Muir Quartet will play its final Deer Valley concert
The Muir String Quartet is scheduled to perform its final Deer Valley Music Festival concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Wednesday, July 22, and founding cellist Michael Reynolds said the past 12 years have been a great musical trip.
"We have been with the festival since its inception in 2003," Reynolds told The Park Record during an interview earlier this week. "It has been a nice fit and a wonderful partnership."
The Utah Symphony is reconfiguring the festival, and that’s why the quartet won’t return next year, according to a statement by Interim CEO Pat Richards.
"As Utah Symphony | Utah Opera continues to evaluate how we might best connect our community through great live music, we have shifted the focus our chamber music concerts in our summer home at the Deer Valley Music Festival to feature Utah Symphony musicians rather than visiting chamber ensembles," said Richards. "The Muir Quartet has been a valued part of the festival, performing concerts and salon events since 2004. We are proud of that long relationship, but are modifying our programming to better match our current philosophy of the festival."
For its swan song, the Quartet — Reynolds, violist Steven Ansell and violinists Peter Zazofsky and Lucia Lin — will perform Dvorak’s "Cypresses" for String Quartet, Joan Tower’s Bassoon Quintet and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Major, Op. 131.
"Dvorak’s ‘Cypresses’ are some of our favorite starter pieces, and we’ve played them many times all over the world," Reynolds said. "They are pieces that were originally composed for voice and Dvorak did what other composers do, he plagiarized from himself to create these lovely vignettes for string quartet. We chose several of them that we felt would be a good fit and flow well in the program."
The Tower Quartet will be a Utah premiere, according to Reynolds.
"We have a long tradition of performing something that Joan has composed during every concert we have played at the Deer Valley Music Festival, so this program will be a great grand finale for our time here," he said. "This work was originally written for chamber orchestra and bassoon, so it was like a mini bassoon concerto, and a virtuosic piece for the musicians."
Reynolds and the rest of the Muir Quartet talked with Tower last year about shrinking the score into a quintet piece, and she agreed.
"It’s a very successful piece that is beautifully written," Reynolds said. "We played it in Virginia and in Montana just last week and it shows what a bassoon can really do, especially if you have a great player."
The player Reynolds is referring to is his sister Kathleen Reynolds.
"We are very fortunate that she is a great bassoon player," Reynolds said. "She’s a bassoon professor at the University of North Texas and, I’m biased of course, but she’s one of the best bassoonists in the world."
The quartet selected the Beethoven quartet to close the show.
"Beethoven felt this was his crowning achievement in the chamber literature, the Op. 131, and this was the quartet that he was most proud of," Reynolds said. "We have played it many times all over the world for many years and want to share that with the audience."
St. Mary’s Catholic Church will add to the beauty of the selections, Reynolds said.
"The venue is really spectacular," he said. "When we first started playing there, we were not only astonished by the physical beauty, but the acoustical loveliness of it all."
The Muir Quartet has been part of the Deer Valley Music Festival since its inception in 2003. Before that, Reynolds and his fellow musicians hosted music-education programs at Snowbird Resort in Salt Lake County.
"We originally started our education program there and were fortunate to receive a three-year financial gift that would help us move the program up and running in Deer Valley beginning in 1999," Reynolds said. "At the end of those three years, were approached by then CEO Anne Ewers to see if we would be interested in starting an educational, chamber-music component with the Deer Valley Music Festival as it was forming, and we said yes."
Reynolds said he will miss coming to Deer Valley each summer, but will remember all the experiences he and the quartet have had.
"For us it’s a great place to focus and have some time to work on our next season’s repertoire," he said. "We’ve also been avid outdoors people as a group. I grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and Utah has been a fantastic place not only to work but also to play.
"I’m also an avid fly fisherman and have been able to get out every year with dear old friends," Reynolds said. "It’s hard to nail anything down as a highlight, but it’s been a great place for us to educate and perform."
The Deer Valley Music Festival Chamber Series will present the Muir Quartet at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 While Pine Canyon Rd., on Wednesday, July 22, at 8 p.m. Quintet with bassoonist Kathleen Reynolds and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131. Tickets are $34 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.deervalleymusicfestival.org .
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