The Utah Symphony to Present CARMINA BURANA Next Week

The two evening concerts will take place Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28.

By: Jan. 20, 2023
The Utah Symphony to Present CARMINA BURANA Next Week
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Fiery is the best way to describe the upcoming performance of Carmina Burana as the Utah Symphony brings intense drama to the stage alongside not one, not two, but three individual choirs-fulfilling the epic grandeur of Orff's choral masterpiece. The two evening concerts will take place Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28, at Abravanel Hall in downtown Salt Lake City. In addition, the Utah Symphony will also perform two dynamic pieces-Joshua Cerdenia's Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk) and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1919).

Unrestrained energy flows freely in Composer Joshua Cerdenia's Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk). The piece's title is taken from Friedrich Schiller's famous Ode to Joy and captures the expression of the motif in a wave of urgent and vigorous notes. Though the title might allude to Beethoven, Cerdenia actually chose to honor Mahler with his music, stating that "I thought some reference to Beethoven was the obvious route; instead I chose Mahler, whose music I think conveys joy so adeptly." This brightly engaging piece echoes the opening of Mahler's first Symphony, paying homage to the composer through its imitated variation, before spiraling into its own unique composition of sounds.

It's also worth noting that this piece was inspired by the Divine Comedy, specifically the Purgatorio section. In order to escape purgatory and be purified from each of the seven deadly sins, Dante must ascend a mountain. At the top, his path is blocked by a great wall of fire that prevents him from entering paradise. However, he is encouraged to step forward into the flames by an angel of God. "Though my piece as a whole is not programmatic, there is a brief interlude in which I imagine Dante [standing] in devoted silence before he submits to the fire," stated Cerdenia. This moment is pivotal within the piece-compelling the audience to recognize the significance of the pause and breath Dante takes before moving forward, in faith, through the flames.

Continuing the theme of fire, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1919) brings a blazen bird to life with musical storytelling. With the creation of this piece is loosely based on a wide collection of Russian folktales, Firebird was actually composed to accompany a ballet which tells the heroic story of a young Prince Ivan. While journeying through an enchanted forest, the prince captures a glorious firebird. She begs for her freedom and, when released, gifts Prince Ivan one of her enchanted feathers to summon her if he is ever in dire need. Following their exchange, Prince Ivan stumbles upon 13 princesses who are under the spell of an evil sorcerer-Koschei-and in a daring battle manages to break the spell with the help of the firebird; thus, freeing the princesses and the rest of the forest from the sorcerer's captivity.

This magnificent ballet-and its incredible music counterpart-has been well received for generations, inspiring awe and praise from its audience. In 1930, French critic Robert Brussel wrote "the composer, young, slim, and uncommunicative, with vague meditative eyes, and lips set firm in an energetic looking face, was at the piano. But the moment he began to play, the modest and dimly lit dwelling glowed with a dazzling radiance. By the end of the first scene, I was conquered: by the last, I was lost in admiration. The manuscript on the music-rest, scored over with fine pencillings, revealed a masterpiece."

Following the tale of the mythical bird is Orff's Carmina Burana. Based on 24 medieval poems, and citing influences from the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, this piece is nothing short of epic. With heavy-handed rhythm changes balanced between caesura, this piece can lean towards feeling like a conversation. However, this is an oversimplification of the complexities and challenges built within the music. In fact, the baritone arias for this piece demand high notes that are not commonly found in the usual repertoire; forcing the singer to stretch themselves to new heights.

Structured into five major sections with 25 total movements, Carmina Burana covers a wide range of topics in secular Latin verse; although a small amount of Old French and Middle High German are also included. This five-section structure mirrors the idea of the 'turning Fortuna Wheel'-a symbol typically belonging to the goddess Fortuna who spun her wheel at random, allowing some individuals to gain success and fortune while others experienced calamity and disasters. Within this piece, this wheel motif is further emphasized as each scene, and sometimes within a single movement, the wheel of fortune 'turns' so to speak, prompting joy to turn into bitterness, and hope to fall into grief.

For this performance, the Utah Symphony will be joined by Liv Redpath as Soprano, Jack Swanson as Tenor (who previously performed with the Utah Opera as Tonio in Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment), Christopher Clayton as Baritone, and three individual choirs-the Utah Symphony Chorus, the University of Utah Choirs, and the Madeleine Choir School.

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Concert Listing

Carmina Burana

Friday, January 27, 2023 / 7:30 p.m. / Abravanel Hall

Saturday, January 28, 2023 / 7:30 p.m. / Abravanel Hall
(123 W South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah)


Fawzi Haimor, conductor

Liv Redpath, soprano

Jack Swanson, tenor

Christopher Clayton, baritone

Utah Symphony Chorus

University of Utah Choirs

The Madeleine Choir School

Barlow Bradford, chorus master

Melanie Malinka, chorus director (MCS)

Utah Symphony


JOSHUA CERDENIA: Feuertrunken (Fire-Drunk)

STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite (1919)

ORFF: Carmina Burana

TICKETS start at $40


  • Online:
  • USUO mobile app
  • By Phone: USUO Patron Services, (801) 533-NOTE (6683)
  • In person: 123 W South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • ArtTix outlets

About the Utah Symphony

Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns access to extraordinary live performances of the world's greatest music in the state's top venues. Since being named the orchestra's seventh Music Director in 2009, Thierry Fischer has attracted leading musicians and top soloists, refreshed programming, drawn increased audiences, and galvanized community support. Fischer becomes Music Director Emeritus in the 2023-24 season.

In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours-including the Mighty 5 Tour of Utah's national parks and the Great American Road Trip to Utah state parks and national monuments-the Utah Symphony has embarked on seven international tours, from Europe to Central and South America, and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016 coinciding with the orchestra's 75th anniversary celebrations. The Utah Symphony has released more than 100 recordings; recent releases include a set of Saint-Saëns symphonies, Mahler's Symphonies No. 1 and 8, and Dawn to Dust, which features three Utah Symphony-commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. The orchestra's celebrated discography with former Music Director Maurice Abravanel includes not only the complete Mahler symphonies, but also premiere recordings of works by Honegger, Milhaud, Rorem, Satie, Schuman, and Varèse.

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the orchestra's parent organization, reaches 450,000 residents in Utah and the Intermountain region, including students engaged through education programs that serve every school district in Utah on a three- to five-year rotation. In addition to performances in its home in Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall, and concerts throughout the state of Utah, the Utah Symphony plays for all of the Utah Opera's productions at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and presents the six-week Deer Valley Music Festival each summer in Park City, Utah.

For more information about Utah Symphony | Utah Opera and the Deer Valley Music Festival, visit,,, and


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