Biography

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 175 concerts annually: 70 performances each season in Abravanel Hall, and participation 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.

For over three decades, the Utah Symphony performed at the Mormon Tabernacle in the heart of Salt Lake City. The orchestra moved to its current home at Abravanel Hall in the fall of 1979. Since the founding of Utah Opera in 1978, the Utah Symphony has performed for its productions at Salt Lake’s Capitol Theatre. In 2002, the two organizations merged to form Utah Symphony | Utah Opera. By the 1970s, the Utah Symphony’s summer season had grown to include outdoor concerts held at ski venues and at parks across the state. The orchestra’s season grew to a 52-week schedule in 1980, and since 2003, its permanent summer home is the Deer Valley® Music Festival in Park City, Utah.

The Utah Symphony became recognized as a leading American ensemble largely through the efforts of Maurice Abravanel, its Music Director from 1947 to 1979. During his tenure, the orchestra undertook four international tours, released over a hundred recordings, and developed an extensive music education program. Included in the orchestra’s discography with Abravanel are première recordings of works by Honegger, Milhaud, Satie, Schumann, and Varèse. A pioneering cycle of Mahler Symphonies was recorded between 1963-1974 which included the first commercial recordings of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies.

Abravanel’s tenure was followed by Varujan Kojian (1979-1983), Joseph Silverstein (1983-1998), and Keith Lockhart (1998-2009). The orchestra’s legacy of recording and touring continued with each of the three subsequent Music Directors. Varujan Kojian’s tenure brought appearances at the Bergen Festival (Norway) during the 1981 European tour and recordings of works by Berlioz, Brahms and Liszt in addition to a number of film scores. Joseph Silverstein made over a dozen recordings during his 15 seasons as Music Director, often appearing as both soloist and conductor. The 1986 European tour with Silverstein was distinguished by a return to the Berlin Festival and concerts in both East and West Berlin. With the Utah Symphony, Keith Lockhart made recordings of works by Bernstein and Rachmaninoff and released a CD of music from the 2002 Olympics. He conducted the orchestra during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics with guest artists Yo-Yo Ma and Sting. In 2000, he led the orchestra along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in a nationally broadcast PBS special featuring Vaughan William’s Christmas Oratorio “Hodie”. The orchestra returned to Europe with Keith Lockhart in the Spring of 2005. Thierry Fischer’s appointment as the Utah Symphony’s seventh Music Director was made in 2009.

The orchestra has been nominated for Grammy Awards for recordings with both Maurice Abravanel: Honegger, Le Roi David (1963), Bloch, Sacred Service (1979), Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms (1980) and with Michael Tilson-Thomas: Copland, Old American Songs (1988). The Utah Symphony has recorded extensively for Albany, Angel (EMI), CBS Masterworks (Sony), Dorian, Harmonia Mundi, London (Decca), CRI/New World Records, Nonesuch, Pro Arte, RCA Red Seal (BMG), Reference, Telarc, Vanguard (Philips), Varèse Sarabande, Vox and Westminster (DG).

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.

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