted the music of Richard Strauss and it was absolutely epic!  The concert began with Serenade in E-flat Major which is a lovely piece featuring the woodwinds and the horns.  Since I played the clarinet in school I enjoyed this very much.  Next, the orchestra played Don Quixote, with the aforementioned Rainer Eudikis on cello and Brant Bayless on viola.  This amazing piece is, of course, based on the novel by Miguel Cervantes and if you are at all familiar with the story it is uncanny how the various instruments mimic the action!  The cello represents Don Quixote, a old man who thinks that he is a knight is pursuit of an adventure, and the viola represents Sancho Panza, his loyal sidekick.  There are ten variations which tell the story and my favorites are when Don Quixote mistakes a bunch of sheep for an army because the brass sound just like the bleating of sheep, when he mistakes a group of pilgrims as kidnappers because the brass, once again, mimic the singing of liturgical chants, and the death of Don Quixote because I always think of the cello as a mournful sounding instrument and the final note depicting the old knight's last gasp is heartbreaking!  After the intermission, the orchestra played Also sprach Zarathustra which I found to be absolutely exhilarating!  I have never heard this piece performed live before but it is instantly recognizable if you have seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  In fact, I can never hear the opening fanfare without thinking of the movie!  This piece is simply spectacular and I loved hearing it live!  I suggest you get a ticket for this epic evening of music (go here).

Note:  One of the perks of having a companion for the symphony is being able to go out to dinner!  Last week it was the Cheesecake Factory and this week it was the Garden Restaurant!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fischer Conducts Shostakovich

It has been a fun and busy week and I capped it off with a Utah Symphony concert with my friend Angela.  It is so nice to have a friend who likes classical music as much as I do and we had an absolutely wonderful evening.  After the lovely concert featuring the music of Dmitri Shostakovich we walked to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert and met with some rowdy fans who had just come from seeing the Jazz beat the Thunder to advance to the next round in the playoffs!  So much fun!  The orchestra began with Piano Concerto No. 1 featuring Boris Giltburg on piano and Travis Peterson on trumpet.  I found this piece to be a bit mercurial because at times it was very stirring but one of the themes played by the trumpet was so mournful.  Boris Giltburg joined the orchestra once more for Piano Concerto No. 2 and this was my favorite piece of the evening.  The first movement was bold and dramatic with all of the strings playing in unison.  The second movement was almost unbearably romantic and it brought spontaneous tears to my eyes.  The third movement was very playful and lively.  I really loved this and I enjoyed Giltburg's performance because he was so energetic.  After the intermission the orchestra concluded with Symphony No 10 which was incredibly moody and atmospheric.  I especially enjoyed all of the themes played by the woodwinds throughout and I loved the almost plaintive theme played by the solo horn in the third movement.  I was also very moved by the triumphant ending!  I love the Russian composers so much and, because Shostakovich is a particular favorite of mine, I enjoyed this concert immensely!  The same program is being performed again tonight and tickets may be purchased here.  I highly recommend it! 

Note:  I've been spoiled this season with so many concerts featuring Russian composers.  My final concert of the season will feature my favorite: Rachmaninoff!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Grieg's Piano Concerto with Alexandra Dariescu

I have to admit that I bought a ticket to last night's Utah Symphony concert because I am a huge fan of Sibelius but I ended up loving all three of the pieces performed and enjoyed myself immensely!  The orchestra began with Carl Nielsen's Helios Overture and I loved it!  It began with a beautiful and contemplative theme, representing the sun rising above the sea, and then became very powerful with a soaring melody played by the horns followed by a triumphant fanfare by the trumpets.  The piece ended just as mysteriously as it began as the sun set and I found it to be quite breathtaking!  Then the orchestra was joined by Alexandra Dariescu for Edvard Grieg's spectacular Piano Concerto.  Dariescu may have been wearing a sparkly gold dress but it was her playing that dazzled the audience as her fingers flew up and down the keyboard.  From the instantly recognizable opening notes to the dramatic conclusion, I absolutely loved it!  After the intermission came the piece that I had been waiting for: Symphony No. 2 by Jean Sibelius!  In my opinion, Sibelius is every bit as passionate and emotional as the Russian composers but he is a bit more stately and restrained.  Symphony No. 2 is incredibly dramatic and I especially enjoyed the theme played by the cellos in the first movement because it is very atmospheric.  I found the second movement to be filled with tension and I loved the energy in the third movement.  There was a full house at Abravanel Hall last night with good reason!  This concert is not to be missed and, luckily, it will be repeated tonight (go here for tickets).

Note:  When I bought this ticket I thought that I was unfamiliar with Grieg but I immediately recognized the Piano Concerto as soon as I heard the opening notes!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tchaikovsky's "Little Russian" & Prokofiev with Conrad Tao

It was certainly an incredibly dramatic evening at Abravanel Hall last night.  The Utah Symphony performed a concert featuring works by Sergei Prokofiev and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky under the baton of an exciting guest conductor, Karina Canellakis.  I really love the Russian composers so I thoroughly enjoyed this concert (my final two concerts this season feature Shostakovitch and Rachmaninoff so I am looking forward to them, as well).  The orchestra began with Le Chasseur maudit (The Accursed Huntsman) by Cesar Franck.  Although I was unfamiliar with this piece it was very easy to picture the events depicted.  A count disregards the Sabbath by hunting and, as he chases his prey, he is also pursued by demons who wish to damn his soul.  I loved the opening fanfare by the horns, representing the hunt, followed by the chimes, signifying church bells.  It was very dark and atmospheric.  Next the orchestra was joined by the brilliant Conrad Tao for Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2.  Tao is a very popular soloist and I always try to see him when he joins the Utah Symphony (I missed his performance in February because I had the flu) because he is so much fun to watch.  His fingers literally flew up and down the keyboard, especially in the wild and tumultuous first movement.  After the intermission the orchestra played Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 "Little Russian." This piece incorporates many Russian folk songs and I found it to be both stirring and whimsical, especially the final movement with themes played by the woodwinds.  I enjoyed this thrilling concert so much and I recommend getting a ticket for tonight's performance featuring the same program (go here).

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Audra McDonald with the Utah Symphony

Last night was a celebration of musical theatre at Abravanel Hall with the incomparable Audra McDonald and the Utah Symphony.  It was an amazing concert which gave me goosebumps as she belted out showstoppers and brought tears to my eyes as she reminded us that love is the reason for everything.  Let's just say that I won't forget this night any time soon.  I had the privilege of seeing McDonald perform with the Utah Symphony in 2002 as part of the Cultural Olympiad held in conjunction with the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.  It was my first introduction to her and I was so impressed by her beautiful and powerful voice!  I knew that I definitely wanted to see her perform live again and I am so glad that I got a ticket!  Her program featured a variety of selections from musical theatre that spanned decades from Rogers and Hammerstein to Gershwin to many new composers.  My favorites included a sultry rendition of "Moonshine Lullaby" from Annie Get Your Gun, "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, "Simple Little Things" from 110 in the Shade, "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, "Ice Cream" from She Loves Me, "I'll Be Here" from Ordinary Days, and "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady.  She was so personable and charming, telling stories and interacting with the audience all evening.  She mentioned how much she loves Utah because her husband's family lives here and she spoke quite often about her children.  It felt very intimate, like she was performing in a small club rather than in Abravanel Hall.  I was sad to see the concert come to an end because it was so wonderful but McDonald gave the audience a treat by singing an incredibly passionate rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from The Sound of Music to finish her set.  After a thunderous standing ovation, she came back to the stage to sing a lovely version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz.  Sometimes I am amazed at all of the opportunities we have to see Broadway stars perform right here in Salt Lake City!  I highly recommend getting a ticket to see one of the best from Broadway perform the same program tonight (go here) if there are any to be had because Abravanel Hall was packed last night!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

High Noon in Concert

I can't tell you how much I have been enjoying Utah Symphony's Films in Concert Series.  To see a film on the big screen while the Utah Symphony plays the score live is an incredible sensory experience.  Last night I got to see High Noon while the orchestra played Dimitri Tiomkin's Academy Award winning score.  I recently saw this film on the big screen and the only part of the score I really remembered is the ballad "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" which is repeated several times.  However, the music is very powerful, as is the film itself!  Convicted killer Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) is on the noon train to Hadleyville with a score to settle with Will Kane (Gary Cooper), the Marshal responsible for convicting him.  The problem is that Kane has recently married Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), a Quaker who abhors violence, and is on his way out of town when he hears the news of Frank's arrival.  He decides to return, against Amy's wishes, and tries to recruit deputies to stand with him to no avail.  He must face Miller and three members of his gang alone at high noon.  As I mentioned, the music is incredibly powerful, particularly the themes played when Kane fights his former Deputy Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges) who is bitter at not being promoted to Marshal in a barn, when Amy kills a member of the gang (the audience cheered and applauded at this moment), and during the final confrontation between Kane and Miller.  I also really liked the chimes as the hands on the clock reach noon (the action happens in real time). These concerts have become my favorite thing to do because they combine two of my favorite things: film and the Utah Symphony! High Noon is such an iconic film so I thoroughly enjoyed this concert!

Note:  I am so glad that the Utah Symphony is continuing this series!  I have tickets to see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl this summer and the films for next season were recently announced:  Ghostbusters, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Casablanca, Star Wars: A New Hope, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I am so excited for all of them!  Go here for more information.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Mozart & Haydn

It was mostly Mozart (with a little Haydn thrown in for good measure) last night at Abravanel Hall and, since Mozart is my very favorite composer, I have been looking forward to this concert all week!  Under the baton of guest conductor Patrick Dupre Quigley, the orchestra began with the Overture to Cosi fan tutte which is such a fun opera.  Listening to this brought back happy memories of attending this opera with my cousin.  Next, soloist Ronald Brautigam joined the orchestra for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9.  With his mane of curly white hair, Brautigam was so much fun to watch in a brilliant performance.  I especially loved the second movement because it seemed a bit more somber and introspective in tone but I also loved the third movement because is was so lighthearted and playful, especially the call and response between the piano and orchestra.  After the intermission the orchestra played what is probably Mozart's most recognized piece (you can probably hear the opening theme in your head tight now), Eine kleine Nachtmusik.  It is one of my favorite pieces by Mozart and it was absolutely delightful to hear it performed live.  It is so light, airy, and beautiful and listening to it after a long and tiring day made me so happy!  The concert concluded with Haydn's Symphony No. 99.  This piece was also very lighthearted and it really complimented the selections by Mozart very well.  The concert was simply delightful and I highly recommend getting a ticket to tonight's performance featuring the same program (go here).  All of the pieces performed are very accessible so this would be a great choice for those who have never been to a symphony concert before (check out this post for a guide to listening to classical music).

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Fischer Conducts Rachmaninoff & Stravinsky

Most Friday nights you can find me at Abravanel Hall attending a Utah Symphony concert.  I go so often that the ushers recognize me and one even called me by name last night!  She explained to the couple ahead of me in line, in minute detail, where they were sitting but when I presented my ticket she greeted me like a long lost friend and said that I certainly didn't need any help finding my seat!  It made me laugh!  How could I miss a concert featuring Rachmaninoff?  This is the third concert this season to feature one of my very favorite composers and I couldn't be happier.  Last night's concert began with Funeral Song by Stravinsky.  Thierry Fischer addressed the audience for the second week in a row (I find him to be utterly charming) to tell us that this is the first time that the orchestra has ever played this piece in Abravanel Hall.  Stravinsky wrote it in honor of Rimsky-Korsakov and I loved it because it was very somber and atmospheric.  Next came Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1. Squeal!  I love this piece so much because it is so dramatic and emotional.  The orchestra was joined by Stephen Hough on piano and he was absolutely brilliant!  I loved watching his fingers fly across the keyboard!  After the intermission the orchestra played The Firebird by Stravinsky.  This was commissioned by Serge Diaghilev for the Ballet Russes and tells the story of how Prince Ivan spares the life of the Firebird and, in gratitude, it returns when summoned by Ivan to defeat the evil Koschei the Immortal.  There were supertitles projected on the screen to tell the story but I could understand what was happening just by listening to the music because it evoked so many images, especially during the "Infernal Dance."  I really liked the themes played by the flute (to me the flute represented the Firebird), the use of three harps to create a magical world, and a trumpet fanfare performed from the balcony.  Once again, it was a wonderful concert and I definitely recommend getting a ticket to tonight's performance (go here for tickets).

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Hilary Hahn plays Dvorak's Violin Concerto

Now that the holidays are over (I will resume my winter break movie commentaries tomorrow) I went back to my usual Friday night ritual!  I found myself at Abravanel Hall for a thrilling Utah Symphony concert featuring the music of Haydn and Dvorak.  Despite what it said in the program, the orchestra began with the exciting and energetic Slavonic Dance No. 8 with an equally energetic Thierry Fischer on the podium!  After this piece, Fischer addressed the audience telling us that a new year should be filled with contrasts and surprises and so the orchestra would alternate between the movements of Haydn's Symphony No. 8 and Dvorak's Slavonic Dances (six of them).  This made for a very lively evening as I eagerly anticipated what I would hear next because I kind of lost track of which was which and just enjoyed the music without overthinking it.  The two pieces worked surprisingly well together and I loved Fischer's enthusiasm!  My favorite was the second movement of the Haydn because it is romantic and contemplative with just a hint of melancholy and the orchestra played it with a lot of expression.  After the intermission the orchestra returned to play Dvorak's Violin Concerto with Hilary Hahn, a frequent guest of the Utah Symphony, as the soloist.  It is easy to see why Abravanel Hall was packed almost to capacity because Hahn is such a dynamic and brilliant performer.  I loved watching her fingers fly across her violin and I definitely enjoyed her performance.  So did the rest of the crowd who jumped to their feat in a thunderous ovation!  She was brought back to the stage numerous times and even favored us with a beautiful encore.  It was a spectacular evening and I recommend getting a ticket for tonight's performance of the same program (go here).

Note:  I almost always get a ticket to the first Utah Symphony concert of the year because it is usually so hard to go back to school after the holidays and I need something to look forward to in order to make it through!    However, I had a great week with my students so this concert was the cherry on top!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert

Last Christmas the Utah Symphony showed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on the big screen with the score played live by the orchestra.  I absolutely loved it and, at the time, I hoped that they would continue with the whole series of films.  It seems as if they are because this year they showed the next film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and I got to see it last night!  This film follows Harry Potter's second year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when the Heir of Slytherin opens the Chamber of Secrets which causes several students (as well as Mrs. Norris!) to be petrified after viewing the monster that is unleashed.  It was so much fun to see this on the big screen again and having the Utah Symphony play the lush score composed by John Williams added so much to the experience.  There was not an empty seat at Abravanel Hall and the crowd, many in costume, was extremely enthusiastic.  There were cheers and applause when every character appeared on screen for the first time (especially Professor Snape) and for all of Harry's adventures including the flying Ford Anglia, the Polyjuice Potion, the spider Aragorn, and the battle with the basilisk.  I especially enjoyed seeing Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) because they were so little and I thought Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) was hilarious!  It was such a fun night!  If you have not seen a movie in concert with a live orchestra I highly recommend it if you have the chance!  The Utah Symphony just announced that they will be showing Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in June and I am really excited!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony

It was an evening featuring the music of Camille Saint-Saens last night at Abravanel Hall and it was absolutely lovely.  Several years ago one of my colleagues, knowing how much I enjoy classical music, recommended a concert featuring Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony and I enjoyed it immensely.  Now I try to see it whenever I can and when I learned that the Utah Symphony would be performing it this season I immediately got a ticket.  While I picked this concert for the Organ Symphony, I really loved the other Saint-Saens pieces that were performed as well.  The orchestra began with the "Bacchanale" from the opera Samson and Delilah.  I had never heard this before and it is incredibly exotic and stirring.  The finale is absolutely spectacular featuring a crescendo of timpani!  This was followed by Trois Tableaux symphoniques d'apres La Foi, which is incidental music for a play of the same name by Eugene Brieux, and I have to say that this is now one of my favorite pieces because it is beautiful.  I loved the themes played by the harp which are also incredibly exotic.  Harpist Louise Vickerman gave me goosebumps!  I also really loved the themes played by the woodwinds and the trombone solo.  After the intermission the orchestra was joined by Paul Jacobs, the chair of the organ department at The Julliard School, for Symphony No. 3, better known as the Organ Symphony.  It was magnificent!  I especially loved the second movement because there is a theme played by both the organ and the strings in unison with an accompaniment of timpani and cymbals.  So dramatic!  I enjoyed this entire concert so much and I recommend getting a ticket to tonight's performance of the same program (go here for tickets).

Note:  This concert was recorded for commercial release as part of the Utah Symphony's project to become the first American symphony to record all five of Saint-Saens' symphonies.  I will definitely be purchasing these CDs because Saint-Saens is becoming one of my favorite composers.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

I have been anticipating last night's Utah Symphony concert for weeks!  It featured one of my favorite guest conductors, Mark Wigglesworth (with a name like that how can you not love him?), one of my favorite soloists, Jon Kimura Parker, and one of my favorite pieces by one of my favorite composers, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff!  It was worth the wait because it was a never-to-be-forgotten night at Abravanel Hall (stop reading right now and go here for a ticket to tonight's performance of the same program).  The orchestra began with the Overture to Rossini's The Barber of Seville, an opera I really enjoy.  As wonderful as this performance was, honestly, I could hardly contain myself waiting for Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  I love this piece so much because it is deeply emotional and lush but I especially love the 18th variation (it is featured in the movie Somewhere in Time) because it is so unbearably romantic and I was literally swooning.  Parker gave an incredibly passionate performance and I loved watching his fingers fly up and down the keyboard.  The audience was also thrilled with his performance and gave him a thundering ovation after which he played "Blues Etude" by Oscar Peterson as an encore!  After the intermission the orchestra played Edward Elgar's Symphony No. 1.  I really loved the stately theme (Elgar also composed Pomp and Circumstance) played in variations throughout the piece.  The stirring conclusion (I loved the harps) was a wonderful way to end an amazing concert.

Note:  So far I have spent every weekend in November at Abravanel Hall.  Next weekend I will be taking a break for another one of my passions: hockey!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mozart's Great Mass

November is shaping up to be a wonderful month for Utah Symphony concerts!  Last week I got to hear the music of Rachmaninoff and last night I got to hear the music of Mozart (both of whom are favorites of mine).  The orchestra began last night's concert with Four Preludes and Serious Songs by Johannes Brahms with an arrangement by Detlev Glanert.  I really enjoyed this piece because it is a dark and mournful meditation on death which ultimately ends in triumph.  The orchestra was joined by Patrick Carfizzi who gave an incredible vocal performance and, of course, I really loved the woodwinds.  After the intermission the audience heard a magnificent performance of Mozart's "Great Mass."  I think that the Requiem Mass will always be my favorite piece by Mozart but this is definitely a close second.  The orchestra was joined by the University of Utah Chamber Choir and The Utah Symphony Chorus and soloists Celena Shafer, Sarah Shafer, Thomas Cooley, and Patrick Carfizzi.  The soloists were amazing, especially Celena Shafer who was last seen by Utah audiences as Musetta in Utah Opera's production of La Boheme.  The music in this mass is so beautiful and so powerful.  Listening to all of those voices was almost overwhelming so sometimes I just closed my eyes and let the music carry me away.  It was a beautiful concert, one that will be repeated at Abravanel Hall tonight.  I definitely recommend getting a ticket (go here).

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances

If you read this blog on a regular basis you surely know by now that I absolutely love all of the Russian composers and that Rachmaninoff is my very favorite of all the Russians (with Tchaikovsky a close second).  So a program featuring his Symphonic Dances was definitely on the top of my list when I was creating my season package.  However, this concert also featured two pieces which made me think about putting Maurice Ravel on my list of favorite composers.  When I think of Ravel I automatically think of Bolero, which I love, but the pieces performed last night were absolutely wonderful as well.  The orchestra began with Ma Mere l'Oye (Mother Goose) and it was so enchanting and whimsical, telling the stories of Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, The Princess of the Pagodas, Beauty and the Beast, and The Fairy Garden. I especially loved it when the instruments would mimic the sounds of nature, such as chirping.  I really, really loved the themes played by the harp in this piece!  The orchestra also played Ravel's Tzigane, which means gypsy.  I was absolutely blown away by the lengthy opening which featured the solo violin, played by Utah native William Hagen.  His performance was incredibly passionate just like a gypsy.  Once again I loved the harp in this piece (Ravel must have been in love with a harpist at one time).  Hagen also joined the orchestra for the stirring Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra by Camille Saint-Saens (a composer already on my list of favorites).  What I loved most about this piece is that it starts slow with themes played mostly by the solo violin repeated at intervals and then it becomes a dazzling display of virtuosity.  Hagen's bow literally flew across his violin!  Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances came after the intermission and all I can say is "Wow!"  This piece always suggests a longing for Russia to me and I think it is romantic and emotional.  I really love all of the themes played by the woodwinds  and the horns.  The orchestra played it beautifully and I had tears in my eyes at its conclusion!  It was a spectacular evening of music at Abravanel Hall last night and this program will be performed again tonight.  I highly recommend getting a ticket (go here).

Note:  I get more Rachmaninoff in two weeks because the Utah Symphony will be performing Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  Sigh!  You should probably get tickets to that concert, too!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Broadway Divas

Last night the Utah Symphony was joined by Christina Bianco, Christina DeCicco, N'Kenge, and Kristen Plumley for an amazing evening of Broadway standards.  I loved this concert so much and every song gave me goosebumps!  The orchestra, under the baton of guest conductor Jack Everly, began with the Overture to Gypsy.  Kristen Plumley was the first diva to perform with a beautiful rendition of "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady.  Then Christina DeCicco gave an affecting performance of "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables and I may or may not have had tears in my eyes at the end of it!  N'Kenge delivered a sultry "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess and the orchestra played the Overture from Chicago.  One of my very favorite moments came next when DeCicco belted out "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.  I think they are still looking for the roof of Abravanel Hall because she definitely blew it off!  Before the intermission, all of the divas performed "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from Show Boat which was fantastic.  The orchestra returned with the Overture to Funny Girl then another one of my favorite moments came when N'Kenge sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls.  All I can say is, "Wow!"  Plumley gave a powerful rendition of "Think of Me" from The Phantom of the Opera, as Carlotta, of course, and she was in full diva mode!  Christina Bianco gave some hilarious impersonations of famous divas singing their signature songs including: Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Bernadette Peters, Celine Dion, Judy Garland, and Kristen Chenowith.  This brought the house down!  DeCicco and Plumley gave a lovely performance of "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" from West Side Story then N'Kenge and DeCicco sang "Mein Herr" and "Maybe This Time," respectively, from Cabaret.  To finish the set, Bianco sang "If He Walked Into My Life" from Mame, which is a song I had never heard before.  For the finale, all four of the divas sang "Let It Go" from Frozen.  This was so fun for me to hear after seeing the musical in Denver last month!  I always love the Bravo Broadway concerts programmed by the Utah Symphony and this one was especially wonderful! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert

I am a huge fan of Utah Symphony's Films in Concert series because it is so much fun to watch a movie on the big screen at Abravanel Hall while the orchestra performs the score live!  Last night I had the opportunity to see The Nightmare Before Christmas and, frankly, I had been looking forward to it for months.  It was the perfect way to get excited for Halloween (my favorite holiday).  Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King and leader of Halloween Town, is getting bored with scaring everyone with the same old tricks every year, so when he accidentally discovers Christmas Town while wandering in the woods, he decides that Christmas is a more appealing holiday and that he should take it over this year.  Santa Claus is kidnapped and all of the residents of Halloween Town are put to work making terrifying toys to disastrous effect.  Will Santa Claus be able to save Christmas in time?  I love this movie because of the spectacular world-building using stop-motion animation.  Only Tim Burton could dream up such a macabre, yet strangely enchanting, world filled with quirky characters and dazzling images on the screen that are so inventive and imaginative that you cannot look away.  Danny Elfman's iconic score is absolutely brilliant and having the Utah Symphony play it live was amazing.  I enjoyed this so much!  It will be shown again at Abravanel Hall tonight and tickets may be purchased here.

Note:  I wish that I could have seen The Nightmare Before Christmas at the El Capitan Theatre (it is screened there every October) while I was in Los Angeles but I ran out of time!  I will just have to go back!
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