Utah Symphony throwing its 80th birthday party online tonight

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) The Utah Symphony performs "The Firebird Suite" by Igor Stravinsky during a presentation of "Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds" for 2,475 5th graders from the Wasatch Front.

The Utah Symphony is throwing an 80th birthday party for itself Tuesday — and everyone’s invited to get dolled up and attend online.

The event will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube starting at 8 p.m. MDT Tuesday.

The centerpiece of the event will be a performance by symphony musicians inside Abravanel Hall — the first time musicians have graced that stage since the venue was closed in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Interviews with music director and conductor Thierry Fischer and violinist Augustin Hadelich, along with appearances by “surprise guests,” will be included. Jeff Counts, host of the symphony’s Unwound series and co-anchor of its “Ghost Light” podcast, will serve as emcee.

The symphony’s announcement says there will be cake, though officials don’t explain how that will happen in an online format.

A pre-show “virtual lobby fest” is set to begin at 7:30 p.m., where symphony patrons can wear their best birthday-party outfits, chat with Symphony members and hear behind-the-scenes information.

There’s also a dress-up contest, in which patrons are asked to take a picture of themselves at their viewing party and post on social media before 9 p.m. Participants have a chance to win a pair of premium FlexPasses, good for a future Utah Symphony or Utah Opera performance — when the music groups get back to giving performances.

Utah Symphony and Utah Opera canceled the remainder of their 2019-2020 seasons back in March, and last week the symphony announced it was canceling — or “postponing until 2021” — this summer’s Deer Valley Music Festival. USUO furloughed all 85 of its musicians at the end of March. It likely will be September, at the earliest, that the symphony is back at Abravanel Hall.

USUO is seeking donations to make up for the ticket revenue lost from the canceled concerts. Incentives range from a “thank you” video (for a $25 donation) to access to select archive recordings (for $250 or more).

It was on May 8, 1940, that the Utah State Symphony Orchestra — created as a Works Progress Administration project as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” — performed its first concert, with Hans Henriot conducting. Henriot served as the symphony’s first music director until 1946, the same year the group’s name was changed to the Utah Symphony.

After the brief tenure of Werner Janssen, Maurice Abravanel became the symphony’s music director in 1947. During Abravanel’s 32-year tenure, the symphony gained a national reputation, taking four international tours, releasing more than 100 recordings and developing a substantial education program. Symphony Hall was constructed during the final years of Abravanel’s time as conductor, opening in September 1979, just months after his retirement. The building was renamed for Abravanel in honor of his 90th birthday in January 1993, shortly before his death that September.