Utah Symphony Announces Contract Extension For Conner Gray Covington Through 2021-22 Season
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera and Music Director Thierry Fischer announced an extension of Conner Gray Covington's contract through the 2020-21 season, and a retention of his two titles as Utah Symphony Associate Conductor and Principal Conductor of the Deer Valley Music Festival, the latter of which he received in Spring 2019. The agreement extends the current contract, set to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season, for an additional year until August 31, 2021.
"I'm so thrilled to continue my relationship with my wonderful colleagues at the Utah Symphony for one final season," said Mr. Covington, who assumed the role of Assistant Conductor in September 2017, and received a new title as Associate Conductor beginning in September 2018. "The trust that Maestro Fischer, the musicians, and the staff have placed in me is very humbling, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to make music with such a remarkable orchestra on a regular basis and serve this fantastic community and state."
"I am extremely happy to have Conner renew his contract for one more year with USUO," said Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer. "Conner is doing such an inspiring job in so many different areas, from Education outreach to the demanding Films in Concert series, and also as the principal conductor of our Deer Valley Music Festival. His professional growth has been a pleasure to witness and we are lucky to have his talent and enthusiasm. Conner is guaranteed to bring continued fun and excellence to our orchestra and audiences alike!"
"Conner's conducting ability and versatility is unparalleled, especially for a conductor his age, and the orchestra is very fortunate to have been able to extend his contract to a fourth year," said Mercedes Smith, Utah Symphony Principal Flute and chair of the orchestra's artistic advisory committee. "From our Film Concert Series to our Deer Valley Music Festival summer residency and classical concerts, Conner has set the bar high for conducting excellence and he continues to impress us year after year with his artistic and technical abilities."
This fall, Mr. Covington begins his third season with the Utah Symphony as Associate Conductor. In January 2020, he makes his Masterworks Series debut with the Utah Symphony and in May 2020 conducts a gala performance with violin virtuoso Joshua Bell. During his tenure in Utah, Mr. Covington has conducted nearly 200 performances of classical, education, film, pops, and family concerts as well as tours throughout the state. Previously, he was as the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he worked closely with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the Curtis Opera Theater while also being mentored by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Mr. Covington made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, sharing the podium with Ludovic Morlot. Mr. Covington began his career as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. A three-time recipient of a Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S. (2019, 2017 and 2014), he worked with the Nashville Symphony as a featured conductor in the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview presented by the League of American Orchestras.
Mr. Covington has also worked as a guest conductor with the symphonies of St. Louis, Virginia, Portland (ME), Monterey (CA) and the Oregon Mozart Players, and in the 2019-20 season he will make debuts with the North Carolina Symphony and the Reno Chamber Orchestra as well as a return engagement with the Kansas City Symphony. He has served as a cover conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, The Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee, WI) and the Britt Festival Orchestra (Jacksonville, OR). He has also worked with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich as part of the 6th International David Zinman Conducting Masterclass. In 2014, Covington was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic to attend the Salzburg Festival as a recipient of the Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors. In 2012, Mr. Covington competed in the prestigious Malko Conducting Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he conducted the Danish National Symphony for a jury headed by Lorin Maazel and was the youngest participant to advance to the third round. Mr. Covington also worked with the New Japan Philharmonic in the 2012 Tokyo International Conducting Competition and advanced to the semi-final round.
Mr. Covington was selected for his Utah Symphony position by unanimous choice by an advisory committee comprised of Maestro Fischer and orchestra musicians following an extensive audition process that involved conducting several concerts in front of live audiences.
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns access to world-class 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. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including the Mighty 5 Tour of Utah's national parks and last season's Great American Road Trip, which also included 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, and recent releases include the first of a three-volume set of all five Saint-Saens symphonies on Hyperion Records in 2019, and on Reference Recordings, Mahler's Symphonies No. 1 and 8 (2015 and 2017, respectively) and Dawn to Dust (2016), which features three Utah Symphony-commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. The orchestra's 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, with educational outreach programs serving more than 155,000 students annually. In addition to performances in its home in Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall, and concerts throughout the state of Utah, the Utah Symphony participates in Utah Opera's four annual productions at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and present the six-week Deer Valley Music Festival each summer in Park City, Utah.
For more information about the orchestra, visit utahsymphony.org.