Music Director Thierry Fischer conducts world and U.S. premieres of
Utah Symphony commissions, while also continuing ‘Beethoven 250’ celebration
Highlights of the Utah Symphony’s 81st season include:
World premiere of Composer-in-Association Arlene Sierra’s “Bird Symphony,”
as well as U.S. premieres of her works “Aquilo” and “Nature Symphony”
Complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle, featuring soloists Stephen Hough,
Benjamin Grosvenor, Ingrid Fliter, Steven Osborne, and Louis Schwizgebel;
performances are part of second season celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday
Fifteen “first-ever” Utah Symphony performances of classical and contemporary pieces,
including five premieres and works by five living composers.
Artist-in-Association Emmanuel Pahud performing Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, Robert Fobbes’s Fantasy on Themes from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” and U.S. premiere of Philippe Manoury’s “Saccades”
Third season of UNWOUND, the Utah Symphony’s casual concert experience featuring
shorter, intermission-free, visually enhanced programs, further complemented by refreshments
and opportunities to mingle with fellow patrons and the performers
Performances of “Back to the Future,” Celtic Woman, Cirque de la Symphonie, Video Games Live!, a Rodgers and Hammerstein celebration, and “Peter and the Wolf.”
Masterworks Series guest conductor Jun Märkl returns alongside seven conductors making their Utah Symphony Masterworks debuts including Shiyeon Sung, Rune Bergmann, David Afkham, David Danzmayr, Ludovic Morlot, Marc Albrecht and Domingo Hindoyan.
Masterworks Series guest artists include violist Tabea Zimmermann, pianist Ingrid Fliter, pianist Louis Schwizgebel, violinist Vadim Gluzman, guitarist Pablo Villegas, and flutist Emmanuel Pahud. Making their Utah Symphony debuts are pianists Benjamin Grosvenor and Steven Osborne, and violinist Inmo Yang.
Two featured Utah Symphony soloists include Concertmaster Madeline Adkins (“Scottish
Fantasy” and Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins), and Principal Second Claude Halter (Bach’s Concerto for Two Violin)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 4, 2020) – Music Director Thierry Fischer and Utah Symphony | Utah Opera and Interim President and CEO Patricia A. Richards today announced the Utah Symphony’s 2020-21 season, sponsored by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, with highlights including a cycle of all five Beethoven piano concertos featuring world-renowned pianists in celebration of the composer’s 250th birthday. American composer Arlene Sierra will be the Utah Symphony’s 2020–21 Composer-in-Association, and in addition to having several works premiered or given their first U.S. performances by the orchestra, she will travel to Salt Lake City to engage with the community as an ambassador for contemporary music. The orchestra also welcomes a new Artist-in-Association, flutist Emmanuel Pahud, who performs works by Mozart and Nielsen, as well as a U.S. premiere by Philippe Manoury. Additional highlights include the third season of UNWOUND, which offers a more casual alternative to the traditional concert hall experience, and numerous guest artists making their Utah Symphony debuts. The orchestra’s Entertainment Series, Family Series, Films in Concert and other special concerts were announced under the banner of “Live with the Utah Symphony.”
“For me, the diversity of our 2020-21 season is really exciting. From the international artists like my good friend, flutist Emmanuel Pahud, to the varied repertoire, we are in store for an inspiring season that showcases what Utah Symphony does best: bring a high level of musical excellence to the stage while interpreting a wide array of musical genres,” said Music Director Thierry Fischer, who was appointed in 2009 and will be in his tenth full season with the orchestra. “Whether it’s contemporary music by our Composer-in-Association Arlene Sierra or Michael Jarrell’s commission, smaller chamber ensembles, or classical masterworks by Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart, I am proud of the orchestra for mastering an assortment of styles that inspires and engages audiences.”
This season, Maestro Fischer will lead a continuation of Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebration with a cycle of all five of the composer’s piano concertos featuring world-renowned guest pianists. He leads the orchestra in the season opening concert of Beethoven’s “Emperor” followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, both with soloist Stephen Hough. He also conducts two works by contemporary composers: the U.S. premiere of Utah Symphony commission “Emergences-Résurgences” by Swiss composer Michael Jarrell, and the world premiere of “Bird Symphony” by composer in association Arlene Sierra. In addition to these works, Maestro Fischer will conduct ten Masterworks programs, including Weber’s Overture to Abu Hassan, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Stravinsky’s “Song of the Nightingale,” Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy-Overture, Haydn’s Symphony No. 11, Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, Fauré’s “Requiem,” Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances,” Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, Strauss’s “Ein Heldenleben” (A Hero’s Life), Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphonies No.. 1 and 2, and Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”
“The upcoming Utah Symphony season showcases the artistry and versatility of this incredible group of musicians. We are especially proud to highlight two of our own extraordinary violinists as soloists this season in our Masterworks Series, which presents some of the most beautiful and inspiring music ever written,” said Utah Symphony | Utah Opera Interim President and CEO Patricia A. Richards, who was Board Chair from 2005 to 2014 and is a Lifetime Trustee on the Board of Trustees. “And on the lighter side, from Films in Concert to show-stopping favorites like Cirque de la Symphonie and Pink Martini, to our exciting UNWOUND series, we are offering programs with wide appeal. It is going to be a great year!”
The Utah Symphony’s 2020–21 Composer-in-Association, Arlene Sierra, has been recognized by “The New York Times” for her “vividly scored, colorful works,” three of which are performed by the orchestra this season. In the fall and winter are two U.S. premieres: a mysterious and evocative orchestral showpiece, “Aquilo” (2001), on November 13, and 14 and “Nature Symphony” (2017), the latter a BBC commission that explores “the mechanics and processes of nature,” on January 29 and 30. In the spring, Maestro Fischer conducts the world premiere of Ms. Sierra’s Utah Symphony-commissioned “Bird Symphony” on April 23 and 24. Ms. Sierra’s planned outreach activities in Salt Lake City as Composer-in-Association range from talks and workshops to performances of her music. She engages with residents of all ages, from elementary school students to high school composers to adults who are interested in the arts.
The Utah Symphony also expands its reach through non-traditional concert formats and through performances beyond Abravanel Hall. The UNWOUND series, a casual classical experience introduced during the 2018–19 season, will return for a third season with two shorter programs led from the stage by Ghostlight podcast co-host Jeff Counts. Each concert is preceded by activities and refreshments in the lobby and on the plaza, as is followed by an opportunity to mingle with fellow patrons and participate in a Q&A with the artists. UNWOUND programs present Beethoven and Brahms featuring the Utah Symphony debut of British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor performing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” with guest conductor Jun Märkl on October 24, and Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto” with the Utah Symphony debut of Korean violinist Inmo Yang on February 26 with Music Director Thierry Fischer.
As part of its mission to inspire and connect communities throughout the state with great live music, the Utah Symphony performs an eight-part series is presented in Ogden in partnership with Onstage Ogden at Austad Auditorium at Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Weber State University; a six-part series in its second year at The Noorda, the new performing arts center on the campus of Utah Valley University in Utah County; and a performance with German violist Tabea Zimmermann, in her Masterworks Series debut, in partnership with the BRAVO! Series at de Jong Concert Hall at the Harris Fine Arts Center on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo on November 19, 2020.
“As board chair, I am very proud to witness firsthand how music changes lives when I attend orchestra performances. We are so fortunate to live in a state with a full time, world-class symphony orchestra and experience the high caliber of talent this group of musicians offers to all Utahns,” said Board Chair Tom Love. “This truly is Utah’s Symphony! And we can only accomplish this with the generous support of a great many community leaders, patrons and elected officials, for whom we are extremely grateful. The board and I continue to advocate on behalf of this cultural gem so that future generations will continue to have access the transformative power of music.”
2020-21 SEASON AT A GLANCE
Beethoven’s 250th Birthday
The Utah Symphony continues its 2020 celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a cycle of the composer’s complete piano concertos.
In addition to MacArthur Fellow Stephen Hough’s performances of Piano Concertos No. 5 on September 18 and 19 and Piano Concerto No. 4 on September 24 and 25—both works conducted by Thierry Fischer—Piano Concerto No. 3 is performed by multiple Gramophone Award winner Benjamin Grosvenor on October 23 and 24 in his Utah Symphony debut with conductor Jun Märkl at the podium; Piano Concerto No. 1 is performed by 2006 Gilmore Artist Ingrid Fliter on December 3 and 4, Rune Bergmann conducting; and Piano Concerto No. 2 is performed on December 11 and 12 by Louis Schwizgebel, whose accolades have included first prize at Young Concert Artists International Auditions and recognition as a BBC New Generation Artist. David Afkham conducts.
Additional works by the composer to be featured this fall include Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”), led by Shiyeon Sung with the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs on November 13 and 14; the “Fidelio” Overture on December 3 and 4; and the “Coriolan” Overture on December 11 and 12.
Fifteen first-ever performances
Fifteen first-ever Utah Symphony performances of classical and contemporary pieces, will include five world and U.S. premieres and works by five living composers. Music Director Thierry Fischer leads the Utah Symphony in seven never-before-heard Abravanel Hall performances of R. Strauss’ “The Woman without a Shadow” Symphonic Fantasy in the first Masterworks of the season on September 18 and 19; Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” Suite and Schoenberg’s groundbreaking 1st Chamber Symphony on September 24 and 25; Stravinsky’s “Agon” Ballet on February 5 and 6; continuation of his Haydn Symphony cycle with the 11th symphony; and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute Fantasy” with flutist Emmanuel Pahud on February 19 and 20; and closes the season with Schoenberg’s rarely-performed Chamber Symphony No. 2 on May 28 and 29. Korean guest conductor Shiyeon Sung also conducts Mozart’s “Misericordias Domini” with the Utah Symphony Chorus joining the orchestra for the first time on the Abravanel Hall stage on November 13 and 14.
The Utah Symphony continues to champion the music of our time with five world and U.S. premieres, including the Composer-in-Association Arlene Sierra’s new Utah Symphony commission, “Bird Symphony,” which receives its world premiere under Thierry Fischer on April 23 and 24.
Two U.S. premieres by Ms. Sierra are also featured in the orchestra’s season. Her 2001 work “Aquilo” is performed November 12–14 under the baton of Shiyeon Sung, the first woman to win first prize the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition. Originally premiered by Susanna Mälkki and the Tokyo Philharmonic, “Aquilo” takes its name from a classical Roman term for the Northeast wind, and the piece is musical interpretation of the wind and its elemental interactions. The U.S. premiere of Ms. Sierra’s “Nature Symphony,” a joint commission of the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 3, is conducted on January 29 and 30 by Ludovic Morlot, who conducted the world premiere in 2017. Following that performance, “The Guardian” wrote that the work “nods to everything from bees to the dark landscapes of Georgia O’Keeffe,” and that “the symphony does what Sierra sets out to do with impressive economy and a succession of striking orchestral ideas.”
Beyond works by Ms. Sierra, the Utah Symphony under Maestro Fischer gives the U.S. premiere of Swiss composer Michael Jarrell’s 2016 viola concerto “Emergences-Résurgences,” co-commissioned by the orchestra with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Konzerthaus Berlin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Wiener Symphoniker et Wiener Konzerthaus, with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung. The Utah performances, November 19–21, feature the work’s dedicatee, Tabea Zimmermann, as soloist. Jarrell previously wrote “Emergences (Nachlese VI)” for the orchestra in 2012 as a co-commission with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and the Orchestre National de Lyon. On May 21 and 22, Maestro Fischer also conducts the U.S. premiere of French composer Philippe Manoury’s 2018 flute concerto “Saccades,” originally premiered by Artist-in-Association Emmanual Pahud, who reprises the work at Abravanel Hall.
The orchestra also performs for the first time “Clepsidra” by Mexican composer Mario Lavista, under the baton of Maestro Fischer on February 26 and 27, and Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian’s “Trace” on April 9 and 10, which tells of the composer’s own disappearing homeland and the ways industrialization has obscured the past.
The Utah Symphony’s UNWOUND casual concert series returns in 2020-21 with two shorter Saturday evening performances, the first of which features Benjamin Grosvenor on Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” led by Jun Märkl on October 24 in an Oktoberfest-themed event. Inmo Yang performs Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto” with Music Director Thierry Fischer on February 6. 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.
Eleven internationally renowned guest soloists share the Abravanel Hall stage during the 2020-21 season, including five piano and four strings soloists, and the return of two virtuosos each of the classical guitar and flute. British piano sensation Stephen Hough opens the 2020-21 season in two consecutive Masterworks programs performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” on September 18 and 19, and Piano Concerto No. 4 on September 25 and 26; British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, winner of Gramophone’s Young Artist of the Year and Instrumental Awards, performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 on October 23 and 24 in his Utah Symphony debut; Argentine pianist and 2006 Gilmore Artist Ingrid Fliter performs Piano Concerto No. 1 on December 3 and 4; Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel, a BBC New Generation Artist and Leeds International Piano Competition finalist, returns to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on December 11 and 12; two-time Gramophone Award-winning Scottish pianist Steven Osborne, also 2013 Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year, makes his orchestra debut with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 on March 26 and 27.
Guest string soloists featured on Masterworks concerts include German violist Tabea Zimmermann, in her Masterworks Series debut on November 20 and 21, performing Romantic melodies in Berlioz’ “Harold in Italy” as well as the U.S. premiere of Michael Jarrell’s art-inspired concerto “Emergences-Résurgences,” a Utah Symphony commission dedicated to her in 2016; the return of globe-trotting Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman on January 8 and 9 to perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 on his incredible 1690 “ex-Leopold Auer” Stradivarius; the Utah Symphony debut of Korean violinist Inmo Yang on February 5 and 6 playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto; and Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich, who in 2016 signed with Deutsche Grammophon as its youngest artist, playing the virtuosic Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on April 23 and 24.
Two international guest artists return to the Abravanel Hall stage: Spanish classical guitar sensation and audience favorite Pablo Villegas joins the orchestra on January 29 and 30 to perform Rodrigo’s “Fantasía para un gentilhombre,“ a work written for one of his idols, the legendary Andrés Segovia; flute virtuoso and Artist in Association Emmanuel Pahud returns to Utah for two dates, on February 21 and 22 to perform Nielsen’s playful concerto and a fantasy on themes from Mozart’s most magical opera, “The Magic Flute,” and again on May 21 and 22 to appear in the U.S. premiere of Philippe Manoury’s “Saccades.”
Two Utah Symphony principal players are featured soloists on Masterworks programs: Concertmaster Madeline Adkins performs Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy” on April 9 and 10 with guest conductor Domingo Hindoyan; on April 30 and May 1, Ms. Adkins joins Principal Second Violin Claude Halter to play J.S. Bach’s only concerto for violin duo, a work that dazzles with unique textures and a mesmerizing interplay between the soloists under the baton of Maestro Fischer.
Vocalists and Choral Performances
The combined forces of the Utah Symphony Chorus and choirs from the University of Utah prepared by Utah Symphony Chorus Director Barlow Bradford are prominently featured on November 13 and 14 performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral”, and a pair of Mozart’s most important liturgical works, “Ave verum corpus” and offertory “Misericordias domini,” featuring melodies that foreshadow Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” theme, alongside vocalists MET soprano and Utah native Celena Shafer, mezzo-soprano and Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Utah Kirstin Chávez, and the Utah Symphony debuts of tenor Arnold Livingston Geis and bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams.
On February 26 and 27, Utah Symphony Chorus joins the orchestra for Fauré’s gorgeous and moving “Requiem,” and are later joined by University of Utah Choirs for Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” for a rarely heard chorus component.
Guest conductors during the Utah Symphony’s 2020-21 season include the return of Jun Märkl (who will also be making his Utah Opera conducting debut with “The Flying Dutchman” in the opening season October opera) on October 23 and 24 to lead the concerts featuring pianist Benjamin Grosvenor; and the Masterworks debut of Chief Conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra David Danzmayr, on January 8 and 9 in Schubert’s Overture to “The Magic Harp,” Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with Vadim Gluzman, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.
Six guest conductors make their Utah Symphony debut during the 2020-21 season. They include South Korean conductor Shiyeon Sung, the first woman to win top prize in the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in 2006, and second prize winner in Bamberg’s Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in 2007on November 13 and 14 conducting Mozart’s liturgical works, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral” and Arlene Sierra’s “Equilo” U.S. premiere; Norwegian conductor Rune Bergmann, Music Director of Canada’s Calgary Philharmonic, and Artistic Director & Chief Conductor of Poland’s Szczecin Philharmonic, on December 4 and 5 leading the orchestra in two Beethoven works with pianist Ingrid Fliter and Nielsen’s “The Inextinguishable”; Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquestra y Coro Nacional de España, German David Afkham, on December 11 and 12 with pianist Louis Schwizgebel on a program featuring Beethoven and Shostakovich; Conductor Emeritus of the Seattle Symphony Ludovic Morlot, under whose baton that orchestra completed 19 recordings, leading the Utah Symphony and fan-favorite classical guitarist Pablo Villegas on January 29 and 30 featuring the U.S. premiere of Arlene Sierra’s “Nature Symphony,” Rodrigo’s “Fantasía para un gentilhombre,” and Schumann’s “Spring” symphony; an all-Mozart and Mahler program with Marc Albrecht, ‘Conductor of the Year’ at the International Opera Awards 2019, on March 26 and 27; and Venezuelan-Swiss Principal Guest Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Domingo Hindoyan on April 9 and 10 with Concertmaster Madeline Adkins performing Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy” on a program also featuring Zhou Tian’s “Trace” and Stravinsky” “Pétrouchka.”
“Live with the Utah Symphony” Concerts
During the 2020-21 season, the orchestra will feature a variety of Broadway, family and special performances under the banner “Live with the Utah Symphony.” These 13 programs include favorites such as the 2nd annual ¡Celebración Sinfónica! honoring Hispanic Heritage month with guest conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto on September 14; REVOLUTION: The Music of The Beetles with rare footage seen on the big screen on November 6 and 7; the return of holiday fiddling sensations, Celtic Woman, on December 15; Cirque de la Symphonie with live feats of acrobatic athleticism soaring above the orchestra performance on December 18 and 19; Video Games Live! with music from iconic video games on January 2; a Rodgers and Hammerstein celebration on February 12 and 13; Pixar in Concert featuring favorite music from Pixar movie classics on April 13 and 17; and the return of Portland’s favorite “little orchestra” with big sounds of vintage pop, jazz, classical and global styles, Pink Martini, on April 16 and 17.
Some annual classics return: The 61st anniversary Salute to Youth on November 25, 2020; Handel’s “Messiah” Sing-in holiday favorite tradition on November 28 and 29; “Here Comes Santa Claus!” concert on December 19; “Peter and the Wolf on March 17, and the All Star Evening on May 25 featuring prodigious youth musicians playing alongside Utah Symphony.
The 2020-21 Films in Concert Series features the Utah Symphony performing the scores live to picture for “Back to the Future” on October 29 and 30; Disney Pixar’s “Beauty and the Beast” on December 23 and 24; the seventh installment of the Harry Potter™ Film Concert Series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 1” on March 5 and 6; and “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” on June 25 and 26.