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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The hills are alive?

By Christie Franke

Picture an amphitheater situated in the hills of Park City. Picnickers are sitting on a lush green hillside, watching a world-class orchestra tune up while the sun sets in the background. Then, a conductor steps on stage and the concert begins.

The Utah Symphony and Opera’s Deer Valley Music Festival is a four-year-old tradition. The festival brings together a unique blend of musical genres — from pop to bluegrass to opera and everything in between. This year, the guest list includes rising stars and well-known artists: newcomers Ferhan and Ferzan nder, Tony Bennett, Jewel and others.

What better way to relax after a long day of hiking or shopping than to sit and listen to fabulous music?

The Vocalists

The four weeks of performances kicked off on July 21 at the Deer Valley Amphitheater with Jewel. The world-famous singer joined with the Utah Symphony, and was “the highlight” of the season, said Jeff Bram, artistic director of the Utah Symphony.

The festival’s finale on Aug. 8 will feature the Utah Symphony and Tony Bennett — yes, the Tony Bennett, the master of classic jazz and American pop music of yesteryear. If you don’t recognize the name, don’t worry — you’ll recognize the voice. Bennett is famous for the song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” and popularly considered on par with Frank Sinatra for his classic, crooning voice.

Bennett’s voice is rich and deep, with a touch of retro appeal that makes him a classic. Although he is the final act of the festival, tickets are going fast for his August 18 performance.

The Overture

The festival not only boasts a number of renowned vocalists, but also the Utah Symphony, which will perform Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, among others.

If you’ve watched Nickelodeon, you’ve heard the 1812 Overture. If you’ve seen V for Vendetta, you’ve heard it (it’s the music playing when V blows up the Old Bailey). The Overture is hard to miss. Tchaikovsky used actual cannons in the first performance, and the Utah Symphony hints at their possible use in the festival.

The Overture commemorates Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia — a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars and a cause for much rejoicing in Russia. The extensive musical story details the French invasion and subsequent battle.

The Utah Symphony is performing the Overture a bit differently this time, however, with the choral version conducted by Keith Lockhart.

The evening promises to be explosive.

The Newcomers

The festival is not only about famous pop stars. A multitude of rising stars are converging on Park City to share their musical talents with us — and this is where the classical portion of the festival really begins to shine.

Ferhan and Ferzan nder, and Time for Three are the top contenders for this year’s best new performance.

Time for Three is a trio of classically trained violinists. It takes both classical pieces and folk tunes and melds these genres into a blend that’s unlike anything else. From Shenandoah to Bach and Brahms, these guys make music sweet, sexy and incredibly fun. This is classical folk of the American variety. Time for Three is like Flogging Molly or the Pogues, only without the guitars and vocals. It’s the sort of music you can dance to, because even though it’s classical, it rocks. Check out their website at

Ferhan and Ferzan nder are twin sisters from Austria who have been playing the piano since they were ten. By the time they were 14 they’d hit it big. These talented girls have a deep sense of the classical. The nder sisters excel in Mozart, so much so that their Vienna debut featured his Double Concerto. In their short tenure on the music scene, they’ve performed in New York, London, Berlin and Vienna, to name only a few.

The Viennese music scene is famously exacting, which comes from its history — Vienna is the birthplace of classical music. The sisters have proven themselves both in Vienna and on worldwide stages with near virtuoso-level abilities on the piano and their flawless ensemble-playing abilities.

So if you like piano music, the nders are the pair to see. Visit their website,

The Veterans

In a departure from new and rising talents, the Muir Quartet is well established. It has been together for 28 years, with 23 spent as Quartet in Residence at the Boston University School of Music. The quartet came together in 1980 and a year later won the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, cementing its presence on the chamber music scene. The quartet has a wide range of recordings, from Mozart and Beethoven to Dvo?ak and Schubert. It also performs a variety of pieces composed by Americans, making it suitably well rounded.

Unlike Time for Three and the nder Duo, the Muir Quartet will perform twice at this year’s festival. More information is available at its website,

The Opera

Don’t forget the Utah Opera. The Utah Symphony does most of the work at the Deer Valley Music Festival, it seems, but the Utah Opera more than holds its own.

This year it’s putting on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers.” This comic opera premiered in 1889 and ran more than five hundred performances before closing in 1891. Considered the last great success of the musical duo, “The Gondoliers” satirizes class distinctions. Don’t let the Victorian dating scare you: this opera is a classic.

“The Gondoliers” revolves around two Venetian gondoliers who are informed that one is the rightful heir to the throne of Barataria. Of course, there are romantic entanglements and mistaken identities, but in the end, everything is resolved and the entire company laughs and dances its way to the finish.

Legend is, Sullivan began doubting his ability to write comic opera by the time Gilbert came up with the idea for “The Gondoliers,” but this jewel of an opera proves he still had what it took to please his audience.

The Deer Valley Music Festival holds a generous appeal to students as one of the last big events of the summer. For those returning to the U, it is a chance to seek out some culture before the start of semester and a chance to discover new bands and hear new things.

The events profiled here are only a small sampling of what is happening at the festival, which also includes string quartets, piano soloists and smaller Utah Symphony performances.

If beating the heat is what you’re after, have no fear — a generous portion of the performances will take place at St. Mary’s Church at 8 p.m. The rest of the performances are at the Deer Valley Resort, but all start later in the evening. So with a little sunscreen and perhaps a hat, you’ll survive.

The dress code? Think dressy-casual. This isn’t the fall concert season, so you don’t need to get too dressed up. The purpose of the concerts is to enjoy yourself — appearance is negotiable.

Four weeks of fine music in a gorgeous setting: what more could anyone possibly ask for?

For performance details and tickets, visit or call 801-355-ARTS.

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