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Thierry Fischer Leads The Utah Symphony In Two Consecutive Weekends

Thierry Fischer Leads The Utah Symphony In Two Consecutive Weekends

Accompany Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer in two consecutive Masterworks weekends as the Utah Symphony completes the cycle of J.S. Bach's renowned Brandenburg Concertos at 7:30 PM in Abravanel Hall. In combination with the beloved, Baroque classics, the performances also include works of influential French composers Boulez and Berlioz, which the orchestra is recording live for later release on Hyperion Records. Maestro Fischer worked alongside Boulez and included his work "Initiale" as an homage to the late composer. Tickets, priced from $18 to $69 ($10 for students), are available for purchase through or by calling (801) 355-2787.

The first program highlighting the works of Hector Berlioz, on February 1 and 2, features the composer's best-known work, "Symphonie fantastique," which Maestro Fischer conducted in his Utah Symphony debut in October 2007. The second program, on February 8 and 9, features three of Berlioz' lesser-known works: "Sara la baigneuse" for three choruses and orchestra, featuring the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs; "La Mort d'Ophélie," the second movement of "Tristia" for orchestra and chorus, also featuring the Symphony Chorus and University Choirs; and "Rêverie et caprice" for violin and orchestra, featuring the Utah Symphony's 2018-19 Artist-in-Association Philippe Quint as soloist.

This all-Berlioz album will be the Utah Symphony's second recording project with Hyperion Records. Maestro Fischer and the Utah Symphony first recorded for the label last season when the orchestra launched its currently in-progress Saint-Saëns symphony recording cycle, the first ever undertaken by an American orchestra. The first of three disc Saint-Saëns project with the independent British label was released in early January featuring Symphony No. 3 in C minor ("Organ"), with Paul Jacobs; "Danse Bacchanale" from Act III of the composer's opera "Samson et Dalila;" and "Trois tableaux symphoniques d'après La foi."

After two fall concerts of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, Maestro Fischer will lead the Utah Symphony through the final Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 6. "Bach's audacity makes us feel like it is not old music. Boulez' warm, inviting novelty makes us feel unexpectedly at home after a few seconds and sustains the feeling. The mixing of the two styles will show us that the notion of beauty and harmony doesn't correspond to the notion of time," explained Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer. "I am convinced that during the performances, we will completely forget which composer we are actually performing and listening to. It should be a revelation: realizing that beauty is eternal, whether it has been written today or a couple of centuries ago."


On February 1 and 2, Maestro Fischer and the Utah Symphony will conclude the last of three Masterworks evenings devoted to J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. As an homage to Pierre Boulez, with whom he had the pleasure of working, Maestro Fischer has programmed the late French composer's work "Initiale" between Bach's Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 6. Utah Symphony musicians are featured soloists on this program.

"Both Bach and Boulez pieces are what we call perfection, in small ensembles. Both are poetry," Music Director Thierry Fisher said. "The Brandenburg Concertos are perfection in German Baroque style: exuberant with contagious energy. Boulez' 'Memorial,' 'Dérive' and 'Initiale' are perfection in French melancholy dream-like worlds, in an absolute irresistible and inviting mixture of sounds."

After falling in love with the Irish actress, Harriet Smithson, Berlioz composed "Symphonie Fantastique", which portrayed his admiration for her. Berlioz's romantic style begins with a dream-like movement and cascades down into a nightmare where Berlioz is haunted by his love. In regards to the Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 6, Bach dedicated to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, but received no comment or praise from him. Today, J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are among the most celebrated and recognized works from the Baroque period.

In Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique," we can listen to the movements as if they were chapters in an artist's life. They begin with his idle dreams and passionate thoughts, then meander through a series of intricate modulations. The second movement, glittering with elegance, is titled simply "Un bal"-a ball. Berlioz described the third movement as an evening in the countryside during which the artist broods on his loneliness. The piece continues until the end of his love story, jubilant yet ghoulish.

Since joining the Utah Symphony in 2001, Principal Viola Brant Bayless has immersed himself in the vibrant musical community in Salt Lake City. From his regular performances on the NOVA and Intermezzo chamber music series, to a teaching post at Westminster College, occasional appearances with Canyonlands New Music Ensemble and Salty Cricket Composers Collective, masterclasses and teaching at institutions statewide, and such special events as the William Primrose Memorial Recital he gave at BYU in 2005, Brant remains busily committed to his art even when off the Abravanel Hall stage.

Kathryn Eberle is the Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. Previously Ms. Eberle was a violinist with the St. Louis Symphony and served as Guest Concertmaster with the Richmond and Omaha Symphonies. She served extensively as Concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, including the ensemble's tour of China as well as performances in Avery Fisher, Alice Tully, and Carnegie Halls.

Mercedes Smith is Principal Flute of the Utah Symphony. A Texas native, she served as Principal Flute of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet Orchestras for nearly a decade. She has performed with the Seattle Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Houston Symphony, and served as Principal Flute of the Pacific Symphony during the 2010-2011 season. Ms. Smith has performed multiple times in Carnegie Hall, Europe, and Asia, and performed as guest Principal Flute for the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra's 2018 European Tour.

Jeannette Sorrell is an American conductor and harpsichordist and the founder and musical director of Apollo's Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra. She is recognized internationally as a leading creative voice among early-music conductors. She has guest conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), Jacksonville Symphony, Omaha Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, and Grand Rapids Symphony. Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Ms. Sorrell has led many baroque projects for students at Oberlin Conservatory.

Roberta Zalkind, recent Associate Principal Viola of the Utah Symphony, began her studies on the piano at the age of eight. While in the Vuilluame String Quartet, Zalkind attended the Yale School of Music Chamber Music Seminar in Norfolk Connecticut, where she studied chamber music with the Tokyo String Quartet and studied viola with Rafael Hillyer. She has participated in the Colorado Music Festival and The Elkhorn Music Festival. For the past 20 years, she has been a regular member of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. She is also a very active viola teacher, soloist, and chamber musician in Salt Lake City.


The following weekend, Maestro Fischer leads the Utah Symphony, Utah Symphony Chorus, and University of Utah Chamber choir for a night of Wagner, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky with the choirs under the direction of Utah Symphony Chorus Master Barlow Bradford. Since Dr. Bradford became the Director of the Chorus in 2013, he has directed the choirs in conjunction with Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer creating a wonderful musical experience of stellar musicians.

On February 8 and 9, the Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Chamber Choir join Thierry Fischer for a remarkable night of Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique" featuring the Berlioz piece, "Rêverie et caprice for Violin and Orchestra", Op. 8 remarkably maneuvered by Utah Symphony's Artist-in-Association violinist, Philippe Quint. Under the direction of Barlow Bradford, the Utah Symphony Chorus and the University of Utah Chamber Choir will be performing the two pieces, "Sara la baigneuse", Ballade for Three Choruses and Orchestra, Op. 11 and "La Mort d'Ophélie" from Tristia.

Multi-Grammy Award Nominee, Philippe Quint, has established himself as one of the leading violinists of his generation. Mr. Quint is the Utah Symphony's Artist-in-Association for 2018-19 season, which will

include two weeks of performances with the orchestra and a recording for the Hyperion label. Born in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia), Mr. Quint studied at Moscow's Special Music School for the Gifted with the famed Russian violinist Andrei Korsakov.

Dr. Bradford was appointed Director of the Utah Symphony Chorus at the start of the 2013-14 season. Over the course of his musical career, Dr. Bradford has distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, arranger, pianist, organist, and teacher. As an orchestral and choral conductor, he co-founded the Utah Chamber Artists in 1991 and has led that organization to international acclaim for its impeccable, nuanced performances and award-winning recordings.

Berlioz's "La Mort d'Ophélie" is a ballade with the text written by the French poet Ernest Legouvé, which is based in turn on Queen Gertrude's description of Ophelia's drowning. Berlioz, of course, was nearly obsessed by Shakespearean dramas and especially by Hamlet. The three relatively brief pieces for chorus and orchestra that comprise the suite Tristia were not composed together, but Berlioz found it convenient to group them for publication in 1852.

The four-movement "Symphonie Pathétique" begins with a peaceful dance and transforms into a melancholy and heavyhearted mood. Though somber pieces were not rare for Tchaikovsky, this symphony is known for its "passion" and sorrowful mood.

The Russian word "Pathétique" means passionate or emotional, but is sometimes mistranslated to mean evoking pity. The first performance of Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique" was certainly a pity, as Tchaikovsky led it just nine days before his death and 21 days later it was performed in his memory. Declaring he put his "whole soul into this work," Tchaikovsky introduced a radical new concept deviating from the optimistic model of light over dark, and instead ends the composition in bleak minor chords. Pieces such as "Pathétique" formed a narrative or story to engage listeners, just as it's sure to engage you.

Conversation with Philippe QuintJoin in a free lecture on Friday, February 8 at 12 PM with violinist Philippe Quint at the Dumke Auditorium on the University of Utah campus. RSVP on Facebook:

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