Patriotic Pops kicks off the Deer Valley Music Festival
June 30, 2015
It’s time to celebrate America’s birthday and the Utah Symphony has planned the perfect party.
On Saturday, July 4, the award-winning orchestra will kick off its annual Deer Valley Music Festival with Patriotic Pops at the Snow Park Amphitheater.
The production, led by the symphony’s Principal Pops Conductor Jerry Steichen, will feature husband and wife vocalists Elizabeth Southard and Gary Mauer from Bravo Broadway.
The couple can’t wait for the performance.
"We didn’t know we were kicking off the whole concert series," Mauer said during a conference call with The Park Record from New Jersey. "So, you’re telling us something we didn’t know and that’s exciting for us."
The program for the evening will be filled with patriotic songs from different sources, Mauer explained.
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"Patriotic songs are much like Broadway songs in that they all have special places in people’s hearts and they are very recognizable," he said. "Both styles are very theatrical and reach into the hearts and psyches in the American people very much the same way."
"Broadway, in its nature is purely an American style of music," Southard added. "I think these songs will blend well together."
Mauer and Southard will perform some country western, musical theater, old operetta, Gershwin, Irving Berlin and even some Frank Sinatra.
"I know that one of the things that Beth and I love to do together are songs from ‘Showboat,’ especially because we toured together in that show some years ago," Mauer said. "I was Gaylor Ravenal and she played the beautiful Magnolia Hawks."
The "Showboat" medley touches both the patriotic and Broadway elements of Saturday’s performance, Southard said.
"It’s a medley that comes from a musical-theater production, but the story is so Americana," she said. "It’s about the nucleus of a performing American family on the Mississippi River. We love singing it. It’s glorious."
Another standout piece will be Southard’s take on "He Plays the Violin’ from the Sherman Edwards’ musical "1776" and Mauer’s version of Sinatra’s "The House I Live In."
"The song is a patriotic tribute and I didn’t know that," Mauer said. "It’s fun to learn something you’ve never done before."
The symphony will also perform instrumental pieces such as " 76 Trombones" from "The Music Man," and as a tribute to the Armed Forces, Mauer will perform "Bring Him Home" from "Les Miserables." The evening will end with Lee Greenwood’s "God Bless the USA."
The challenge of performing a concert such as Patriotic Pops, is the short time to put it together, Mauer said.
"With very limited rehearsal time, it’s hard to give these songs the full respect they deserve," he explained. "Sometimes we will sing with a conductor who might not have a Broadway or pops feel, but Maestro Steichen is so good at doing this. And if the conductor and singers are on the same page, then the battle is won."
Mauer has performed with the Utah Symphony, but the show will mark Southard’s debut although she’s performed in Utah with other organizations
"We love Utah," Southard said. "We have friends who live out there locally. So I’m looking forward to working with the orchestra.
"Gary has done the summer concerts before and I just love that kind of venue as well," she said. "This program lends itself to this kind of place. It’s a lot less formal and more accessible for the audience. Then to perform with Maestro Steichen is the capper. I think it will be a load of fun."
Mauer loves working with the Utah Symphony.
"There are great orchestras and this orchestra is among the absolute very best in the country," he said. "I’ve sung with most, if not all, of the big orchestras and it’s such a pleasure to sing with the Utah Symphony. Put that together with coming to Utah, it’s a win-win situation."
Another perk for the musical couple is the opportunity to perform together.
"I think we’re very fortunate," Southard said. "We’ve done separate projects as well, but there is nothing like being up there with your significant other and sharing not only the beautiful music, but the whole experience with the audience.
"You can’t buy that," she said. "So, years and years of being together has been wonderful, not to mention the trust factor. We can take risks and not be afraid the other will let us fall."
"There is a mistrust factor as well," Mauer said with a laugh. "But, seriously, it’s so much fun to perform these great scenes. These love songs are just extraordinary and they soar even greater when you’re up there with someone you love dearly. It takes on a whole new level. "
The Utah Symphony will kick off its Deer Valley Music Festival with a Patriotic Pops program, featuring husband and wife vocalists Gary Mauer and Elizabeth Southard at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Friday, July 4, at 7:30 p.m. The performance will be conducted by Jerry Steichen. Tickets range from $10 to $88 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.deervalleymusicfestival.org.