Utah Symphony


Karen Kloster
North America
Press Resources

The Utah Symphony, now led by Music Director Thierry Fischer and celebrating its 75th anniversary in the 2015-16 season, is one of America’s major symphony orchestras and a leading cultural organization in the Intermountain West. It is recognized internationally for its distinctive performances, commitment to music education, and recording legacy. Since becoming Music Director in 2009, Mr. Fischer has attracted leading young musicians to join the Orchestra and top soloists to come to Utah; he has refreshed programming, drawn consistently full houses, and galvanized community support. Highlights of Mr. Fischer’s tenure include the Utah Symphony’s first complete Nielsen symphony cycle, a multi-season Haydn symphony cycle, a two-year Mahler symphony cycle, and, during the 2015-16 season, the complete Beethoven symphonies and a recording release of Mahler Symphony No. 1. Mr. Fischer has also initiated a major commissioning program in Utah that has produced new works by Simon Holt, Michael Jarrell, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony became recognized as a leading American ensemble largely through the efforts of Maurice Abravanel, Music Director from 1947 to 1979. During his tenure, the Orchestra undertook four international tours, released over 100 recordings, and developed an extensive music education program. Abravanel’s tenure was followed by Varujan Kojian (1979-1983), Joseph Silverstein (1983-1998), and Keith Lockhart (1998-2009). Conductors prior to Abravanel were Hans Heniot (1940 to 1945) and Werner Janssen (1946 to 1947). Previous to its official founding, the Utah Symphony's first incarnation was as a Works Progress Administration Orchestra from 1935 to 1940. The Utah Symphony has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Musikverein, the Konzerthaus, the Philharmonie, the Schauspielhaus, the Gewandhaus, Royal Festival Hall, the Teatro Colón, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and the Brucknerhaus. In the 2015-16 season the Orchestra will return to New York’s Carnegie Hall for a concert in honor of the Utah Symphony’s 75th anniversary. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including most recently the Mighty 5® tour of Southern Utah’s National Parks, it has embarked on seven international tours. The Orchestra has released more than 100 recordings and has been nominated for Grammy Awards for recordings with both Maurice Abravanel: Honegger, Le Roi David (1963), Bloch, Sacred Service (1979), Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms (1980) and Michael Tilson-Thomas: Copland, Old American Songs (1988). A pioneering cycle of Mahler Symphonies was recorded between 1963-1974 which included the first commercial stereo recordings of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. The Utah Symphony’s recordings of Mahler’s symphonies with Maurice Abravanel were the first complete cycle recorded by an American orchestra. Honors for Abravanel’s Mahler recordings with the Orchestra include the “Mahler Medal of Honor” from the Bruckner Society of America (1965) and the International Gustav Mahler Society award for “Best Mahler Recording” (Fifth Symphony, 1975). During Abravanel’s tenure, the Orchestra’s music education program grew into one of the most extensive arts education programs in the region. Educational concerts were given on orchestra tours across the Intermountain West and at home in the Salt Lake Valley, enriching the lives of generations of school children. These education concerts throughout the state of Utah continue to this day. The Orchestra’s 85 full-time professional musicians perform over 175 concerts each season. Since Utah Opera’s founding in 1978, the Utah Symphony has performed for its productions at Salt Lake’s Capitol Theatre. In 2002, the two organizations merged to form Utah Symphony | Utah Opera. In 2003, the Deer Valley® Music Festival in Park City, Utah was founded and became the Orchestra’s summer home.