Utah Symphony to perform Berlioz' 'Childhood of Christ'

Published: Saturday, Nov. 12 2011 4:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Symphony and music director Thierry Fischer will usher in the Christmas season with Hector Berlioz’ biblical epic, “The Childhood of Christ," on Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. at Abravanel Hall.

The performance of Berlioz' sacred trilogy will feature the Utah Symphony Chorus and vocalists John Tessier, Chad Millar, Benedict Nelson, Keith Miller and Utah natives Christopher Clayton and Tamara Mumford.

“The Childhood of Christ,” or “L’enfance du Christ,” is a choral work commonly performed during the Christmas season, with solo singers portraying characters in the story of Mary and Joseph’s flight from Bethlehem into Egypt with their newborn babe.

Drawing on memories of the music he heard while taking communion as a boy and of the religious oratorios exposed to him by his music teacher, Berlioz did not purposefully begin “L’enfance” with the vision of becoming what it is. Rather, he caught the idea after converting an organ piece he penned for a friend into a choral arrangement about shepherds saying farewell to the Christ child as he leaves Bethlehem.

The rest took form over the next couple of years, with listeners proclaiming that Berlioz had found just the right color in which to set this biblical tale.

Fischer and Toby Tolokan, vice president of artistic planning for the symphony, will present a free pre-concert lecture each night, 45 minutes prior to the start of the performance in the First Tier Room of Abravanel Hall.

Tickets for the evening performances range from $17 to $51 and can be purchased by calling 801-355-2787, in person at the Abravanel Hall ticket office (123 W. South Temple) or by visiting www.usuo.org. Season ticket holders and those looking for group discounts can call 801-533-6683. Student discounts are available. Ticket prices will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance.

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

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