Thierry Fischer And The Utah Symphony Open 2019-20 Masterworks With September Concerts

The Utah Symphony's 2019-20 O. C. Tanner Company Masterworks Series launches in September with two weekends of performances conducted by Music Director Thierry Fischer. On September 13 and 14, the Utah Symphony performs music inspired by the night sky, including Holst's "The Planets," Kaija Saariaho's "Asteroid 4179 - Toutatis," and Messiaen's "What is Written in the Stars" from "Des canyons aux étoiles...." Then, on September 27 and 28, another nature-inspired program includes Respighi's "Pines of Rome" and Messiaen's "The Orioles" from "Des canyons aux étoiles..." on a program also featuring guest violinist Viviane Hagner and Utah Symphony Principal Violist Brant Bayless performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. Tickets for both concerts are priced from $20 to $92 and can be purchased at or by calling (801) 533-6683. Student tickets (50% off standard prices) are available as part of the Utah Symphony's ongoing education programs.

French composer Olivier Messiaen's awe-inspiring "Des canyons aux étoiles...," inspired by Utah's landscapes and birds, is the centerpiece of the Utah Symphony's 2019-20 Masterworks Series. Maestro Fischer commented that "Since coming to Utah more than 10 years ago, I have often been awestruck by the beauties and majesties of its natural landscapes. This coming season it gives me great pleasure to honor Utah's nature with a masterpiece written in Utah and about Utah by Messiaen, 'Des canyons aux étoiles...'" To further enhance the experience of hearing Messiaen's music throughout the season, the Utah Symphony has partnered with local organizations to showcase photography and video of the visual beauty of Utah's birds and landscape at the concerts.


The 2019-20 Masterworks Series commences on September 13 & 14 when Maestro Fischer and the Utah Symphony are joined by the Sopranos & Altos of the Utah Symphony Chorus with Chorus Director Dr. Barlow Bradford for a performance of Holst's "The Planets."

The program opens by celebrating the 40th anniversary of Maurice Abravanel Hall with Beethoven's "The Consecration of the House" Overture, commissioned for the opening of Vienna's new Theater in der Josefstadt in 1822. Originally called "Symphony Hall," Abravanel Hall opened on September 14, 1979 with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducting. It has been the primary home for the Utah Symphony since that date.

Following the commemoration, the concert shifts to a decidedly spaced-themed program with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's "Asteroid 4179-Toutatis." The 2005 composition was inspired by the asteroid Toutatis, which has a complex rotation and often collides with other heavenly objects due to its irregular shape. Written 255 years earlier, Haydn's cheerful overture to his opera "The World of the Moon" follows on the program and gives audiences a taste of Haydn's rarely performed operatic repertoire.

The program includes two movements from Messiaen's "Des canyons aux étoiles..."-"What is Written in the Stars" and "The Desert." The composer Olivier Messiaen was deeply spiritual and particularly drawn to nature and birds as a source of inspiration for his music. For these movements, he was inspired by Bryce Canyon, a place described by Messiaen as a "divine creation." Sandwiched between them, John Williams' main title from "Star Wars" makes an unexpected appearance on a Masterworks program.

Capping off the evening is Gustav Holst's beloved "The Planets." Though he came from a deeply musical family, Holst's early gravitation towards composition was met with staunch resistance from his father. Despite this resistance, at the early age of 17 his father funded Holst's education at Merton College, Oxford. Using only the personalities of the planets as inspiration to create an almost hour-long piece, his talents for engrossing the audience are undeniable with "The Planets."

Clark Planetarium, Dark Skies Consortium, and KUED will be partnering with the Utah Symphony to provide video and imagery to accompany this concert.


The September 27 & 28 Masterworks performances feature Respighi's "Pines of Rome" and guest violinist Viviane Hagner and Utah Symphony Principal Violist Brant Bayless performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola.

The evening begins with Mozart's full and unfailingly beautiful Overture from "Idomeneo" followed by his Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, which remind us that on his extensive list of musical accomplishments is his talent as an outstanding violinist. The Sinfonia Concertante, which premiered in Salzburg in 1779, is considered a breakthrough work that is symphonic in scope and concerto-like in its solo demands.

Violinist Viviane Hagner is described by the "Washington Post" as displaying "an almost hauntingly masterful display of technique and artistry." Since debuting at 13 in a joint concert with Israel and Berlin Philharmonics Ms. Hagner has performed with many of the world's leading orchestras while sharing both new and undiscovered music with her audiences.

Principal Violist Brant Bayless is in his 18th year with the Utah Symphony and has traveled with the Fry Street Quartet to Brazil, performed at the Grand Teton Music Festival, and has taught at the Killington Festival in Vermont.

The Utah Symphony's nature-themed season continues with Respighi's "The Birds," which prominently features the sounds of nature using the dove, the hen, the nightingale, and the cuckoo in an orchestration of great delicacy. Then, Messiaen paints a vivid picture of his mystic and reverent love of birds with "The Orioles" before the Utah Symphony closes the evening with Respighi's quintessential vivid and musically pictoral "Pines of Rome."

Utah's Tracy Aviary and Natural History Museum of Utah are partnering with the Utah Symphony to provide video and imagery to accompany this concert.


The Utah Symphony will perform Holst's "The Planets" on September 12 at Austad Auditorium at the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts in Ogden at 7:30 PM in the first of an 11-part orchestra series at that venue.

Star Finder and Interactive Apollo Lunar Module
Pick up your very own star finder in the lobby on September 13 & 14 by visiting with Utah's Consortium for Dark Sky Studies and arrive early to see the full size interactive Apollo Lunar Module called O.A.S.I.S.C.A.F.E.

Finishing Touches Open Rehearsal
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Utah Symphony during our Finishing Touches Open Rehearsal at 10 AM on September 27. Selections for the rehearsal will be chosen from repertoire for this week's concerts at the discretion of the conductor. Complimentary baked goods and coffee are available in the lobby prior to the rehearsal. Seating for open rehearsals is General Admission on the orchestra level of Abravanel Hall. Pre-concert lecture A pre-concert lecture free to all ticket holders will take place at all Masterworks Series performances in Abravanel Hall's First Tier Room 45 minutes prior to each performance.

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