Symphony commemorates former U president

U faculty, students, alumni and fans filled Abravanel Hall last Friday night. Musicians and artists dressed in red walked down a crimson carpet, ready to perform and remember with a concert dedicated to former U president Chase N. Peterson, who died on Sept. 14. Peterson, who was president between 1983 and 1991, was a strong supporter of the Utah Symphony and is a lifetime trustee with the organization.

The University A Cappella choir joined Celena Shafer and Jennifer Johnson, alongside the Utah Chamber Artists and Utah Symphony Chorus to sing two challenging pieces of music by vastly different composers. It was remarkable to hear them sing both softly and loudly with their full sound and rich harmony. Shafer herself filled the room as she sang Mahler’s lyrics about a woman begging an angel to get into heaven. Both artists have received praise from notable publications, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

There was a wide range of different talents showcased that evening. Cellist Anne Lee commented on the lyrical opening of the second movement she was excited to play.

“Being a part of a cello section, playing as one entity in a melody like this, is one of my favorite things about being in an orchestra,” she said.

Hilary Demske, a piano instructor at UVU, spoke before the performance to give a background on Haydn and Mahler. “Haydn really defined what people thought of the symphony in his time and also in ours,” she said.

“It’s one of the top three pieces that is most difficult to perform, out of all of the pieces that Haydn wrote,” Demske said. She played sound recordings from each of the four movements to show the contrast in styles.

Music director Thierry Fischer commanded the podium with his presence and personality as he directed his musicians to execute his musical interpretation of the compositions. His ability to communicate these two very different pieces was surely a testament to his understanding of music theory and performance.

Be sure not to miss this week’s performance of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, featuring violinist Fumiaki Miura. Miura has been playing the violin since he was three years old and has performed with orchestras from all over the world. This symphony will be performed on Nov. 20 at the de Jong Concert Hall in Provo and on Nov. 21 and 22 at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake. Tickets are $10 for students if purchased in advance. Otherwise, tickets are $15 at the door on the night of the performance.

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