SALT LAKE CITY — Put on your robes and grab your light sabers: The Utah Symphony has revealed its exciting lineup for the 2018-19 season, and as the symphony announced Thursday, Harry Potter and Star Wars both made the cut.
Kicking off in November 2018, the symphony's ongoing Film in Concert series will feature the 1980s classic “Ghostbusters” live-to-film. Keeping on schedule to perform all of the Harry Potter movies in the next few years, the Utah Symphony will play John Williams’ scores to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” later on in November 2018 and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in June 2019 while audience members follow the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione on the big screen.
Fans of Williams’ music get an additional treat, as the symphony is set to perform “Star Wars: A New Hope” in May 2019 following a two-night performance of “Casablanca” — which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary — in March 2019.
“We’re having such fun programming this Film in Concert series," Utah Symphony and Utah Opera CEO Paul Meecham said. "It’s proven to be very popular, and it’s enabling us to do a variety of film scores. … (It's) a way to reconnect people with these classic movies."
Also carrying over into the symphony’s upcoming season is the celebration of late American composer Leonard Bernstein’s birth centennial. On Sept. 14-15, 2018, the orchestra will perform a tribute to Bernstein’s works for Broadway, bringing in a guest conductor and vocalist Morgan James — a performer widely known for her collaborations with jazz collective Postmodern Jukebox. Under the direction of the animated Thierry Fischer, now in his eighth full season with the Utah Symphony, the orchestra will also hold semi-staged performances of Bernstein’s popular “Candide” in collaboration with Utah Opera Nov. 9-10, 2018 — an event Meecham is particularly excited about.
“I have a head start on everyone else because this is something that when I was (president of the) Baltimore Symphony we did there,” he told the Deseret News. “It’s the same production and it is amazing. I’m thrilled that we’re able to bring it here. If you had to nail me to the wall, that’s one thing that I’m really excited about.”
Next season, the symphony is also commemorating another anniversary, this one more particular to Utah. In May of 1869, the final railway spike was put in place to connect the rails of America’s first Transcontinental Railway at Promontory Summit, Utah. To celebrate the occasion's 150th anniversary, the symphony has commissioned a new orchestral work from Grammy-nominated Chinese composer Zhou Tian to be performed May 17-18, 2019, a program that will also feature Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and “Billy the Kid.”
Earlier in the season, the symphony will perform Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” alongside the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs and in October 2018, the orchestra will bring in its artist-in-association, Russian-American violinist Philippe Quint, to perform John Corigliano’s concerto “The Red Violin” from the 1999 film of the same name.
Throughout the season, the Utah Symphony will perform all six of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and also perform — and record live — several works by French composer Hector Berlioz, culminating in a live Berlioz album for the Hyperion record label. Among the Berlioz pieces performed will be “Symphonie fantastique,” a work Fischer conducted in his first concert with the Utah Symphony.
“Over the 10 years since I first conducted the Utah Symphony, it’s been an immense pleasure to witness and be a part of the ensemble’s incredible musical growth and the heightened enthusiasm for classical music it has inspired throughout Utah,” Fischer stated in a news release. “Given the exceptional talent of the orchestra and all the wonderful guest artists who will be joining us in Salt Lake City, we’re sure audiences will be as thrilled listening to this music as we’ll be in performing it.”
Other highlights of the Utah Symphony’s 79th season include performances of Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony,” performing modern works by Utah Symphony’s 2018-19 composer-in-association, Los-Angeles-based Andrew Norman, an evening of Spanish-themed music featuring Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” and selections from “Carmen,” as well as bringing in a variety of guest artists and conductors to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Brahms’ “Violin Concerto,” among others.
The season will conclude May 24-25, 2019, with a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. To view the full season, visit utahsymphony.org. As part of its recent initiative to expand audiences by encouraging families to attend performances together, the Family Pass, which allows a family of four to attend a concert for $30, will be available for select performances, and many of the concerts will have earlier start times.