Life for Maureen McGovern is a kaleidoscope, revolving with constant but varying musical accompaniment.

"I'm having a great time," the singer and actress said Tuesday in a phone interview from her home in New York City. She said she is looking forward to returning to Salt Lake City to perform Friday and Saturday with the Utah Symphony."I did some things several years ago with the Osmonds in Orem - it's a lovely area," she said. This weekend's two concerts will be her first with the Utah Symphony.

McGovern's variegated career has included everything from recording movie theme songs, which became hit pop favorites, to recent work in musical theater, television and nightclubs to concert appearances with major symphony orchestras.

"I have great affection for those movie themes. I know everyone immediately associates them with me, but sometimes I wish they'd forget them," she said, laughing.

One of three albums McGovern has recently finished is a collection of her greatest hits and includes the movie themes, "The Morning After" from "The Poseiden Adventure"; "We May Never Love Like This Again" from "The Towering Inferno"; and "Can You Read My Mind" from "Superman" - and "is also filled with other curious things."

A sampling of those will be part of the upcoming concerts - along with some of McGovern's own favorites, many of them works of Gershwin.

"Gershwin is an absolute delight to record . . . I've had a passion for Gershwin since I was a child. He's a perfect composer for me to explore because I love jazz and classical and theater as well as pop music.

"He's a classic American treasure . . . he's given us music to last throughout the ages," she said.

"I remember when I was a child and `Porgy and Bess' arrived and I got a record . . . as a teenager I played guitar and enjoyed folk music. Particularly Ira is a real wit . . . the sophisticated intelligence in his lyrics is wonderful."

McGovern has also taken a turn on Broadway and has received critical acclaim. She moved to New York City in 1980 and replaced Linda Ronstadt in "The Pirates of Penzance." She had the role of Luisa Contini in "Nine," opposite Raul Julia.

"I've worked off-Broadway in a revival of a Gershwin musical `Brownstone,' did `Three Penny Opera' a year ago with Sting and lots of regional theater in between."

Her varied career is continuing, with new recordings, nightclub shows, television and concert appearances - with symphonies or simple piano accompaniment.

McGovern's favorite activity?

"I'm doing Garrison Keillor shows which are great fun. He's starting his second year with American Radio Company of the Air, and I've become a semiregular; we're doing four shows this fall and more in the spring.

"The man is an absolute genius. You never know quite what's going to happen . . . he had me doing one song as a chicken!"

Aside from work, McGovern is involved in several charities. "I sponsor eight kids through Save the Children . . . I'm encouraging people for the holidays, instead of racking their brains to figure out what to get for people - most of us already have far more than we need - to give a gift sponsorship. They can sponsor a child in someone else's name."

She is also vice president of Muscular Dystrophy Association - she calls it a "wonderful organization" - and Children With AIDS Care Program in New York.

McGovern sees her future as a continuing medley of activity. She'd like to do more acting, along with her work in music and musical theater.

"I would love to do more television - something non-singing, since most everything in my life so far has been music. I'd do comedy, drama, whatever they'd like."

She is also planning an album of American arts songs some time after her just-finished albums of Christmas music and her greatest hits and another - Nymph Errant, on which she is a guest artist - are released in coming weeks.

Not one to relax - even during spare time while on tour, McGovern plans to spend some time in Salt Lake City away from Symphony Hall.

"I'll be looking for a health-food store first, then I'll probably try to find an art museum. I love antiques so I'll probably go antiquing."

The concerts begin at 8 each evening. Tickets range from $10 to $25 (with student tickets available for $5) and can be purchased at the Symphony Hall Box Office, 123 W. South Temple. For more information or to place phone orders, call 533-6683.