Utah Symphony

Utah’s Oldest And Largest Non-profit Arts Organization

Utah’s oldest and largest non-profit arts organization – which merged in 2002 as the only joint symphony and Opera Company of its size in the country – has a mission to connect communities through great live music, much of which are timeless classics written centuries ago.

The company’s education outreach department is considered one of the most robust in the nation – it reaches every school district in the state on a three to five-year rotation, amounting to 155,000 students and more than 35 percent of Utah’s public schools each year.

Every few years, the orchestra also takes the show on the road to rural communities performing free outdoor concerts at the farthest reaches of the state, often against southern Utah’s iconic red rock landscape.

Evolving the audience experience has been part of the approach. As one of only 15 full time orchestras in the nation, Utah Symphony’s transformation from staid and traditional to current has been a necessary one, prompted by the growing intersection between digital realms and the public’s desire for accessibility and entertainment being bundled into one experience.

The Films in Concert series presents full length blockbuster movies from Harry Potter to Star Wars while the orchestra performs the soundtrack live to picture.

Cassandra Dozet has a passion for translating the typical classical music experience into one that is engaging and inspirational for audiences. As the Director of Operations for the Utah Symphony, she has led a project called UNWOUND that presents shorter, more casual concerts unlike ones the orchestra has presented before.

“Unwound is especially exciting because it brings together a team of younger voices who are not often heard at the table, and gives them open space to pave new ways in to the incredible music that generations before us have treasured,” explains Cassandra, who has been with USUO for seven years.

“We haven’t created a brand new product—instead we’ve highlighted aspects of the live concert experience that are already special but not usually brought into such clear focus.”

Pre-concert activities include food trucks on the plaza, beer and trivia in the lobby, and T-shirt presses running custom prints. Patrons are encouraged to wear jeans – the entire orchestra is dressed down in jeans themselves. An onstage host guides the audience through what to look for, listen for and pay attention to. Go-Pro cameras trained on the conductor’s face and soloist’s hands broadcast images onto screens above the stage, bringing a new perspective to the concert experience.

Christopher McBeth

Cassandra Dozet

On the opera side of the business, Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth is devoted to bringing new opera to the Capitol Theater stage each year, including “Moby-Dick” in January 2017 and “The Little Prince” in January 2018, for both of which the company built all new sets and costumes.

His philosophy? That as an evolving art form with roots in tradition, contemporary productions serve to shed light on current issues and engage audiences in “…the breadth of what this terrific art form can offer.”

Indeed, Utah Opera’s 38,000 square foot state-of-the-art Production Studios house space for scenic artists, backdrop and set designers and builders, lighting, woodwork and welding experts, and a full costume studio that employs stitchers and drapers year-round. Since its inception in 1978 by Glade Peterson, the company has valued the creation and maintenance of costumes and sets, to this day generating annual rental revenues that can amount to $260,000 from other regional opera companies who rent pieces.

(Building a complete set from scratch can cost upwards of $150,000.) Costumes for more than 45 productions and sets for nearly two dozen operas are stored and rented to companies around the country.

In short, creating a community of music lovers that stretch to the corners of the state, and encompass urban and rural settings, drives the heart of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, whose motto “music changes lives” is the driving force for all it creates.

Utah Symphony performs on an outdoor stage in southern Utah during the orchestra’s Mighty 5 Tour in 2014.

Utah Symphony’s Unwound series features multimedia projections above the stage, the orchestra in blue jeans, and a dynamic lobby experience that capture concert goers’ imagination.

Utah Symphony

www.usuo.org
801-533-5626
123 W South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah

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