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Chris Samuels, Deseret News
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir received the American Classical Music Hall of Fame Medallion in 2015.

With 2015 having drawn to a close, here’s a look at some of last year's Utah arts highlights, including organizations' anniversaries along with some farewells and new beginnings. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive.


• The Utah Symphony's first concert was performed on May 8, 1940 — 75 years ago. Since then, it has been led by seven conductors, performed in concert halls all over the world, received numerous awards and produced hundreds of recordings, according to a history on the organization’s website.

Ballet West celebrated the 60th anniversary of its annual production of the Christmastime favorite "The Nutcracker." The decadeslong run has included many performers through the years — among them, one woman who previously danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy and now has daughters who performed in the 2015 production.

• The Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City was formed at a Halloween party in 1966 and held its first concert on Feb. 7, 1967, according to its website at cmsofslc.org. Now 50 years old, the organization continues to bring in musical ensembles for local performances.

Repertory Dance Theatre is celebrating its 50th anniversary during the modern dance company's 2015-16 season with four concerts — “Ritual,” “Revel,” “Regalia” and “Revere.”

Tuacahn Amphitheatre, located in Utah's red rock country, turned 20 in 2015. The 1,900-plus-seat amphitheater and 42,000-square-foot art center were completed and dedicated in the spring of 1995. Its first offering was the debut of an original musical titled "Utah!"

• The One Voice Children's Choir Diamond Anniversary Concert in the summer of 2015 commemorated the group's 10-year anniversary. The group was on NBC's "America's Got Talent" in 2014 and has recorded several music videos, including “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen," which featured then-11-year-old Lexi Walker and popular singer Alex Boye.


In 2015, Utah audiences said goodbye to a well-known dancer and to a theater.

Christiana Bennett, the prima ballerina of Ballet West, retired after 16 years with the company. After a show following her announcement, each dancer laid a rose at her feet during the final curtain call. “Nothing will ever compare to that moment," Bennett said in an interview earlier in the year. “I didn’t expect it at all.”

• The year also included the last season of performances held in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Dedicated in 1977, it housed productions of "The Taming of the Shrew," "Henry IV Part Two" and "King Lear" in 2015. In 2016, productions are scheduled to be staged in the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts.


• The Utah Symphony made announcements about two women joining its leadership in 2015. Rei Hotoda, the new associate conductor, made her debut in the summer and is the first woman to be selected for the position.

• Violinist Madeline Adkins was announced as Utah Symphony's next concertmaster in 2015. She will succeed concertmaster Ralph Matson, who has been concertmaster since 1985 and who will become the associate concertmaster, in 2016.

Other events

• In February, Salt Lake City hosted the 2015 American Choral Directors Association conference — an event last held there in 1985. Hundreds of choirs from around the world auditioned, and 40 were selected to perform as thousands of directors and singers shared their love of music.

Also during the conference, it was announced that the 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir had been inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. The choir later closed out the conference with a concert.

Brigham Young University's musical theater department staged the first English-language production of Tony-nominated Frank Wildhorn's "The Count of Monte Cristo" in January 2015.

The musical premiered in 2009 at the Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland with the actors performing the translated text in German. A Korean-language version followed, along with other international stagings.

Pioneer Theatre Company is set to produce “The Count of Monte Cristo” during its 2015-16 season.

Construction began on the new Hale Centre Theatre facilities in Sandy in September 2015. The plans for the 130,000-square-foot, 1350-seat state-of-the-art facility at 9886 Monroe St. in Sandy include a 900-seat center stage theater and a 450-seat proscenium thrust stage. It's scheduled to open in 2017.

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