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The Utah Symphony announced their "Great American Road Trip" tour, slated for Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, 2017 at the Natural History Museum. Left to right: Renée Huang, Public Relations Director, Paul Meecham, President & CEO Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, Toby Tolokan, Vice President of Artistic Planning, Utah Symphony, Vicki Varela, Managing Director of Utah Office of Tourism, Sarah George, Executive Director of Natural History Museum of Utah, Bettymaya Foott, Consortium for Dark Sky Studies. 

Three years ago the Utah Symphony drew wide praise with their Mighty 5 Tour, bringing the majesty of nature and magic of music together in Utah's five national parks. From August 29 to September 2 this year, the symphony, under the leadership of Music Director Thierry Fischer, will once again embark on an epic tour around the state to perform at state parks and national monuments in what's been dubbed the "Great American Road Trip." This new tour allows for a whole new level of collaboration between the Utah Symphony and other organizations, including the National History Museum of Utah, the Utah Office of Tourism, and the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative. In addition to three full orchestra concerts and two chamber performances, the tour will also feature educational outreach, pre-concert activities, and post-concert "star parties" hosted by local astronomy groups. The icing on the cake: it's all free and open to the public. 

The unique combination of performing the highest level of classical music in unique venues was one of the attractions that drew Paul Meecham, President and CEO of the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera to the state in the first place. And while there is no definitive timeline for how frequently the symphony will take to the road, it is something they're certainly hoping to do with some regularity. "What better way to connect great live music with the unparalleled natural beauty and heritage of our state than for the Utah Symphony to perform outdoors in the heart of our dramatic landscape!" said Meechem. "Touring is a core part of the Symphony's commitment to our state, and it's something I'm very proud to be part of." Meecham also emphasized the importance of the new partnerships the symphony is building and the ability it gives them to present free concerts to rural communities and visitors who would otherwise not have access.

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The Utah Symphony during the Might 5 Tour at Zion National Park, the only location the symphony will revisit for the "Great American Road Trip."

Image: Utah Symphony

Through the new partnerships the tour will be able to call attention to not just Utah's treasured natural monuments, but also to the cultural heritage of this land. A variety of educational outreach programs, including in-school assemblies and pre-concert interactive presentations, will be put on by the Natural History Museum focusing on their goals of providing nature-centric programming and engaging in local communities. One of the great focuses this year is the inclusion of Utah's Native American heritage, something that will be reflected in the educational outreach and the musical program with pieces by Native American composer Brent Michael Davids, including his concerto "Fluting Around" on a traditional wooden flute, and vocals by Utah Opera Resident Artist soprano Abigail Rethwisch. "We are so proud to include a Native American performer and composer in the tour and hope our concerts will strengthen the connection between all of the wonderful people who call this special place home," said Maestro Fischer.

Another focus of the tour will be the celebration of the gorgeous night skies thanks to the help of the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative and the University of Utah's Consortium for Dark Sky Studies. Roughly eight out of ten kids born in the U.S. today will never see the Milky Way because they'll never experience a night sky dark enough due to light pollution from cities. Thankfully, Utah is home to the greatest number (a total of 25) in any state, province, or non-U.S. country in the world, of accredited or aspiring International Dark Sky Parks. The designation requires a year long application process, various dark sky measurements, and continuing dark sky programming. Attendees will have the chance to experience the phenomenal night skies of Utah in the post-concert "star parties," where local astronomy organizations and park rangers will present night sky lectures and allow for viewing of the magnificent rural skies through high-powered telescopes.

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Close-up of brass chamber  

Image: Utah Symphony

Program, Dates, & Locations

Instead of touring in Utah's renowned national parks, the "Great American Road Trip," seeks to highlight some of Utah's lesser known, but equally special state parks and national monuments. Musical selections for the performances include highly nature-centric pieces to complement the surroundings and bring the landscape to life.

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The route of for the "Great American Road Trip" will take the symphony around the Utah.

Image: Utah Symphony

Full Orchestra Performances will be presented at 8 p.m. on August 29 at the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater beside Zion National Park in Springdale, UT, on August 31 neat Natural Bridges/Hovenweep National Monuments in Bluff, UT, and September 2 at Split Mountain in Dinosaur National Monument in Vernal, UT. The program is as follows:

  • Bernstein - Overture to Candide
  • Copland - "The Promise of Living" from "The Tender Land"
  • Brent Michael Davids - "Spirit Woman Song"
  • Brent Michael Davids - "Fluting Around, II". Wooden Flute
  • Dvorak - Symphony No. 8, I. Allegro con brio

Intermission

  • Mussorgsky (arr. Rimsky-Korsakov) - "Night on Bald Mountain"
  • Debussy (arr. Caplet) - "Clair de lune" from "Suite Bergmanasque"
  • Dvorak - "Song to the Moon" from "Rusalka"
  • Mozart - "Là chi darem la mano" from "Don Giovanni"
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein - "People Will Say We're in Love" from "Oklahoma" 
  • Offenbach - "Fly Duet" from "Orpheus in the Underworld"
  • Rossini - Overture to "William Tell"

Chamber Music Performances are scheduled for August 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Cedar Breaks National Monument and September 1 at 2 p.m. in Goblin Valley State Park. These performances will feature the Utah Symphony Brass Quintet led by principal trumpet Travis Peterson.

*Tickets for the performances are FREE and can be obtained through the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera ticket office beginning May 31 or by calling 801.533.6683. Based on availability, walk-up tickets on the night of each concert may be offered. For more info visit: utahsymphony.org/tours/GART. Lead funding for the tour comes from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, with additional support from FJ Management Inc., the state of Utah, Zions Bank and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This is one of the rare opportunities to listen to professional classical music in the great outdoors, an opportunity you won't want to miss. Mark your calendars ladies and gentlemen! In the meantime, don't forget to check out our event calendar for concerts from the Deer Valley Music Festival for more stunning performances by the Utah Symphony (including music from Prince, the Beach Boys, Harry Potter, and more) live in Park City all summer long!

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