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Conductor Thomas Hong will conduct the Utah Symphony during the opening of the 10th annual Deer Valley Music Festival on Saturday. Hong will lead the musicians in a patriotic celebration that will include Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Stars and Stripes Forever." (Photo courtesy of the Utah Symphony)
The Utah Symphony will literally launch the 10th Annual Deer Valley Music Festival when it performs a program that will include Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" this Saturday at the Snow Park Amphitheater.

Adhering to past traditions, the piece will be highlighted by the thunder of cannons provided by the Cannoneers of the Wasatch, said Carey Cusimano, vice president of community development for the festival.

"The Cannoneers have been with us for years," Cusimano said during an interview with The Park Record. "It's always great to hear the music, and even when you know the cannons are coming, it never ceases to completely shock the audience when they go off."

The Cannoneers formed in 1971 when the University of Utah/Snowbird Summer Arts Institute wanted to perform the "1812 Overture," Cusimano said.

The organization has access to 18 historical replica cannons, ranging in size from 25 to 1,000 pounds, and each is controlled by a sophisticated electronic keyboard.

"I just think the music is so powerful," Cusimano said. "It evokes such emotion and has been used traditionally for many years in this fabulous concert."

The concert will be comprised of well-known works.

"We will start with 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' which is always a tradition for the patriotic concert, and then we'll do the overture to 'West Side Story,' Cusimano said. "Then we'll get into our tributes."

Every year the Utah Symphony pays respect to the Armed Forces and performs the themes for the Air Force, the Army, the Navy and the Marines.

"We'll have all the present and former members of the military stand up so we can honor them during this segment," Cusimano said. "Then we close out with the '1812' and wrap it up with John Philip Sousa's 'Stars and Stripes Forever.'"

Cusimano said people enjoy patriotic music for a variety of reasons.

"First is the timing," she said. "We're performing close to the birthday and we look for that nostalgia that will remind us about what we're celebrating."

The second is because of the aforementioned tributes.

"This music is a way to honor those who served and protected us," she said.

Lastly, the music is so familiar.

"Everyone knows a Sousa march or 'The Star-Spangled Banner,'" Cusimano said. "But when you hear these pieces, not to mention the '1812' live with a full orchestra, these pieces becomes something different and powerful."

The concert was originally supposed to be led by Utah Symphony Associate Conductor Vladimir Kulenovic, who, unfortunately, can't be here, Cusimano said.

While he was on vacation out of the country, Kulenovic was injured in an accident, and is recovering in the hospital, and on the advice of his doctors Kulenovic will not be able to fly back to the U.S. until July 6 or 7, according to a Utah Symphony statement.

"Hence, we have brought in guest conductor Thomas Hong," Cusimano said.

Hong, the newly appointed music director of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, is a full-time faculty member of Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston, she said.

Cusimano credits the symphony's artistic team for finding a replacement for Kulenovic for the concert.

"The team has such a great network in the industry and really came through for us," she said. "They really pulled it in at the last minute."

The Deer Valley Music Festival will begin when the Utah Symphony performs a night of patriotic music on Saturday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by visiting www.deervalleymusicfestival.org/