Utah Symphony Celebrates the Holiday Season with a Festive End-of-Year Line-Up

From cherished traditions to soulful carols, Utah Symphony brings all things merry and bright to SLC.

By: Nov. 17, 2023
Utah Symphony Celebrates the Holiday Season with a Festive End-of-Year Line-Up

Utah Symphony Celebrates the Holiday Season with a Festive End-of-Year Line-Up

The Utah Symphony has a long history of bringing its community together through music at the holidays—and this year is no different! This winter season, the Utah Symphony presents a variety of festive concert performances which begins with the return of the community-favorite Messiah Sing-In tradition with the Utah Opera Chorus—a celebratory event that invites audience members to sing along with Handel's beloved oratorio.

This euphoric performance will be followed by a one-of-a-kind, single-evening concert experience showcasing Celtic Woman: Christmas Symphony Tour. This highly anticipated performance has sold out in years past and this year is quickly following suit! Next month, the Utah Symphony will transform Abravanel Hall into a winter wonderland for the very first Holiday Pops Extavaganza! featuring Broadway performers Claybourne Elder (a Utah local), and Sara Jean Ford. Kids from one to ninety-two will enjoy a special treat in the family-friendly Here Comes Santa Claus! concert with the jolly man himself scheduled to make an appearance! The month of December will conclude with two Films in Concert performances featuring Disney's Frozen and Love Actually.

It's worth noting that Utah Symphony | Utah Opera's highly anticipated annual Black Friday sale starts on November 21-27, and offers premium main-floor seats for most performances as low as $25, making it the perfect way to save on holiday memories with your family. Additional details for each event are included below.


Messiah Sing-In

November 25 & 26 / 7:30 PM / Maurice Abravanel Hall

Matthew Straw, conductor

Jasmine Rodriguez, soprano

Sarah Scofield, mezzo-soprano

Jeremiah Tyson, tenor

Tshilidzi Ndou, baritone

Utah Symphony

Utah Opera Chorus

Composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741, the oratorio Messiah details the life of Christ in a three-part performance beginning with the prediction of His birth followed by His life works and concluding with His eventual death and resurrection. Drawing inspiration from both the Old and New Testaments, Handel's Messiah brings passionate music and moving storytelling to this traditional Christmas tale.   

As a cherished tradition that's been heralded as one of the “Top 100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City,” the Utah Symphony invites everyone to share in the joy of Handel's masterpiece. Audience members join with the Utah Symphony and its chorus in singing the beloved choral numbers of this famous composition—including the “Hallelujah” Chorus! Copies of the score are available for purchase from Riverton Music in the lobby.   

Celtic Woman

December 11 / 7:00 PM / Maurice Abravanel Hall

Celtic Woman is the most successful all-female group in Irish history, with a legacy of 12 consecutive Billboard number ones, 10 million album sales, and an incredible 2 billion online streams to date.   

This holiday season, Celtic Woman returns, adding their angelic harmonies to the thrilling live sound of the symphony in an intimate concert setting. From delicate Gaelic carols to stunning arrangements of classics like “Silent Night,” Celtic Woman has a wealth of seasonal music to gladden your heart. With crystalline voices, Irish fiddling, magnificent brass fanfares, Irish harp, and the proud call of the bagpipes, this is a performance you will never forget.  

Get your tickets early—this concert sold out last year!

Holiday Pops Extravaganza!

December 15 & 16 / 7:30 PM / Maurice Abravanel Hall

Matthew Straw, conductor

Sara Jean Ford, vocalist

Claybourne Elder, vocalist

Utah Symphony

Step into a winter wonderland at Maurice Abravanel Hall as the Holiday Pops Extravaganza sweeps you off your feet. This all-new festive program celebrates the magic of the season with cherished holiday favorites, delightful surprises, and, of course, Santa himself. Families can arrive early to enjoy fun-filled activities and hot chocolate in the lobby. And if audience members are feeling especially festive, they can test their Christmas knowledge with three rounds of Christmas trivia. Winners can look forward to gift baskets filled with holiday goodies. 

Claybourne Elder

Claybourne Elder is a Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel nominee and was most recently seen on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company with Patti LuPone and as John Adams on HBO's The Gilded Age. He is known for his performances on Broadway in Bonnie and Clyde, Sunday in the Park with George, and Torch Song.  He also appeared in Sondheim on Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl, Road Show at The Public Theatre, Tennessee William's One Arm (Drama Desk Nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Play) Do I Hear A Waltz at City Center, Allegro at Classic Stage (Lortel Nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical), Two by Two (Starring Jason Alexander) and Venice at The Public Theatre. He has premiered works by Stephen Sondheim, Frank Wildhorn, Bill Finn, Richard Maltby and David Shire and has appeared on 5 Broadway cast albums.

Clay grew up in Springville, Utah and studied at the University of Utah, where he has been honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Growing up he performed with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Hale Centre Theatre, and Tuacahn Amphitheatre before moving to New York. He began his NYC acting career originating the role of Hollis Bessemer in Sondheim's last new musical Road Show at The Public Theater.  Other credits include George in Sunday in the Park..., Georgio in Passion, Tony in West Side Story, Joe in Angels in America, Curly in Oklahoma, Wolf/Cinderella's Prince in Into the Woods, and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. He also played heartthrob Pete O'Malley in the CW's The Carrie Diaries.

Recently he launched an initiative called City of Strangers to provide free tickets to Broadway shows for young people who might not have the means. They have given away over 3,000 tickets and have gained unexpected attention nationally being featured on This American Life, CBS This Morning and The Kelly Clarkson Show. His solo cabaret show has played to sold-out houses across the country and in London. 

Sara Jean Ford

Sara is one of Broadway's most illustrious performers and writers today. Sara can be seen starring in her hit dark- comedy web series, The Aging Ingenue, which she also co-wrote; now streaming on BroadwayWorld.com!

Broadway credits include: Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera. Jellylorum in CATS, Smitty in How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Petra in A Little Night Music and Finian's Rainbow. Sara holds the unique distinction of performing in two Broadway shows in the same week; Petra in ‘Night Music' and Christine in ‘Phantom...'. Sara produced, wrote and starred in her own adaptation of Calamity Jane in Concert for sold-out audiences at Feinstein's 54 Below.

Off Broadway: Sara starred as Louisa in the The Fantasticks and can be heard on the Original Revival Cast Recording.

National Tours/ Regional: Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera. Jenny in the world premiere musical, Sousatzka in Toronto, Canada. Sunday in the Park With George- Dot, Crimes of the Heart- Babe, Candide- Cunagonde, Carousel- Carrie, and Nellie Oleson in the world premiere of Little House on the Prairie - The Musical at The Guthrie Theatre. She has appeared as a star soloist numerous times at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Hall. Sara MC'd and guest soloed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in their month-long tour of Summer Songbook Concert Series. Her solo show, Generations, has been performed all over the country. She can be heard on Michael Jackson's HIStory album, Harry Connick Jr.'s When my Heart Finds Christmas, and The Addams Family Values soundtrack. Sara graduated with a BFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University's prestigious Drama program.

Here Comes Santa Claus!

December 16 / 11:00 AM & 12:30 PM / Maurice Abravanel Hall

Matthew Straw, conductor

Utah Symphony

Perfect for your young ones, Here Comes Santa Claus! sets the holiday scene with a wide showcase of favorite winter carols and tunes performed live by the Utah Symphony as part of a magical story featuring Noel the elf!

Kids from one to ninety-two will enjoy this show, with a joyful sing-along closing out the concert. Kris Kringle himself is expected to make an appearance, bringing extra holiday fun and all the magic of the North Pole for your kids to enjoy.   

All Family Series performances are roughly 60 minutes—perfect for even the youngest members of your family!

Love Actually in Concert

December 19 / 7:00 PM / Maurice Abravanel Hall

Conner Gray Covington, conductor

Utah Symphony

Exquisitely intertwining passion, heartbreak, and humor—and featuring an all-star cast—this touching romantic comedy plays on the big screen in an unforgettable movie-concert experience. Root for love as the Utah Symphony performs the score, with its mix of memorable pop songs and poignant melodies, live to picture. The PG-13 version of the film will be screened for this performance.   

Disney's Frozen in Concert

December 21, 22, & 23 / 7:00 PM / Maurice Abravanel Hall

“Let it Go!”–and experience the magic of the Disney classic Frozen on the big screen as the Utah Symphony performs every note of the Oscar-and Grammy-winning film live. Experience the magic of a winter wonderland lobby with captivating photo opportunities, delicious winter treats, and an extensive collection of Frozen merchandise. Plus, kids, students, and under-30s have the chance to grab main-floor seats for 50% off, guaranteed through November!  

For more information, please visit utahsymphony.org/holiday.

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera connects Utah communities through great live music and is the flagship arts organization of the Intermountain West. USUO's 87 full-time symphony musicians and five opera Resident Artists perform for more than 450,000 citizens in Utah and the Intermountain region each year, presenting more than 175 symphonic and chamber music performances; week-long runs of four full operas; and music education programs for students and adult learners. The organization's statewide service includes tours featuring outdoor performances against the backdrop of Utah's natural beauty as well as education offerings—most recently, the six-stop Music Elevated Tour in August 2023.

Founded in 1940 and one of just 16 year-round orchestras in the U.S., the Utah Symphony performs at downtown Salt Lake City's Maurice Abravanel Hall, at its Deer Valley Music Festival in Park City, in Utah Opera productions, and at venues throughout the state of Utah. The symphony has embarked on seven international tours and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016 in honor of its 75th anniversary season. The orchestra's celebrated recording legacy includes more than 100 recordings; in April 2023, its latest album featuring Messiaen's Des canyons aux étoiles—a work inspired by three scenic Utah locations—was released to great critical acclaim. Thierry Fischer, who led the Utah Symphony as Music Director from 2014 to 2023, was named Music Director Emeritus beginning in the 2023-24 season.

Since 1978, Utah Opera has provided citizens with distinguished and entertaining productions at Salt Lake City's historic Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre—showcasing emerging and established artists, celebrating traditional works, and championing new works and the American operatic tradition. Utah Opera is one of just six opera companies in the U.S. with full production capabilities, including in-house costume design and set-building; the company currently has costumes for 50 productions and 19 full sets in its inventory. Utah Opera's Resident Artist program is nationally recognized for providing invaluable career-training opportunities for professional singers and pianists.

USUO leads in music education, with interactive and immersive education programs that engage and inspire tomorrow's musicians and music-lovers. In the community and in classrooms, these programs serve more than 91,000 students annually and reach every school district in Utah on a three-year rotation.