The Utah Symphony, for the third time in seven years, will perform outdoors amid the state’s natural wonders in August.
The symphony announced Thursday that it would embark on the “Forever Mighty Tour,” with five shows in five locations in five nights, from Aug. 10-14.
State officials and symphony leaders announced the tour Thursday outside the Utah State Capitol. In touting the tour, Gov. Spencer Cox said, “nowhere else, really, in the world can a local world-class symphony unite with such a diversity of landscapes in such a powerful way. We’re talking about Vivaldi along Utah’s best night skies, and Beethoven with the backdrop of Bryce Canyon.”
Thierry Fischer, the symphony’s principal conductor and musical director, said, “it’s really a privilege to be connecting, very concretely, two beautiful form of arts — sounds on our side and the best art ever: The sky.”
Tickets for each show are free, and can be reserved starting Friday at noon Mountain time at utahsymphony.org.
Steven Brosvik, the president of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, announced the five locations where the symphony will perform:
• Aug. 10 in the Cache Valley, at the American West Heritage Center, 4025 S. Highway 89-91, Wellsville.
• Aug. 11 on Historic Main Street in Helper.
• Aug. 12 at Ruby’s Bryce Canyon Rim at Ruby’s Inn, Bryce Canyon.
• Aug. 13 at Angels Landing at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab.
• Aug. 14 near Zion National Park, at the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater, 144 Lion Blvd., Springdale.
In discussing the music he’s chosen for the tour, Fischer, who will conduct all five concerts, smiled.
“I am very tempted to tell you, ‘Who cares?’ Whatever we’re going to play, it’s not that important. What is absolutely crucial is that you all come,” Fischer said. “Whatever we’re going to play, you will just enjoy and be inspired by the connection between sounds and the nature.”
Violinist Aubree Oliverson, a 22-year-old Utah native, will be the featured soloist. She made her solo debut with the Utah Symphony when she was 11, and has built an international career since.
Oliverson will perform at the concerts in Wellsville, Bryce Canyon and Springdale. She will play selections from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir d’un lieu cher (Memory of a Dear Place),” Carlos Gardel’s Tango “Por una Cabeza” (arranged by John Williams), and the “Summer” movement from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
For those three shows, the symphony will also perform works that Fischer chose because they evoke particular themes.
Three works associated with outer space — Richard Strauss’s Introduction from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (used most famously in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”), “Jupiter” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” and John William’s Main Theme from “Star Wars” — were picked to highlight Utah’s numerous International Dark Sky Parks and Communities.
The selection “Nimrod” from Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” will be played in memory of the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” will mark the 125th anniversary of Utah’s statehood.
Those concerts will also include Franz von Suppé's “Light Cavalry Overture” and the “Allegro vivace” from Sergey Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 — and will conclude with a crowd favorite, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”
The Helper and Kanab shows — as well as a tour preview, Aug. 4, at the symphony’s home base, Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City — will feature Felix Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides Overture” (“Fingal’s Cave”), Elgar’s “Salut d’amour (Love’s Greeting),” “Flight of the Bumblebee,” Gabriel Fauré's “Pavane” and Bela Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances.”
Then, after intermission, the symphony will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, which Fischer called “simply the most optimistic Beethoven symphony ever. It’s going to bring, I’m sure, a very special energy — not only for the audience, but also for all the little birds who are going to listen to us.”
All five tour shows will begin with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“We look for fun, and for people to feel comforted — easy pieces to make the connection between the nature and the music,” Fischer said. “Our main priority during the program is optimism, and celebration — and the need and pleasure to be together outside in this very unique setting.”
The Utah Symphony first toured the state’s natural landmarks in 2014, when the “Mighty 5 Tour” took the group to Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks. The “Great American Road Trip” tour, in 2017, saw the symphony perform at Zion, Goblin Valley State Park, and Natural Bridges/Hovenweep, Dinosaur and Cedar Breaks national monuments.