Utah Symphony Sets Premieres of Three New Works for Early 2024

The Utah Symphony is set to mesmerize audiences with a series of captivating premiere performances that underscore the state's deep appreciation for the arts.

By: Feb. 06, 2024
Utah Symphony Sets Premieres of Three New Works for Early 2024

The Utah Symphony is set to mesmerize audiences with a series of captivating premiere performances that underscore the state's deep appreciation for the arts while also highlighting the orchestra's international reputation. By co-commissioning and performing groundbreaking new works by present-day composers, the symphony enriches the local cultural scene and demonstrates its commitment to fostering artistic innovation.

Beginning the new year with new music, the Utah Symphony had the honor of performing the world premiere of the first Piano Concerto composed by British piano legend Sir Stephen Hough on January 12 and 13, conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles (who also made his Utah Symphony debut). During that weekend, Utah Symphony welcomed nearly 3,000 audience members, allowing many in the Utah community to experience this vibrant concert. “A blockbuster performance from Hough is almost a given, and sure enough, his technical and expressive gifts were on full display. The eminent Scottish conductor Runnicles, making an impressive local debut, led the orchestra in a supporting performance full of color and life,” said Utah Arts Review.

The second world premiere of 2024 will present the Utah Symphony's own Principal Trombone Mark Davidson as soloist in the first-ever performance of Quinn Mason's Trombone Concerto titled “Sonorous” in a nod to the singing quality of the instrument. This concerto was written specifically for Davidson and will premiere on February 15, 16, and 17 alongside Strauss' thrilling Don Juan.

“Quinn Mason is such a prominent composer,” says Davidson. “[His composition] has such a sonar, singing quality to it and Quinn is making that a priority to bring that out in the instrument.” For those who more commonly equate the trombone with marching band or jazz music, it will be eye-opening (and ear-opening!) to discover the lyrical qualities the instrument can produce.

The final premiere of the Utah Symphony's 2023-24 season features Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 on February 23 and 24. Swiss composer Michael Jarrell's Émergences-Résurgences—which was inspired by Impressionist art—will receive its U.S. premiere with Tabea Zimmermann, who many consider to be the world's top violist.

“Engaging with contemporary music also influences interpretations of the classical repertoire,” says Zimmermann. “It makes one interpret these pieces much more consciously.”

The Utah Symphony echoes Zimmermann's philosophy that pairing new music with time-honored classics creates rich, varied concert programs that deepen the audience's understanding of and engagement with symphonic music. And by bringing groundbreaking works like Sir Stephen Hough's The World of Yesterday, Quinn Mason's Trombone Concerto, and Michael Jarrell's Émergences-Résurgences to its audiences, the Utah Symphony continues to lead in the world of classical music.

All three works being premiered over these next few months are Utah Symphony co-commissions—meaning the symphony provided the necessary funding, in conjunction with other co-commissioning ensembles, to support the composer in creating their work. In this way, the symphony is directly contributing toward the continuation of the classical music art form in our modern world.

The collaborative efforts involved in co-commissioning premieres demonstrate the Utah Symphony's ability to forge meaningful partnerships within the internationally artistic realm, solidifying the state of Utah as a destination for artistic expression and creativity. Continuing a longtime commitment to contemporary classical music, the Utah Symphony's three premieres during January and February offer Utah audiences the unique opportunity to be among the first to experience cutting-edge compositions and to celebrate the creation of new art.

For more information, please visit utahsymphony.org.

About Utah Symphony | Utah Opera

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.