Utah Symphony honors JFK | ParkRecord.com

Utah Symphony honors JFK

Submitted by the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera
Actor Edward Herrmann will narrate the Utah Symphony's performance of "Remembering JFK" on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of the Utah Symphony)

The Utah Symphony commemorates the legacy of an American icon, by performing music that was written about John F. Kennedy and captures the spirit of his presidency on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in 1963.

Special guest narrator, Edward Herrmann, known for his work in "Law & Order", "Gilmore Girls" and "The Practice," joins Maestro Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, to pay homage to an American legacy and the 50th anniversary of a tragic event.

Works by Benjamin Britten bookend the concert repertoire, which showcases elegies written for the late president by Igor Stravinsky and Peter Lieberson. Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, "The Inextinguishable," also makes an appearance on the program.

Stravinsky wrote brief memorial works throughout his life but by the late 1950s and early 1960s, he had reached an age when they were becoming a far too regular necessity.

Stravinsky had been an acquaintance of President John F. Kennedy and was shocked by the news of the assassination. He later told the New York Times: "The idea [for the Elegy] came to me in mid-January 1964. I felt that the events of November were being too quickly forgotten and I wished to protest."

Stravinsky’s "Elegy for JFK" comprises four haikus written by W.H. Auden about JFK, and each syllable of the haiku is a note. The work is also just for mezzo-soprano and three clarinets.

The Lieberson piece, "Remembering JFK," is the newest work being performed at this concert. It has a modern, "American" sound, but has tonality and narration from some of JFK’s speeches. Lieberson was commissioned in 2010 to compose a commemorative work for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Inauguration the following January.

Intent on a work consisting of woven narration and orchestral color, Lieberson began to read through the collected speeches of JFK and, as quoted in Thomas May’s note for the National Symphony premiere, stated that he was "astonished that so much of what [Kennedy] said carried presentiments of what we need today."

The Nielsen symphony the oldest piece of music in this concert at 97 years old stretches this tension of unbridled energy. Nielsen wanted to present music as something equal to man, not just an emotional expression. He believed that music is its own universal force. From the fourth we get Nielsen’s quote "Music is life, and, like it, inextinguishable."

Related events

  • In their fifth year of collaboration, the Utah Symphony and The Road Home are holding a benefit and clothing drive on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, in the lobby of Abravanel Hall prior to both evening concerts.

    The Road Home will be collecting cash donations, with a $15,000 matching grant in place from Chevron. In addition, the group welcomes donations of warm clothes, blankets, ski jackets, mittens, boots, hats and scarves.

    Those bringing a donation will receive "Utah Symphony bucks" that can be used to purchase tickets to future performances. The Road Home is a private non-profit social services agency that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County and along the Wasatch Front.

    For more information, visit http://www.theroadhome.org .

  • Music Director Thierry Fischer and Vice President of Artistic Planning Toby Tolokan will present a free pre-concert chat each night, one hour prior to the start of the performance on the orchestra level of Abravanel Hall.

    They will be joined by local Nielsen scholar Mogens Mogensen, who has written about Nielsen’s life in five published volumes, and has commissioned paintings inspired by each of Nielsen’s symphonies (which will also be on display).

  • This performance marks another post-concert reunion of Vivace, a group of 20 50-somethings who enjoy the social aspect associated with the symphony and opera.

    Vivace members sit together at the performances, receive a unique version of the program notes, and attend after-parties at area restaurants as well as on site at Abravanel Hall where they mingle with the best and brightest of Salt Lake City, guest artists, members of the Utah Symphony, and casts of Utah Opera. Call 801-533-NOTE (6683) to order.

    Single tickets for the public start at $18 and can be purchased by phone at (801) 355-2787 , in person at the Abravanel Hall ticket office, 123 W. South Temple, or online by visiting http://www.utahsymphony.org . Youth and patrons 30 or younger can purchase $10 tickets for this performance through the USUO Upbeat program. Season subscribers can purchase discounted tickets by contacting (801) 533-6683 . Those desiring group discounts should call (801) 869-9046 . All ticket prices are subject to change and availability, and will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance.

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