At last, it’s Mahler time.
Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer has presented a symphonic cycle during each of his full seasons here — Beethoven’s nine symphonies in 2011-12, Mendelssohn’s five in 2012-13 and Carl Nielsen’s six this season. Now he and the orchestra will take on the nine symphonies of Gustav Mahler, an Abravanel Hall favorite thanks to the landmark recordings made by longtime music director Maurice Abravanel in the 1960s and ’70s.
What you’ll hear
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s 2014-15 season. Orchestra concerts are in Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, except as noted; operas at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City.
There will be four open Friday morning rehearsals in the Finishing Touches series (FT), as well as events for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s social and networking organizations: Vivace, six Saturday get-togethers for 20- to 40-somethings (V), and Cadenza, seven Friday functions for those 55 and older (C).
Sept. 12-13 » Masterworks: Alexander Mosolov, “Iron Foundry”; Beethoven, “Wellington’s Victory”; Mahler, Symphony No. 1. Thierry Fischer, conductor. (C)
Sept. 19-20 » Masterworks: Stravinsky, Symphonies of Wind Instruments; Schoenberg, “Transfigured Night”; Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 2. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Yefim Bronfman, piano. (V)
Sept. 26-27 » Entertainment. Doc Severinsen, conductor and trumpet.
Sept. 30 » Special event: “Salute to Youth.” Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor; young Utah soloists chosen by audition.
Oct. 11-19 » Opera: Puccini, “Madame Butterfly.” Robert Tweten, conductor; Garnett Bruce, director.
Oct. 24-25 » Masterworks: Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 18; Prokofiev, Symphony No. 7; Hindemith, “Symphonic Metamorphoses.” Ignat Solzhenitsyn, conductor and piano. (FT, C)
Oct. 28 » Special Event: “Halloween Hi-Jinks.” Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 » Entertainment: Cirque de la Symphonie. Jerry Steichen, conductor.
Nov. 7-8 » Masterworks: Mozart, Rondo in A Major for Piano and Orchestra; Strauss, Burleske for Piano and Orchestra; Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra. Ilan Volkov, conductor; Marc-André Hamelin, piano.
Nov. 14-15 » Masterworks: Haydn, Symphony No. 5; Mahler, Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”). Thierry Fischer, conductor; Celena Shafer, soprano; Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano; Utah Symphony Chorus.
Nov. 21-22 » Masterworks: Dvorák, “My Home” and Symphony No. 7; Saint-Saëns, Violin Concerto No. 3. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Fumiaki Miura, violin. (C, V)
Nov. 29-30 » Special event: “Messiah” Sing-In. Thierry Fischer, conductor; soloists TBA; Utah Symphony Chorus and audience members.
Dec. 5-6 » Masterworks: Dutilleux, “Métaboles”; Beethoven, Symphony No. 9. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Celena Shafer, soprano; Cynthia Hanna, mezzo-soprano; Chad Shelton, tenor; Michael Dean, bass-baritone; Utah Symphony Chorus.
Dec. 12-13 » Entertainment: “Joy to the World” with Pink Martini. Jerry Steichen, conductor.
Dec. 13 » Family: “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Jan. 2-3 » Masterworks: “New Year’s in Vienna.” Shostakovich, “Festive Overture” and Jazz Suite No. 2; Borodin, “Polovtzian Dances” from “Prince Igor”; Berlioz, “Hungarian March”; Johann Strauss Jr., “Künstlerleben,” “Im Kropfenwald” and “Éljen a Magyar”; Hans Christian Lumbye, “Champagne Galop”; Wolfgang Rihm, “Sehnsuchtswalzer”; Brahms, Hungarian Dance No. 5. Thierry Fischer, conductor. (C)
Jan. 9-10 » Masterworks: Shostakovich, Symphony No. 15; Tchaikovsky, “The Nutcracker,” Act II. Mark Wigglesworth, conductor. (FT, V)
Jan. 15 » Chamber orchestra: Debussy, Six épigraphes antiques (arr. Jean-François Pailliard); Jean Françaix, “Sérénade”; Poulenc, Sextet; Ibert, “Divertissement.” Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor. At St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Park City.
Jan. 17-25 » Opera: Bizet, “The Pearl Fishers.” Carlos Iscaray, conductor; Kristine McIntyre, director. (C)
Jan. 30-31 » Masterworks: Wagner, “Siegfried Idyll”; Berg, Violin Concerto; Strauss, “Ein Heldenleben.” Thierry Fischer, conductor; Baiba Skride, violin.
Feb. 6-7 » Masterworks: Mahler, Symphony No. 3. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano; women of the Utah Symphony Chorus; choristers from the Madeleine Choir School.
Feb. 13-14 » Entertainment: “The Streisand Songbook.” Jerry Steichen, conductor; Ann Hampton Calloway, vocalist.
Feb. 20-21 » Masterworks: Prokofiev, Symphony No. 1 (“Classical”); Augusta Read Thomas, “EOS” (world premiere); Beethoven, Violin Concerto. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Baiba Skride, violin. (V)
March 6-7 » Masterworks: Copland, “Fanfare for the Common Man” and Symphony No. 3; Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”). Hugh Wolff, conductor; André Watts, piano. (FT, C)
March 14-22 » Opera: Mozart, “Così fan tutte.” Conductor TBA; Crystal Manich, director.
March 21 » Family: Prokofiev, “Peter and the Wolf.” Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
March 27-28 » Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 2; Wagner, Orchestral Suite from “The Ring” (arr. Jun Märkl). Jun Märkl, conductor; Ingrid Fliter, piano.
April 10-11 » Masterworks: Debussy, “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”; Stravinsky, Symphony in Three Movements; Ravel, “Daphnis et Chloé.” Thierry Fischer, conductor; Utah Symphony Chorus. (V)
April 17-18 » Masterworks: Haydn, Overture to “The Deserted Island”; Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major and Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”). Bernard Labadie, conductor; Benedetto Lupo, piano.
April 24-25 » Entertainment: The Midtown Men (Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer). Jerry Steichen, conductor.
April 25 » Family: “Peter Pan and Other Adventures.” Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
May 1-2 » Masterworks: Mussorgsky, “Night on Bald Mountain”; Glazunov, Symphony No. 5; Saint-Saëns, Symphony No. 3 (“Organ Symphony”). Kazuki Yamada, conductor; organist TBA. (C)
May 7 » Chamber orchestra: Stravinsky, Concerto in D (“Basle”), “Dumbarton Oaks,” Octet for wind instruments, Danses concertantes. Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor. At St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Park City.
May 9-17 » Opera: Stravinsky, “The Rake’s Progress.” Thierry Fischer, conductor; director TBA. (V)
May 19 » Special event: All-Star Evening. Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor; young Utah soloist and section members chosen by audition.
May 22-23 » Masterworks: Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No. 1; Mahler, Symphony No. 4. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Celena Shafer, soprano. (FT)
The Mahler cycle will be presented in chronological order across two seasons. Fischer noted that the symphonies’ long running times and large personnel requirements make this more practical. The first installment will stop at No. 4, he explained, because the orchestra is playing Mahler’s Fifth this coming April. "We’ll see if we actually improve or not," said Fischer, who is reading Henry-Louis de La Grange’s monumental, multivolume biography of the composer to get into the Mahler spirit.
Fischer won’t include Mahler’s 10th Symphony, which the composer didn’t finish. "There is a lot of controversy about 10," he said. "I’m not a fan of all the reconstruction." But song cycles such as "Das klagende Lied," "Rückert-Lieder" and "Das Lied von der Erde" will provide a "Mahler resonance" on future seasons.
Fischer noted that although the upcoming season will be his sixth since being appointed music director, "I feel as if it is my fourth" because of prior contractual obligations that limited his time in Utah at first. He’s pleased with the improvements he hears in the orchestra’s playing. "They are making it happen," he said.
Utah Opera also announced its 2014-15 season, which will include Fischer’s debut in the Capitol Theatre pit. He will conduct the first Utah Opera performances of Stravinsky’s "The Rake’s Progress."
Other highlights of the coming season:
Soloists » Among the guests are pianists André Watts, who will play Beethoven’s "Emperor" Concerto; Yefim Bronfman, who will perform Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2; and Ignat Solzhenitsyn, who will conduct Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18 from the keyboard and also lead the orchestra in works of Prokofiev and Hindemith.
Seven guest conductors » "I didn’t want to be overpresent," said Fischer, who will lead 11 Masterworks pairs and one opera, plus the "Messiah" Sing-In. "I always try to find [guest] conductors who are rather different from me." Next year’s guests are Solzhenitsyn, Ilan Volkov, Mark Wigglesworth, Hugh Wolff, Jun Märkl, Bernard Labadie and Kazuki Yamada.
Five pops programs » Trumpeter and conductor Doc Severinsen will open the Entertainment series. Other guests include Cirque de la Symphonie and Pink Martini.
Two artists in residence » Soprano Celena Shafer will sing with the orchestra on three weekends, and violinist Baiba Skride will appear twice. Fischer said he likes the "artistic continuity" of inviting the same performers back in different repertoire. The conductor said he was immediately impressed with Shafer when he heard her in rehearsals for Utah Opera’s production of "The Barber of Seville" and was pleasantly surprised to learn she lives in Utah. She will sing the soprano solos in Mahler’s Second and Fourth symphonies and in a December performance of Beethoven’s Ninth. Skride, who also has been well-received in Utah, will perform concertos of Berg and Beethoven.
Two chamber-orchestra concerts » After a few seasons’ absence, the Utah Symphony will play two chamber-orchestra concerts in Park City. The first one, coinciding with Utah Opera’s production of Bizet’s "The Pearl Fishers," will consist of French music. The other, tied to Utah Opera’s "The Rake’s Progress," is all Stravinsky.
One composer commission » The Utah Symphony will give the world premiere of "EOS" by American composer Augusta Read Thomas.
One Haydn symphony » Fischer noted that his "Haydn cycle" is still running concurrent with his other symphony cycles. Next season, the Utah Symphony will play the fifth of the composer’s 106 symphonies.
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