The Utah Symphony is a full-time orchestra located in Salt Lake City, Utah. It has become a vital presence on the American music scene through its distinctive performances worldwide and its well-known recording legacy. The orchestra performs in Abravanel Hall (in downtown Salt Lake City near Temple Square), which is acclaimed as one of the world's great concert halls - having won awards for both its architecture and its extraordinary acoustics.
In addition to performing more than 70 subscription concerts in Abravanel Hall, the Symphony regularly travels around the Intermountain West serving communities in Utah, Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho. In April 2005, the orchestra embarked on its first European Tour in 19 years, visiting concert halls in Austria and Germany.
The orchestra accompanies the Utah Opera in four productions per year at Salt Lake's Capitol Theatre. In addition, the Utah Symphony performs numerous concerts as part of Utah Symphony & Opera's Deer Valley Music Festival, held each summer in the Park City mountain community. Funding from the Utah State Legislature makes it possible for the Symphony to perform for over 55,000 students each year, both in Abravanel Hall and traveling to schools throughout the state.
The first attempt to create a symphony group in the Utah area occurred in 1892, before Utah was a state. The Salt Lake Symphony was created and presented just one concert before disbanding. In 1902 the Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra was formed, and it remained in existence until 1911. In 1913 the Salt Lake Philharmonic was formed, and it remained in existence until 1925.
During the Great Depression, the Federal Music Project (an employment-assistance program which formed part of Federal Project Number One, an arm of the Works Project Administration) hired Reginald Beales to create a musical group in Utah. He formed the Utah State Sinfonietta with a core of 5 members. That group grew rapidly and toured extensively, presenting concerts in all corners of the state.
By 1940 federal funding for arts projects had ceased, so local enthusiasts formed the Utah State Symphony Orchestra on 4 April 1940, with Fred E. Smith as president. They scheduled their first concert for 8 May 1940 and asked Hans Henriot to conduct it. He accepted the challenge, and the resulting concert was so successful that the group offered Henriot a contract to remain at the helm. This symphony group functioned until the 1960s as a part-time orchestra. Its most prominent conductor was Maurice Abravanel, who built it into a full-time orchestra which gained national respect. He recorded and toured extensively with the orchestra. Under Abravanel, its Music Director from 1947 to 1979, the orchestra first recorded with Vanguard Records and then with Vox Records; many of these performances, including a complete set of the symphonies of Tchaikovsky, have been reissued on CD. They also recorded works by Varese, Milhaud, Gottschalk, Honegger and Satie, as well as an early complete cycle of Mahler Symphonies.
The orchestra received added luster by the appointment of Joseph Silverstein as conductor in 1983. Mr. Silverstein's experience as concertmaster of the esteemed Boston Symphony Orchestra served him well in guiding the Utah Symphony during his tenure, which lasted until 1998.
Its former music director and principal conductor was Keith Lockhart (his contract with the orchestra expired in May 2009). Under Silverstein and Lockhart, the orchestra continued its commitment to the music of our time, recording and premiering a number of American works. The assistant conductor is Korean-born David In-Jae Cho. In January 2009 the Orchestra named Gerald Steichen as its principal pops conductor. In September 2009, USUO selected Thierry Fischer as the new music director.
Merger with Utah Opera:
Utah Symphony and Utah Opera were combined following a merger in 2002. At the time of the merger, it was one of only two merged symphony and opera companies in the United States.
The Deer Valley Music Festival (DVMF) is Utah Symphony and Utah Opera's (USUO's) summer home in the mountain resort town of Park City, Utah.
Thierry Fischer (2009-present),
Keith Lockhart (1998-2009),
Joseph Silverstein (1983-1998),
Varujan Kojian (1980-1983),
Maurice Abravanel (1947-1979),
Werner Janssen (1946-1947),
Hans Heniot (1940-1945)