Hotoda will lead Chang and Utah Symphony in chamber concert |

Hotoda will lead Chang and Utah Symphony in chamber concert

Conductor will join Fresno Philharmonic next season

Rei Hotoda enjoys the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera's Deer Valley Music Festival.

Hotoda, who has served as the associate conductor of the Utah Symphony for the past two years, said there is a special feeling when she conducts the Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra concerts at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

"Performing at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City is amazing, of course, but St. Mary's is an intimate setting where you have the audience almost surrounding the musicians,"
Hotoda said during a phone interview with The Park Record from her home in Illinois.
"Every time I play there, I feel so close to the audience. That is very special because the audience is less than 7 feet away from me."

Hotoda will lead the Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra through works by Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and more starting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, at St. Mary's. And she's looking forward to it.

"I feel the music is highlighted there," Hotoda said. "Not only is the audience closer to the instruments making the gorgeous music. The structure of the venue creates an incredible surround sound."

By surround sound, Hotoda means the music sounds immediate and exposed.

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"The musicians can feel the connection right away, and you know the audience also feels it," she said. "Also, as an added bonus, when you open up the doors and see the beautiful scenery and hear cowbells in the distance, it's like a dream."

Wednesday's concert will include six pieces: Mozart Overture to "The Impresario;" Beethoven Violin Romance No. 1; Haydn Symphony No. 94 "Surprise;" Faure's Pavane; Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen" and Beethoven — Sections from "The Creatures of Prometheus."

"This is a program that is accessible to everyone: lovers of classical music and newcomers to classical music," Hotoda said. "I picked this program because I felt it would be delightful to hear during the summer. It's not too heavy, and it's not too serious. It's like a dessert platter of classical music."

The concert will feature violinist Hana Chang, winner of the 2016 Stradivarius International Violin Competition.

Chang will perform Beethoven Violin Romance No. 1 as well as the Sarasate work.

"My soloist is an incredibly talented musician, who I don't think is even in high school, yet," Hotoda said.

The conductor is especially in awe of Chang's performance of "Zigeunerweisen."

"Talk about fireworks on an instrument," Hotoda said. "Usually when you watch a violinist you will see the left hand playing the notes and the right hand bowing. When you see her playing it, you will see her left hand [plucking the strings] at the same time as she plays the notes. That means her bow will be flying across the strings."

Chang suggested the Sarasate and Beethoven pieces, and Hotoda built the rest of the program around them.

"The Haydn symphony is one of the pillars of the classical repertoire and is the central focus of the evening," Hotoda said. "We'll perform that right before intermission."

The second Beethoven piece, "The Creatures of Prometheus," which will close the evening is, like the Violin Romance, one of the composer's middle-period pieces.

"What's interesting about this is audiences will hear a snippet of another familiar Beethoven symphony in the last moments," Hotoda said. "It's the melody of the last movement of the 'Eroica' symphony," which he wrote after the 'Prometheus' work. He just reused the melody."

This season's Deer Valley Music Festival will be the last for Hotoda as a Utah Symphony conductor.

She will lead the full orchestra in the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture on Friday, Aug. 4, and do a fall tour before heading to California as music director for the Fresno Philharmonic.

"I'm very excited to go there," said Hotoda, who was with the Utah Symphony for two years. "I was one of over 100 applicants to apply for the music director position, which is the next step for an assistant conductor."

Hotoda applied for several positions throughout the country and was a finalist for several openings.

"The one at Fresno kind of stuck," she said. "There was a great rapport between the orchestra and me. They are a group of incredible musicians."

Hotoda said the Fresno community felt good on different levels.

"I also love the diversity, and I look forward to bringing the community closer to the orchestra," she said.

The conductor said she will miss Utah.

"A part from the amazing level of playing in the orchestra and the great repertoire that [Music Director] Thierry Fischer has presented, I really enjoyed getting to know the community," she said. "I felt like people really support the arts there, and that is so special and so incredible.

"I've learned so much from just the support of the patrons who came to the symphony. I saw their dedication, and I saw how much they truly love this organization. I felt that immediately when I started conducting the concerts, and I will miss Park City and Salt Lake City very much."

The Deer Valley Music Festival will present a chamber concert, conducted by Rei Hotoda, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Road. For tickets and information, visit