Deer Valley Music Festival prepares for liftoff and honors the moon landing

The concert is a tribute to space exploration and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Park Record file photo

Deer Valley Music Festival “Symphonic Space Celebration”

7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 26

Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater.

$15 to $78

The Utah Symphony is ready to shoot the audience to the stars as it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the moon with a “Symphonic Space Celebration.”

The concert, which is part of the Deer Valley Music Festival, will start at 7;30 p.m. on Friday, July 26, at the Snow Park Amphitheater, and feature music from various films and classical symphonies that are inspired by space, said Toby Tolokan, vice president of symphony artistic planning. (See accompanying list).

Some of the pieces will be accompanied by video provided by Clark Planetarium and videographer Banner Fells, according to Tolokan.

The planetarium videos, curated by director Seth Jarvis and his team, will accompany “Mars” and “Jupiter,” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” symphony, Tolokan said.

“They also put together a video of Saturn 5 and Apollo 11 rocket launches that will go with the opening fanfare of Richard Strauss’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra,’ which many know as the theme from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’” Tolokan said.

Tolokan and Deer Valley Principal Conductor Conner Gray Covington decided to open the second half of the evening with that work and video.

“We wanted to be fair to our audience,” Tolokan said. “Sometimes people can’t get to the hill on time, and we didn’t want anyone to miss it.”

One of two videos, produced by Fells, who travels the country working on technical crews for the Film in Concert series, will accompany the Utah Symphony’s rendition of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”

“‘Clair de Lune’ of course means ‘moonlight,’ and Brannon has put together a video sequence of fantastic close-up shots of our one-and-only moon,” Tolokan said. “We placed that piece later in the concert after the sun goes down.”

The other video by Fells will show with a piece called “D.O.N.E.” from a work called “Transcend,” by Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian.

The symphony commissioned the piece to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, Tolokan said.

“‘D.O.N.E.’ is the third movement of the piece, and those are the letters that were sent in Morse code when the Golden Spike was hammered into place,” he said. “So the rhythm of the Morse code is the rhythm of the piece.”

The symphony is performing this piece because of historic synergy, Tolokan said.

“When you think about it, 1969 is when man first stepped on the moon, and it’s 100 years since the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869,” he said. “There was such an amazing rapid growth from railroads to airplanes to rockets to the moon.”

Tolokan asked Fells to create a video that takes audiences from the railroad into space, he said.

Tolokan also said the concert isn’t just about historic events in space.

“We didn’t want it to be an evening of academia,” he said with a laugh. “So we also included film music.”

Among the compositions are excerpts from Harry Gregson-Williams’ score from Ridley Scott’s 2015 Academy Award-winning “The Martian,” Bill Conti’s music from Philip Kaufman’s Academy Award-winning 1983 film, “The Right Stuff,” which is a film about the Mercury 7 astronauts who paved the 15-year road to Apollo 11, and “Star Trek Through the Years,” arranged by Calvin Custer.

“Star Trek Through the Years” features music from the classic TV show and goes through “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” to “Next Generation,” “Deep Space 9” and the others, according to Tolokan.

The program will be highlighted by soprano Melissa Heath, who is currently the voice area coordinator at Utah Valley University, he said.

“She often sings with us, but is known for her work with the Ballet West Orchestra when the dance company performs ‘Carmina Burana,’” Tolokan said.

Heath will perform Friday on “Estralitta, Star of Love” by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, the aria “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka” and on Gus Edwards’ 1909 classic, “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.”

Tolokan said Friday’s program wouldn’t be possible for the Utah Symphony’s library team.

“They helped pull things together,” he said. “A lot of music, especially the classical works, are already in our library, but the film stuff had to be tracked down. And they did a great job.”

“Symphonic Space Celebration” program

Main Title from “Battlestar Galactica” by Larson Philips

“Music of the Spheres” by Josef Strauss

“Mars, Bringer of War” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”

“Fly Like Iron Man” from “The Martian” by Harry Gregson-Williams

“End Credits” from “The Right Stuff” by Bill Conti

“Estrellita, Star of Love” by Manuel Ponce

“‘Star Trek’” Through The Years” arranged by Calvin Custer


Opening fanfare from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss

“Music from ‘Apollo 13’” by James Horner

“By the Light of the Silvery Moon” by Gus Edwards

“D.O.N.E.” from “Transcend” by Zhou Tian

“Song to the Moon” from “Rusalka” by Dvorak

“Clair de lune (Moonlight)” by Debussy/Caplet

“Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst

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