Utah Symphony to start with a bang

By Christie Frank, Red Pulse Contributo

The Utah Symphony is opening its 69th season with a bang. On Sept. 12 at 8 p.m., Keith Lockhart will ring in his final year as music director with two performances by Beethoven: “Concerto No. 4 for Piano,” featuring Garrick Ohlsson, and the fabulous “Symphony No. 9.”

Everybody knows the Ninth8212;it’s one of those classic pieces of instrumental music that’s used in everything from movies to TV shows to commercials for beer during the Super Bowl. It gets in your head and stays there forever. Specifically, it’s the chorale at the end, where they actually sing Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” that people recognize. Contemporaries of Beethoven thought that the man had finally dropped his basket completely when they heard that he was writing a symphony with a chorale movement at the end8212;it was something that was just not done at the time. Of course the result was a piece of music so enduringly powerful that NASA put a recording of it on the Mars rovers in a vague hope that aliens enjoy Beethoven and would realize that the German blaring at them was about peace, and not something else entirely. More importantly, it was performed by orchestras from five countries at the fall of the Berlin Wall8212;the raw emotion it contains literally does give such events a special oomph. The Symphony’s performance of the Ninth will feature the Utah Symphony Chorus, who did a remarkable job during the 2005 performance of “Carmina Burana”. The adrenaline rush will be so powerful that you’ll bounce in your seat and dance the whole way home. Beethoven’s funny that way.
“Concerto No. 4 for Piano” is an extremely tricky piece of music to master, but pianist Garrick Ohlsson has done just that. A Juilliard graduate, Ohlsson has performed with symphonies all over the country, as well as in Europe. He has won many distinguished prizes and has made his mark in the music world as one of the best pianists of his generation. It will be a treat to hear him perform. “Symphony No. 9” follows, as it did in Beethoven’s own lifetime.

For those interested (and wealthy enough), there will be a gala held at the 23rd Floor Event Center in the Wells Fargo Center on Sept. 12. Tickets cost $150 for the gala8212;that includes dinner and reception before the concert and desserts after, or $50 if you belong to the Vivace group for young adults. Call 801-533-NOTE (533-6683) for more information. For tickets to the opening concert on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13 at 8 p.m., call 801-355-ARTS (355-2787) and ask for a student ticket. They’re well priced and a nice way of staying cheap. Or visit www.utahsymphonyopera.com.

If the opening concert can’t be made, keep in mind that there are other fantastic performances too that are done almost once a week, including a one-man opera, Sibelius’s concertos, and Judy Garland in concert. Elgar and Brahms come to town, as does Mozart with his eerily beautiful Requiem. It’s going to be a busy and wonderful season for the Symphony. And don’t forget, the Opera starts up in October. Bring on the season!

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