Rei Hotoda ready for her Utah Symphony debut |

Rei Hotoda ready for her Utah Symphony debut

Scott Iwasaki

Although the Deer Valley Music Festival officially kicks off with a Patriotic Pops celebration concert at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater tonight, some concerts on the festival schedule are specifically tailored for more traditional classical-music audiences.

These are the chamber concerts presented in the more intimate settings of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Temple Har Shalom.

The first of these will be held Wednesday, July 8, at the church and will include the debut of the Utah Symphony’s Associate Conductor Rei Hotoda.

The program will feature Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 and Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony, known as the "Scottish Symphony."

Hotoda will take on double duty with the Mozart, She will not only conduct, but play the piano.

"Usually you have a soloist and a conductor, but with this performance, I’ll be putting together all my backgrounds together," Hotoda told The Park Record.

Hotoda, who was born in Tokyo, Japan, but raised in Chicago, Illinois, has a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Southern California Los Angeles, and studied conducting the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

"After I finished school, I had my first major audition and started my professional career with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra," she said. "It was great and I performed 30 concerts in my first year."

She was with the orchestra until 2006, when she became the assistant conductor for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 2009 to 2012.

"Since then, I’ve been guest conducting various orchestras across the country — including the Colorado Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony and the Toronto Symphony up in Canada," Hotoda said. "I was also just in Jacksonville, Florida, with their orchestra."

While Hotoda enjoys guest conducting, she wants to settle down in Utah.

"I’m meeting with the staff here to learn about what works in this community and what would be good ideas I can bring to the table," she said. "I want to share my excitement with them. To work with a great organization like the Utah Symphony is a wonderful opportunity for me.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Maestro Thierry Fischer (Utah Symphony’s music director)," Hotoda said. "He’s already been warm and receptive. I’m looking forward to developing a musical relationship with him and glean as much as I can from him."

Hotoda still considers herself a student when it comes to her career.

"That is the ultimate musical experience or me," she said. "Going from my studies in piano performance into conducting was challenging. It was like learning a new instrument, but I learned very quickly."

One she noticed once she became a conductor not being able to practice by herself.

"It’s not like the piano, because the instrument you work with as a conductor is a 75-piece orchestra," Hotoda said. "Conductors really learn while they are on the podium and that’s the exciting part. They learn as they experience the process. They also learn about themselves as they grow as conductors when the lead all of these great pieces of repertoire. It’s like a pilot. The more hours you fly, the better you get."

One of the biggest challenges of conducting is having to hear everything at once.

"You need to hear mistakes and know what to fix, but you also need to know the works well enough to predict what could potentially to happen," Hotoda said. "So you’re in the present and the future at the same time, and that’s an exciting musical world to be in."

The next challenge is managing the little time allotted when working with orchestras.

"You first have to gain the respect of the musicians, so you have to be really skilled at what you do," Hotoda explained. "If you’re not, the musicians can see that right away.

"From there, you have to get them on board with your musical ideas," she said. "It’s all a matter of complete conviction over the music you’re about to share with them, because violinists will only see their parts. Cellists will only see theirs. So you have to get every part together. When you do that, it’s such a rewarding experience."

Hotoda doesn’t have a favorite composer, because she loves conducting all types of work.

"I love passionate music, though," she said. "Whether that’s finding the passion in a Mozart symphony or the finding the outwardly romantic composers of Beethoven, it’s all about pulling it out there."

Deer Valley Music Festival chamber concerts schedule

All performances will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Rd., at 8 p.m.


  • 8 — Mozart & Mendelssohn, pianist Rei Hotoda conducting, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12, Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony.
  • 22 Muir String Quartet, Dvorák’s Cypresses, Joan Tower’s Bassoon Quartet (with Kathleen Reynolds), and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14.
  • 28 Semiosis & Denovo String Quartets, world premieres by composers Daniel Castellanos and Douglas Friedman.
  • 29 Bach & Vivaldi, Handel and Haydn Society concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky directing, J.S. Bach’s the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Suite No. 1, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.


  • 5 Mendelssohn, Bruch & Haydn, conductor Vladimir Kulenovic and violinist Stefan Milenkovich, Bruch’s first violin concerto, Haydn’s final symphony (No. 104), Mendelssohn’s overture inspired by Fingal’s Cave in Scotland, "The Hebrides."

    The Deer Valley Music Festival will present a chamber concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Dr., on Wednesday, July 8, at 8 p.m. The concert will feature the symphony’s associate conductor Rei Hotoda. Tickets are $10 and $34 and can be purchased by visiting