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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Leslie Odom, Jr. at Deer Valley

Last night I went to Deer Valley to see Leslie Odom, Jr. in concert and it was fabulous!  I really love seeing performances outside, especially in the mountains where the temperature is much cooler than in the city, and if the concert features the Utah Symphony and a member of the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, you know it is going to be a wonderful evening.  Odom, Jr. (who played Aaron Burr) began with "Wait For It" from Hamilton and talk about goosebumps!  It gave me such a thrill because it reminded me of seeing him perform it on Broadway.  There was an enormous crowd and he joked that he didn't know there were so many fans of Law & Order: SVU (he had a small recurring role).  He told the crowd that he would perform some more songs from Hamilton but he was going to wait until the end so people wouldn't leave!  He continued with quite a few songs from his self-titled album including "Look for the Silver Lining," "Brazil," "I Know That You Know," "Joey, Joey, Joey," and "Autumn Leaves," which is my favorite song from the album.  Then he sang a medley of Nat King Cole songs which just about blew my mind: "Mona Lisa," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and "Unforgettable."  I must say that his version of "Unforgettable" brought a tear to my eye!  He had his wife, Nicolette Robinson, come on stage to sing a song called "What Are We Waiting For?" which was beautiful.  His wife can definitely sing, as well!  I'm surprised that I didn't know this but Odom, Jr. was also in the musical RENT, which is another favorite of mine.  He said that when he was young, RENT was his Hamilton and he had every song memorized!  He auditioned without ever imagining that he would get the role!  He sang an incredible version of "Without You" which I absolutely loved.  His voice is so smooth and he makes it look so effortless!  As promised, he ended the concert with "Dear Theodosia" and "The Room Where It Happens" from Hamilton which brought the crowd to their feet!  So fun!  Odom, Jr. came back to sing "Forever Young" as an encore and I sincerely wished that he could have kept going for several more hours.  This was an amazing concert and I'm so glad that I got to go!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

La La Land in Concert

Saturday night I went to see the movie La La Land on the big screen at the Usana Amphitheatre with the Academy Award winning score by Justin Hurwitz performed live on stage by the Utah Symphony.  It was so much fun!  I love seeing performances outside during the summer (Saturday was an absolutely perfect night) and I am a huge fan of showing movies with the score played live by an orchestra (I certainly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last December).  La La Land was one of my favorite movies last year (I forget how many times I saw it in the theater) and I loved it just as much seeing it again on the big screen.  It feels like such an old-fashioned Hollywood musical to me and I was even more impressed with Ryan Gosling (I go back and forth on how I feel about Stone's singing).  I also had a different take on the ending this time around.  Mia and Sebastian choose their dreams rather than their relationship but there is a montage which shows what their lives would have been like if they had chosen each other instead.  I've always thought that they would have been much happier if they had chosen their relationship but, after this viewing, I realized that many of their dreams would have been fulfilled as well.  It is such a great movie!  The score is absolutely magical and, of course, I enjoyed the piano solos (Sebastian is a jazz pianist) but I was also impressed by the themes played by the clarinet and flute and there was a fabulous trumpet solo.  The Utah Symphony played it beautifully under the baton of guest conductor Emil de Cou.  I had a huge smile on my face the whole time and I may or may not have sung along with "City of Stars."  I would highly recommend seeing a movie performed with a live orchestra if you have the chance.  I will be seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in September, The Nightmare Before Christmas in October, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in December, all with the Utah Symphony, and I am very excited about all of them.  Go here for more information about these concerts.

Note:  Utah Symphony patrons comport themselves very differently than the usual crowd at the Usana Amphitheatre!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Rite of Spring

Last night's Utah Symphony concert was the final one of the 2016-2017 season.  In my opinion it has been an outstanding season as it has featured so many incredible performances of some of my favorite pieces.  Last night was no exception.  The orchestra began with a piece by Tchaikovsky called Souvenir d'un lieu cher (Memory of a dear place).  It consists of three little vignettes which were originally intended for a violin concerto but they were abandoned and later orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov.  I thought all three of them were beautiful with a lovely performance by soloist Simone Porter on violin.  Next the orchestra played Ameriques by Edgard Varese and it was quite spectacular.  This piece was written when Varese moved to New York City after World War I.  He wanted to capture the cacophony of industrialization and one of the main themes involved a siren!  I was very impressed by the sheer number of musicians on the stage (there were 15 musicians on percussion instruments alone!).  After the intermission the orchestra concluded the concert with The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky and it was amazing.  This piece, as the same implies, is about a pagan ritual celebrating the advent of spring and I think it is wild and exuberant.  I really loved all of the themes played by the brass and the timpani and I could definitely see young girls dancing with abandon as I listened.  I really enjoyed this concert (especially since I am now officially on summer vacation) and I recommend getting a ticket to tonight's concert featuring the same program (go here).

Note:  The Utah Symphony will be performing concerts at various outdoor venues during the summer.  I am particularly looking forward to La La Land performed in concert at the Usana Amphitheater and to Leslie Odom, Jr. (from the original cast of Hamilton) with the Utah Symphony at the Deer Valley Amphitheater.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rhapsody in Blue

It was standing room only at Abravanel Hall last night.  The Utah Symphony and guest conductor Kazuki Yamada performed a wildly entertaining concert featuring two quintessentially American composers as well as a quintessentially Russian one and I really enjoyed it.  The orchestra began with El Salon Mexico by Aaron Copland (which was particularly appropriate for Cinco de Mayo).  This piece is based on Mexican folk music and is meant to represent an imaginary dance hall full of dancing couples.  I thought it was lively, exuberant, and full of whimsy and it was a lot of fun to listen to it.  Next came the popular classical jazz piece Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin with pianist Benyamin Nuss.  A thrill went through the audience as we heard the instantly recognizable glissando from a solo clarinet (I have always thought that Tad Calcara, Utah Symphony's Principal Clarinet, would be right at home in a jazz band from the 1920s) and that feeling continued as the theme was repeated in various forms as the piece progressed.  Nuss was absolutely amazing and I honestly can't tell you what was more interesting to watch:  his fingers flying up and down the keyboard or Yamada hopping about on the podium!  After the intermission the orchestra played Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  I didn't recognize this piece by name but as soon as I heard the big booming notes from the brass I remembered hearing it before.  I loved it!  I especially loved the beautiful theme repeated by a lone violin (Concertmaster Madeline Adkins played brilliantly) and a harp which is meant to represent Scheherazade beguiling her husband with tales of the Orient.  The various movements correspond, loosely, to The Thousand and One Nights and the music is incredibly dramatic.  When the piece ended, the man sitting next to me exclaimed, "That was beautiful!"  I certainly agree!  If you can get a ticket (there were very few empty seats last night) to tonight's performance of the same program, I highly suggest you do so (go here).

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Barber's Violin Concerto

I feel like I am making progress in my appreciation of classical music.  Last night's Utah Symphony concert not only featured a piece that I actually recognized but it also featured a conductor that I really like!  Yeah, I know conductors by name!  Jun Markl is a frequent guest with the Utah Symphony and I have always really enjoyed his interpretations.  I think he is elegance personified on the podium!  When I learned that Markl would be performing with the the Utah Symphony and that the concert would feature Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, I had to get a ticket and I am so glad I did!  The orchestra began with the aforementioned Adagio for Strings and I loved it!  It is mournful and melancholy (Why do I like such sad pieces?) but I think it is exquisitely beautiful!  I love how the theme is developed by the violins and then is picked up by the violas and then the cellos and then, finally, by the basses.  As I listened I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me and I was filled with such a sense of yearning.  I enjoyed this moving piece very much!  Next, the orchestra played Barber's Concerto for Violin with soloist Karen Gomyo.  I was not familiar with this piece but I loved it.  I thought it was incredibly romantic and Gomyo gave a very passionate performance, especially in the final movement.  The second movement featured a theme played by a solo oboe which gave me goosebumps!  After the intermission, the orchestra played Piano Quartet No. 1 by Johannes Brahms arranged by Arnold Schoenberg for the full orchestra.  I especially liked the final movement which was inspired by a gypsy dancing and included a fun theme played by the solo clarinet and a theme played by the xylophone.  The same program will be performed again tonight (go here for tickets) and I highly recommend it for a chance to see Jun Markl in action!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pictures at an Exhibition

Last night's Utah Symphony concert featured one of my very favorite pieces, Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.  It seems like the Utah Symphony programmed the 2016-2017 season with me in mind as they have featured so many of my favorites (Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, Mozart's Requiem, and now Pictures at an Exhibition).  The concert began with Military March No. 1 from Pomp and Circumstance by Edward Elgar which is instantly familiar to anyone who has ever been through a commencement ceremony.  I enjoyed hearing it and I am looking forward to hearing it again in seven weeks (but who's counting?) when my seniors are unleashed on the world!  The concert continued with Elgar's Violin Concerto with soloist Fumiaki Miura.  I loved this piece so much, especially the second movement which is almost unbearably beautiful and incredibly emotional.  Miura played brilliantly and received a rousing standing ovation!  After the intermission, the orchestra played Mussorgsky's masterpiece which, as the name implies, was written to commemorate the exhibition of ten paintings by Victor Hartmann after his death.  There are ten pieces which correspond to each of the paintings and these are connected by a Promenade (in several iterations played by different sections of the orchestra) which represents walking through the gallery from picture to picture.  I had goosebumps when I heard the opening fanfare in the first Promenade played by the brass!  It is amazing to me how you can almost visualize each painting as the orchestra plays.  I love each piece but I think my favorite is for the painting Byldo which experts believe is a group of oxen pulling a cart (many of Hartmann's paintings haven't survived).  I loved the theme played by the tenor tuba and the timpani because it is so atmospheric.  I always try to hear this piece whenever it is performed and I certainly enjoyed it last night.  You can hear it when this program is performed again tonight (go here for tickets) and I definitely recommend that you do so!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

An Evening of Bach

I spontaneously decided to get a ticket to last night's Utah Symphony concert featuring the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and I am so glad that I did because it was wonderful.  Guest conductor Richard Egarr was charm personified as he spoke to the audience about the various pieces.  He not only conducted the orchestra, but he also played the piano which was amazing and so much fun to watch.  The concert began with Suite No. 3 and the price of admission was entirely worth it for the second movement of this piece alone!  It was so beautiful and evocative and, as Egarr mentioned in his commentary, instantly recognizable to me.  I was completely undone by it!  I also really enjoyed the theme played by the trumpets in the third movement, which Egarr described as angelic rather than militaristic.  Next, the orchestra played Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with Egarr on piano, Madeline Adkins on violin, and Mercedes Smith on flute.  All three of them were amazing, especially in the second movement where they were featured without the rest of the orchestra.  After the intermission, the orchestra played Concerto No. 1 and I really enjoyed the "pyrotechnics," as Egarr described it, on the piano.  Once again, I especially liked the second movement (what is it, structurally, that appeals to me about the second movement in most pieces?) because it was very moody and atmospheric.  The concert concluded with Suite No. 4 and this piece was so pleasant.  I kept picturing couples twirling on the dance floor in an opulent palace.  It was such a lovely evening and I highly recommend that you get a ticket (go here) to tonight's concert which will feature the same program.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pink Martini

Pink Martini has been to Salt Lake City several times to perform with the Utah Symphony but I have always had a conflict whenever they have been in town.  When I saw that they were included in the 2016-2017 lineup, I made sure to get a ticket and have eagerly been anticipating last night's concert for months.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  In fact, it was probably more fun than should be allowed in SLC on a Tuesday!  Pink Martini is a self-described "little orchestra" with 12 members, plus the incredible China Forbes on vocals, created by Thomas Lauderdale, a classically trained pianist with political aspirations, who was dismayed by the bland Muzak he heard at political functions and thought he could improve upon what he heard.  The group he put together is anything but bland!  Their repertoire includes classical, Latin, jazz, pop, and world music and their eclectic mixture was a hit!  They began with "Amado Mio," with a performance by Forbes which gave me goosebumps, and they ended with "Brazil," which featured the American Fork High School marching band and basically turned Abravanel Hall into Carnival in Rio!  In between, they played songs in Spanish, German, Turkish, Armenian, and Japanese along with several in French and, at one point, had the audience singing along in French!  Before each number, Lauderdale, an enthusiastic master of ceremonies, would ask for members in the audience who spoke the language of the song to come to the stage to sing back-up.  The Armenian group even gave an impromptu performance of another folk song.  The highlight of the concert, for me, was when Forbes sang "Song to the Moon" from the opera Rusalka.  This just about blew my mind because it was so beautiful!  Even though I did not know the words to this aria, I had tears in my eyes!  Rusalka just went to the top of my list of operas that I want to see!  Another favorite moment came when Forbes did the traditional introduction of the band members after which they literally introduced every member of the Utah Symphony!  I thought that was hilarious.  I had so much fun at this concert and I will definitely make sure I get a ticket every time Pink Martini comes to town.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Brahms' Symphony No. 4

Last night, for the second weekend in a row, I found myself at Abravanel Hall eagerly anticipating another Utah Symphony concert.  In my opinion, you can't go wrong when you start the weekend with the Utah Symphony.  Last night's concert began with Introduction, Theme and Variations by Johann Nepomuk Hummel.  I was not at all familiar with this composer (to me, Hummels are the figurines that my Aunt June collected) but I absolutely loved this piece because it reminded me a lot of Mozart.  It featured an oboe and the soloist, Francois Leleux, was incredible.  He played with so much passion and exuberance and it looked like he was having so much fun.  It was certainly a lot of fun for the audience to watch his dramatic expressions and gestures.  Who knew that the oboe was so cool?  Next, Leleux joined the orchestra once again for the U.S. premiere of Aquateinte by Michael Jarrell, a piece commissioned by the Utah Symphony.  It is brilliant and I really liked that it featured so many instruments.  I was particularly fascinated by the myriad of percussion instruments (played by just two musicians).  After the intermission, the orchestra played Symphony No. 4 by Johannes Brahms.  I actually recognized much of this piece (maybe it has been programmed by the Utah Symphony before?) and I liked it because, even though it is quite lively,  it is a bit melancholy.  It was another lovely evening at Abravanel Hall and I highly recommend spending part of your weekend there, too.  This program will be performed again tonight (go here for tickets).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mozart's Requiem

The very first Utah Symphony concert I attended, back in college, was a performance of Mozart's Requiem.  It is has been my very favorite piece of music ever since I heard it in the movie Amadeus and I always take every opportunity that I can to hear it performed live.  Last night I was able to hear the Utah Symphony perform it once again and it was magnificent!  I find the mythology surrounding the composition of this piece to be fascinating.  The fact that Mozart died before it was complete makes one wonder whether he knew he was dying and, therefore, writing the mass for himself.  It is almost as if Mozart was wrestling with Death itself as he wrote the music that lifts the soul up to God.  I find the music to be incredibly stirring and I especially love the "Confutatis" and the "Lacrymosa" (which I performed in college when I was in the choir.)  The orchestra was joined by the Utah Symphony Chorus and the University of Utah Chamber Choir as well as soloists Joelle Harvey, Sarah Coit, Benjamin Butterfield, and Derrick Parker and they performed this piece beautifully.  I closed my eyes many times during the performance and let the music carry me away.  I was completely overcome by the end of it!  After the intermission, the orchestra continued with Symphony No. 4 by Charles Ives and this piece was epic, to say the least.  When Ives composed this symphony, he was concerned with philosophical questions about existence and it reflects both chaos and beauty.  It was sometimes cacophonous with more performers (and instruments) on the stage than I have ever seen before playing complicated melodies with different rhythms (there were even two conductors) over top of each other.  However, underneath the turmoil was peace and I especially liked the third movement.  It was definitely a never-to-be-forgotten evening at Abravanel Hall last night and I highly recommend getting a ticket (go here) to tonight's performance of the same program.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto

I interrupt my regularly scheduled commentaries on the movies I saw over winter break to tell you about the wonderful concert I saw last night at Abravanel Hall (and suggest that you go here to get a ticket to tonight's performance of the same program).  The Utah Symphony began with Symphony No. 2 by Charles Ives.  Ives is a quintessentially American composer and, just like the European composers who referenced epic myths in their works, he used the folktales and melodies of New England with which his audiences would have been very familiar.  Modern-day audiences enjoy finding all of the references (I was only able to recognize "America the Beautiful").  I really enjoyed this piece, especially the second movement which featured a beautiful theme played by a solo cello.  After the intermission, the orchestra played Variations for Orchestra by Anton Webern.  I was unfamiliar with both this piece and this composer and, on the surface it seemed very discordant, but underneath it there was a sort of beauty in the chaos.   Then came the piece I had been looking forward to all week: Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.  I really love the Russian composers in general and Tchaikovsky in particular and this piece is brilliant.  I absolutely loved it, especially the second movement because it is so passionate and mournful with a lovely theme played by a solo clarinet.  Violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley performed it magnificently (there was thunderous applause after the first movement).  I find it ironic that the violinist for whom the piece was composed declared it "unplayable" because Bendix-Balgley made it look effortless.  He favored us with an encore by playing a piece by Bach which was lovely.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night, despite having a terrible cold.  Ugh!

Note:  My movie commentaries will resume tomorrow.  There are three more!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Harry Potter in Concert

Last night I went to a screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on the big screen at Abravanel Hall with the magnificent score by John Williams played live by the Utah Symphony.  It was one of the coolest things I've ever done!  Apparently this is becoming a really popular thing to do because I remember the guide at the Sydney Opera House mentioning that Raiders of the Lost Ark was being screened with a live orchestra that night.  When I got a notification about this concert, I was already planning on calling the box office that same day to get opera tickets so I decided to get a ticket for this at the same time.  The agent told me that there were very few tickets left so I'm glad that I acted quickly.  In fact, they added another concert on January 3 because the first two shows sold out so quickly (go here for tickets to the January 3 show).  I absolutely loved this!  It has been a long time since I've seen the Harry Potter movies (I feel a marathon coming on over the break) and I had forgotten just how enchanting Harry's first year at Hogwarts was!  Harry, Ron, and Hermione were so little in the first movie!  Having the Utah Symphony play the music live made the movie come to life and the audience definitely responded!  They cheered when every major character was introduced, when Harry and Ron defeated the mountain troll, when Gryffindor won the Quidditch game against Slytherin, when Ron sacrificed himself in the wizard's chess game, when Harry defeated Voldemort, and when Gryffindor won the House Cup!  It was so much fun and I am glad I was able to get a ticket!  I've heard a rumor that they will eventually show all of the movies with the Utah Symphony and I certainly hope they do.  I highly recommend this experience for the whole family!

Note:  Yesterday was just about the perfect day!  I slept in scandalously late then spent most of the day with Sean going to lunch and shopping.  We draw names for stockings and Sean drew my Dad.  He needed some assistance and we ended up going all over for one essential item!  I decided to go downtown for the concert really early to avoid the crazy traffic and got there so early that I ended up going to see the lights at Temple Square (pictures coming soon).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beethoven & Rachmaninoff

When the final bell rings to end the school day on a Friday afternoon, I am usually thrilled with the prospect of an entire weekend ahead of me.  When I have a ticket to a Utah Symphony concert on a Friday night, I am even more excited.  I left an enormous stack of argumentative essays that need to be graded on my desk and drove home with a smile on my face anticipating a concert featuring Mozart and Rachmaninoff, two of my favorite composers.  TGIF!  The concert was wonderful, definitely worthy of anticipation.  The orchestra began with Mozart's Symphony No. 19.  Mozart's music is light (not to be confused with simple), airy, and melodic filled with beautiful themes throughout each movement.  I enjoyed this piece immensely. Then soloist Jeffrey Kahane joined the orchestra for a marvelous performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2.  I especially enjoyed the second movement, which was very contemplative, and the third, which was, conversely, very lively.  After the intermission it was time for some Rachmaninoff!  The orchestra played the powerful Symphony No. 3 to the delight of the audience.  I find Rachmaninoff (and all of the Russian composers, really) to be incredibly romantic and the second movement is particularly beautiful.  I love the plaintive themes played by the various woodwinds.  Sigh!  It was the perfect way to begin the weekend!  The same program will be performed again tonight and, really, what's not to love about Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff?  Tickets can be purchased here.

Note:  If you get a ticket, give yourself some extra time to get to Abravanel Hall.  It is that time of year when driving downtown is crazy because of the lights at Temple Square.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Messiah Sing-In 2016

Last night I went to a performance of Handel's Messiah by the Utah Symphony, under the baton of guest conductor Eric Schmidt, the Westminster College Choir, the Utah Symphony Chorus, and soloists Abigail Rethwisch, Sarah Coit, Christian Sanders, and Markel Reed.  The audience is invited to sing along during the chorus and it was so much fun!  Handel's music is absolutely glorious and I especially loved "For unto us a Child is Born," "Glory to God in the Highest," and, of course, "Hallelujah!"  Markel Reed sang the baritone part at last year's performance and he was amazing.  He was amazing again this year, especially in "The trumpet shall sound."  He received thunderous applause after this section!  I was a member of the Westminster College Choir all four years of college and seeing them on the stage made me feel very nostalgic.  I used to love performing Christmas music this time of year and, to this day, I still love hearing Christmas music performed live.  The annual performance of Handel's Messiah is a wonderful tradition (I have done it now for three years) and, while I was feeling pretty festive after putting up my tree on Saturday, I am now filled with Christmas spirit after such an amazing concert!

Note:  I bought a copy of the score last year and put it in a very safe place.  Of course this necessitated a massive search of my house to find it for this year.  Luckily I found it in time.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Brahms & Tchaikovsky

It has been a tumultuous week, to say the least.  With a surprising (and disappointing) result in the national election and a massive project with my student body officers (more about that later), by the end of the day on Friday I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I decided that a performance of Tchaikovsky's amazing Piano Concerto No.1 by the Utah Symphony was just the thing to soothe my troubled soul.  Just like last week, I went to this concert expecting to love one of the pieces and ended up really enjoying the other pieces, as well.  The orchestra began with Symphony No. 3 (also known as The Camp Meeting) by Charles Ives.  It evokes memories of the composer's childhood spent in fields listening to preachers and singing hymns and includes snippets of nineteenth century hymns, war songs, and children's games.  I loved it, especially the chimes at the end which are meant to mimic church bells.  Next, the orchestra played Symphony No. 3 by Johannes Brahms.  To be honest, this piece seemed rather bland and my mind started wandering until I was completely blown away by the third movement.  I thought the recurring melody played by the strings was incredibly romantic and I also loved when this theme was played by the horn and then echoed by the clarinet.  All through the intermission I was eagerly anticipating Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and I was thrilled to hear those instantly recognizable opening notes played by the brass!  It is an explosive burst of energy to begin an incredibly passionate piece!  Soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk played it brilliantly with such feeling and expression!  I absolutely loved watching his fingers fly up and down the keyboard!  He received an instantaneous standing ovation which prompted an encore featuring a rather theatrical version of Mendelssohn's Wedding March!  As I was leaving Abravanel Hall, two adorable little old ladies walking near me commented on what a wonderful evening it had been.  I wholeheartedly agree!  If you need a wonderful evening after a difficult week, go here for ticket's to tonight's performance of the same program.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Dvorak's New World Symphony

I spent a lovely evening at Abravanel Hall last night listening to the Utah Symphony.  I selected this particular concert for Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 because I really love it but, as is often the case, I also enjoyed the other selections on the program immensely.  The orchestra began with Haydn's Symphony No. 9 and I thought it was incredibly beautiful and stirring.  I especially loved the theme played by the solo oboe and I also loved the theme played by a solo violin and solo cello.  Next the orchestra played Symphony No. 1 by Charles Ives.  I was particularly struck by the opening notes, which were almost unobtrusive.  I found this piece to be very moving and there were several times when I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me.  After the intermission the orchestra played Dvorak's New World Symphony (as it is known).  There are a handful of pieces that I recognize by name and always try to see when performed (Mozart's Requiem, Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky,  Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, and Bolero by Ravel, to name a few) and this is near the top of that list.  I have been looking forward to this performance for weeks and I was not disappointed.  There are many things that I love about this piece, but the themes played and then echoed between the various sections of the orchestra are so dramatic!  It was performed brilliantly with an enthusiastic standing ovation at its conclusion.  The same concert will be performed tonight (tickets may be purchased here) and I recommend it highly!

Note:  I have always been a fan of Thierry Fischer (especially after I saw him at a Jazz game with his two sons).  Last night I sat a little closer to the stage than I usually do and it was fun to watch him in action!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Soul Unlimited

Last night, in order to salvage a really blah day, I spontaneously decided to get tickets to a Utah Symphony concert.  I have season tickets to the Masterworks Series but last night's concert was part of the Entertainment Series and I'm really glad that I decided to go!  The Utah Symphony is always a good idea!  Last night the orchestra was joined by Ellis Hall in an evening billed as Soul Unlimited!  Ellis is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist who covers all of the great soul music from Marvin Gaye to Ray Charles to the Temptations.  The concert was as good as I imagined it would be and the assembled crowd in Abravanel Hall agreed with me.  Ellis performed the classics, such as "Get Ready," "Unchain My Heart," "Georgia," "What'd I Say," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "How Sweet It Is," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Signed Sealed Delivered," "Just My Imagination," "Soul Man," and "Higher and Higher."  These songs had me singing, clapping, tapping my toes, and, eventually, dancing in the aisle.  However, my very favorite numbers were a bit unconventional.  Ellis performed a fantastic version of "Let's Dance" by David Bowie which I really enjoyed.  Then he performed a sultry arrangement of "Something" by George Harrison that absolutely blew me away.  That is one of my favorite songs and what he did with it was incredible.  I was definitely not expecting that!  It was a wonderful evening after a really lazy day.  This concert is being performed again tonight (go here for tickets) and I highly recommend it!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Beethoven & Tchaikovsky

I have been looking forward to the opening weekend of the Utah Symphony 2016-2017 season for quite a while.  It has been too long since I've seen the orchestra perform in Abravanel Hall!  Much too long!  However, it was worth the wait because the opening concert last night featured one of my favorite composers and it was a wonderful performance!  The orchestra began with Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks.  This piece was commissioned  by George II to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and I really enjoyed it, especially the brass fanfares throughout.  It was very dignified and majestic.  Then pianist Jonathan Biss joined the orchestra for Beethoven's Concerto No. 1.  This piece reminded me a lot of Mozart (at intermission I read in the program that many of Beethoven's earliest works were influenced by Mozart) and I loved it.  Biss was absolutely incredible and I enjoyed watching his fingers literally fly across the keyboard.  Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 5, the piece I had been waiting for, came after the intermission and it certainly didn't disappoint!  I love Tchaikovsky because his music is so emotional and it is so quintessentially Russian.  The orchestra played with so much passion that they almost blew the roof off Abravanel Hall!  I loved the plaintive theme played by the woodwinds in the first movement and the horn solo in the second movement was amazing!  The final movement is incredibly stirring and, even though this piece is filled with melancholy and yearning, I think that the ending is, ultimately, triumphant.  This concert is being performed again tonight and I highly recommend getting a ticket (go here).

Note:  This concert was our first chance to see Madeline Adkins, the new Concertmaster.  I really like the fact that both the Concertmaster and the Associate Concertmaster (Kathryn Eberle) are women.  Girl power!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Patriotic Celebration at Sundance

I began and ended the week with Utah Symphony performances!  Not too shabby!  Last night I saw them perform at the Sundance Mountain Resort and it was absolutely wonderful.  It has been so hot in the valley this past week so it felt really good to be up in the mountains with a cool breeze and the smell of the pine trees.  I just love listening to music under the stars!  The orchestra performed several well known patriotic pieces by John Philip Sousa (which was a great way to start the Independence Day celebrations), including "The Liberty Bell Waltz" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever."  They also played the "Armed Forces Salute" and had members of each branch of the armed forces, past and present, stand when their theme was played.  This year the cutest little old lady stood for the Coast Guard.  I would love to know her story!  The orchestra also played a lovely rendition of "The Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss II which caused the cute couple sitting next to me to sigh!  Just for fun they played several songs from the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including "March of the Resistance" and "Scherzo for X-Wings."  I love the music from that movie.  My favorite piece of the evening was the first movement from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (which they played at the Gallivan Plaza last Monday).  I certainly enjoyed listening to it again.  Have you been to a Utah Symphony performance lately?  It is the perfect way to spend a summer evening!  Go here for more information about upcoming performances.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beethoven, Mozart, & More at the Gallivan Plaza

I think it is a well established fact that I absolutely love attending performances outside in the summer.  There is just something about listening to music under the stars that I love and, when the Utah Symphony is involved, it is even better.  When that concert is free, it is an evening that is not to be missed!  Last night the Utah Symphony began a series of free community concerts (go here for more information) with a performance of classical favorites at the Gallivan Plaza downtown.  I loved every minute of this concert!  I brought a blanket and a picnic and, after a while, there was a lovely breeze so it was the perfect summer evening.  The orchestra played selections from Rossini, Faure, Handel, Tchaikovsky, and Gershwin which were wonderful.  After the intermission they played  the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (those first four instantly recognizable notes got the crowd going) and Mozart's Symphony No. 35, which was brilliant (I love Mozart).  There was a little girl in the audience near where I was sitting who dramatically conducted the entire concert (Associate Conductor Rei Hotada may have some competition) and it was awesome!  It was a lovely evening!

Note:  There are lots of free concerts scheduled at the Gallivan Plaza throughout the summer.  Go here for more information.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...