UTAH SYMPHONY PERFORMS FREE OPEN-AIR CLASSICAL MUSIC CONCERTS AROUND THE MIGHTY 5® NATIONAL PARKS OF SOUTHERN UTAH AUGUST 11-17
Music Director Thierry Fischer leads the orchestra in four outdoor concerts against a backdrop of Utah’s red rock canyons and arches
Acclaimed Soprano and Utah native Celena Shafer joins the orchestra as guest artist
Ancillary events include educational opportunities, active excursions with orchestra members, solo and chamber “musical moments” in parks visitor centers and campgrounds
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (April 15, 2014) – The Utah Symphony led by Music Director Thierry Fischer will tour Utah’s red rock country, home to the state’s five iconic national parks in August 2014 with free outdoor performances surrounded by the landscape of Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Presented by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, The Mighty 5® Tour represents a collaboration between two of Utah’s great treasures, the state’s leading arts organization, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, and the unparalleled natural beauty of Utah’s red rock country preserved within the five national parks, collectively known as “The Mighty 5.” The tour is also made possible with major support from the Utah State Legislature and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, in addition to funding from O.C. Tanner, Zions Bank, Questar, and Chevron.
Concerts will take place in outdoor venues throughout the communities of southern Utah against the natural backdrop of arches, spires and canyons, and brilliant red rocks set afire by the setting summer sun. Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer will lead the 75-piece orchestra in symphonic works that complement the beauty of the environment including Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture”, movements from Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony, Bizet’s Orchestral Suite from Carmen, and Gershwin’s An American in Paris, as well as vocal selections featuring Utah native, soprano soloist Celena Shafer performing Johann Strauss II’s Frühlingsstimmen, Puccini’s “Quando me’n vo” from La Bohème, and Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.
Thierry Fischer said, “When I first visited Utah’s national parks, I was awestruck by the pristine natural beauty of the landscape. One could almost imagine an accompaniment of classical music echoing off the red rocks and canyons. The Mighty 5® Tour is a great opportunity to combine the beauty of nature and transcendent energy of sound, and I am excited to celebrate both by performing a program of illustrious works for park visitors and members of the local communities.”
Additional free concerts and events inside the national parks include chamber music performances to be held at visitor centers and outdoor amphitheaters along the tour route. Concerts will be supplemented with opportunities to explore the parks during the day with Utah Symphony musicians.
As the state’s largest non-profit performing arts organization, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s robust education department will host hands-on musical experiences within each park, an extension of the educational experiences and performances the company presents to some 155,000 students and teachers across Utah each year. Members of the general public will be treated to interactive opportunities to explore sound relationships and instruments, and also hear Utah Symphony chamber ensembles play throughout the day leading up to the evenings’ free concerts.
By performing in each location, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera hopes to enhance its role as cultural ambassadors to aid in the increase of tourism and economic development in the state of Utah. The Mighty 5® Tour also simultaneously showcases Utah Symphony leading up to its 75th Anniversary, and promotes Utah’s national parks during the centennial celebration of the National Park System, both of which take place in 2016.
“We are so pleased to be partnering with Utah Symphony | Utah Opera to showcase the best of Utah’s Mighty 5® national parks and arts and culture,” said Vicki Varela, Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism, Film & Global Branding. “Utah’s Mighty 5® campaign brings together our five iconic parks into a single, bucket-list experience that inspires visitors from around the world. Touring the parks by day and enjoying outdoor classical music concerts by night represent an amazing way for visitors to experience the beauty and grandeur of The Mighty 5®. This tour will truly be a life elevating experience,” continued Ms. Varela.
For long-time supporters of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, The Mighty 5® Tour represents an exciting opportunity to enjoy live orchestral music in the unforgettable landscape of southern Utah.
Said Spencer F. Eccles, chairman and CEO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, “Our foundation is thrilled to sponsor the Utah Symphony’s first-ever concert tour in partnership with Utah’s national parks, and to ensure that the performances are offered free to our citizens and visitors alike. As a long-time board member of the National Parks Foundation, and one who has personally spent many hours exploring these treasured lands within our state, I can’t think of a more fantastic experience for all to enjoy than a breathtaking Utah Symphony concert in the extraordinary landscapes in and around our parks. I can assure you that Maestro Thierry Fischer’s Mighty 5® concerts will offer a ‘mighty fine’ thrill of a lifetime, and no one should miss this amazing opportunity!”
“For years, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation has been deeply committed to supporting the best performing arts initiatives in the state, and the Utah Symphony is no exception,” said Ann Crocker, president of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation. “Along with our love for live, classical music, my family has always appreciated the natural beauty of Southern Utah. We’re excited to see how this outdoor tour brings those elements together, and share in the celebration of the symphony’s 75th anniversary.”
David Green, Senior Vice President and COO of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, said that joining two of Utah’s greatest treasures – the landscape and live orchestral music – is a rare experience that is not to be missed. “Pairing some of the most stunning beauty in Utah with the Utah Symphony will be one of the most unique and most important projects we have planned in the past 20 plus years,” explained Mr. Green. “We often tour these special locations for our education outreach programs which reach the entire state, but The Mighty 5® Tour will be a chance to serve the communities that support the parks and the symphony in a different way – the lucky people who are able to see one of these events will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The Mighty 5® Tour is the first event in a series of special initiatives in honor of, and leading up to, the Utah Symphony’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2015-16. “Utah is an amazing place to live and to visit, and Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is able to attract some of the best musicians, artists, and staff because of the variety of outdoor activities possible and great natural beauty of our state,” explained Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President and CEO Melia Tourangeau. “Collaborating with Utah’s national parks and the state’s Mighty 5® tourism initiative through our Mighty 5® tour allows us to jointly celebrate the natural and artistic treasures of Utah. We hope that hearing exceptional music in these outstanding landscapes will demonstrate why a thriving performing arts community is an integral part of what makes Utah great.”
Each year, more than 6 million people from all over the world visit Utah’s Mighty 5® national parks to explore the iconic arches and spires of Arches, the mysterious hoodoos of Bryce, the slot canyons of Canyonlands, the high, multi-colored gorges of Capitol Reef, and the monoliths of Zion.
Tickets for all performances are free. Advance tickets are available now by booking lodging or recreation packages through select partners. Tickets will be available through select Zions Bank outlets in communities surrounding the parks, and online for visitors who will be camping or who have other lodging plans, starting July 1, 2014. Tickets, if still available, will also be distributed at the gate on the evening of the performance. Visit utahsymphony.org/Mighty5 for more information on obtaining tickets for performances.
Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer was named Music Director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra in 2009 and has since revitalized the orchestra with creative programming and critically acclaimed performances that have drawn consistently full houses. In addition he has appointed 25 new orchestra members, has engaged top soloists to play with the symphony, and has galvanized community support.
Highlights of his tenure with the Utah Symphony are the orchestra’s first complete Nielsen symphony cycle presented as a precursor to the 75th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2016 and a multi-season Haydn symphony cycle. Over the span of two seasons beginning in 2014, he will also conduct a complete Mahler symphony cycle in commemoration of former Utah Symphony Music Director, Maurice Abravanel. Also a champion of Berlioz he has led the Utah Symphony, as well as orchestras worldwide, in many of the composer’s works, including the Requiem, L’enfance du Christ, La damnation de Faust and Roméo et Juliette.
He has initiated a major commissioning program in Utah, which began in spring 2012 with a cello concerto for Jean-Guihen Queyras composed by Michael Jarrell, which he will also conduct with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in 2014. In 2013 the Utah Symphony premiered Simon Holt’s Ellsworth 2. Two additional commissions, a percussion concerto by Andrew Norman and a new work by Augusta Read Thomas, will be premiered by the Utah Symphony under Mr. Fischer in coming seasons. Mr. Fischer regularly programs contemporary music by composers such as Holt, Jarrell, Andriessen, Boulez, Holliger, Rihm, Widmann and Simon Holt – the composer-in-residence during his tenure at the BBC.
Mr. Fischer was Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales from 2006-2012, and most recently returned to lead the orchestra in 2013. Also a frequent guest conductor, he has led orchestras as diverse as the Philharmonia, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra Chicago, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber, and Swedish Chamber. In 2013-14 he makes his debut with the Oslo Philharmonic conducting Honegger and Poulenc, returns to the Orchestre National de Bordeaux to conduct Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 in their new auditorium, and conducts the Oregon, Detroit, Atlanta, and Pacific symphonies in the U.S.
In 2012 Mr. Fischer’s recording for Hyperion of Frank Martin’s opera Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus was awarded the International Classical Music Award (opera category). Other recent Hyperion releases have included Honegger, d’Indy and Florent Schmitt with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales – with whom he has also recorded the Stravinsky ballets for Signum and Stravinsky and Frank Martin concerti with Baiba Skride for Orfeo.
Mr. Fischer began his music career as Principal Flute in Hamburg and at the Zurich Opera. He made his conducting debut in his 30s leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (where he was Principal Flute under Claudio Abbado) when he replaced an ailing colleague. He was Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2001-06 and Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic from 2008-11 (now the orchestra’s Honorary Guest Conductor) and made his Suntory Hall debut in Tokyo in May 2010.
Soprano Celena Shafer has garnered acclaim for her silvery voice, fearlessly committed acting, and phenomenal technique. She spends much of her time on the concert stage where she appears regularly with orchestras in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and with leading conductors such as Christoph von Dohnanyi, Alan Gilbert, Lorin Maazel, Bernard Labadie, Nicholas McGegan, Kent Nagano, Donald Runnicles, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Robertson, and Sir Andrew Davis. In her home state of Utah, Ms. Shafer frequently performs with the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, where she appears this season as Konstanze in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio with Utah Opera. In the upcoming season, Ms. Shafer will be featured as a Utah Symphony Artist-in-Residence and will perform in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4.
Her operatic highlights include Johanna in Sweeney Todd for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Aithra in Die ägyptische Helena with the American Symphony Orchestra recorded for Telarc, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Concertgebouw, Nanetta in Falstaff with the Los Angeles Opera, and Gilda in Rigoletto with the Welsh National Opera. She was soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Phoenix Symphony led by Michael Christie last season. Ms. Shafer began her career as an apprentice at Santa Fe Opera, and has since returned numerous times, most recently as Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring.
About the Utah Symphony
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony is dedicated to providing Utah residents and visitors with great performances which engage, educate and enrich lives. Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the orchestra’s parent organization, reaches 450,000 residents in Utah and the Intermountain region, with educational outreach programs serving more than 155,000 students annually. The orchestra presents more than 70 performances each season in Abravanel Hall, participates in the Utah Opera’s four annual productions at the Capitol Theatre, in addition to numerous community concerts throughout Utah and the annual outdoor summer series – the Deer Valley® Music Festival – in Park City, Utah. With its many subscription, education, and outreach concerts and tours, the Utah Symphony is one of the most engaged full-time orchestras in the nation. For more information, visit www.utahsymphony.org.
*** Season Sponsor for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.
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UTAH SYMPHONY MIGHTY 5® TOUR
Monday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. Music in the Parks: Chamber Ensemble Performance Fruita Campground Amphitheater, Capitol Reef National Park
Tuesday, August 12 – all day Interactive Educational Activities Ripple Rock Nature Center, Capitol Reef National Park
Full Orchestra Performance Tuesday, August 12 at 8:00 p.m. Teasdale Community Park, Teasdale, UT (near Capitol Reef National Park)