A Star-spangled night at Deer Valley | ParkRecord.com

A Star-spangled night at Deer Valley

Sitting outside under the stars listening to a world-class symphony perform an array of bright, flashy patriotic selections is the perfect way to kick off Independence Day weekend, said Utah Symphony Associate Conductor David Cho.

"This has been a tradition for Deer Valley for a long time." Cho said about the upcoming July 2 "Patriotic Celebration" concert at Deer Valley. "It means a lot to the Utah Symphony to be able to tour the state of Utah and come to places like Deer Valley.

"The Utah Symphony bears the name of the state and is a professional orchestra that works 52 weeks a year, as a full time group. It is important to represent our state, especially within our state."

The Deer Valley performance is one of the highlights for the Park City community, Cho said.

"It’s full of popular tunes from the classical world and the 1940s and 1950s big-band era," he said. "It’s filled with the tunes that people can recognize and hum to.

The performance also gives the musicians a chance to loosen up.

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"The people who come to see the Utah Symphony down at Abravanel Hall have filled their ears with repertoire from the great classics," he said. "So to put together a great program that represents all styles and genres of music is fun for us."

This year’s patriotic concert bookends with "The Star-Spangled Banner" and John Philip Sousa’s "Stars and Stripes Forever."

In between are similar works, such as Bizet’s "Carmen," Wagner’s "Lohengrin," John Williams’ "Raider’s March" and "Star Wars," that, while not particularly patriotic, fits the concept of heroism, Cho said.

"Even the Bizet’s Suite No. 1 from ‘Carmen’ has that quality," Cho said. "The character of Carmen is a heroic figure. and that theme continues in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders March’ from ‘Indiana Jones’ by John Williams.

"I remember getting goose bumps watching ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,’ when I was younger," Cho said.

"Also, while some of the music is not about America, per se, many people see America being a big melting pot, with people who have emigrated from other parts of the world," he said. "It’s fun to think that they are also represented by the composers of these pieces."

Still, there isn’t a lack of bona fide patriotic pieces, Cho said.

"The Armed Forces Salute," a medley which incorporates the melodies of the official songs from the Army ("The Caissons Song"), the Coast Guard ("Sempre Paratus"), the Marines ("Marine’s Hymn"), the U.S. Air Force ("Wild Blue Yonder") and the Navy ("Anchors Aweigh.").

"During the introduction, we ask those people in the audience and orchestra who are veterans or who are relatives of veterans to stand so we can recognize their contributions for our national security," Cho said. "We see tears in their eyes and we feel proud recognizing these heroes."

Another program highlight is called the "American Salute."

"It’s an arrangement of variations of ‘Johnny Comes Marching Home,’ which was a tune, I believe, from the Civil War," Cho explained. "It’s not only recognizable, but also has a big splash at the beginning and end that we always like to have in the ‘Patriotic Celebration.’"

The inclusion of Jeff Tyzik’s "The Great Westerns Suite" and Ralph Herman’s "Big Band Sounds," is another way to get nostalgic, as well as patriotic.

"We put some fun things together to give the audience a taste of the popular music of the time," Cho said. "It’s going to be a fun evening. We try to make it a little different each year, but I think we all come back to the fact that it has to have that patriotic music and fun and classical popular tunes."

This year marks Cho’s last season conducting the "Patriotic Celebration." After the season wraps, he will make a stop at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, before taking the music director position with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra.

"The Lubbock position starts in July 2012, so I have a good year to plan for the change," he said. "I am honored that I was able to spend five years with a great institution like the Utah Symphony | Opera. To be able to learn from the veterans, by that I don’t mean the armed forces veterans, but those who have been playing music in the business for a while, and the staff of the Utah Symphony in all departments, was a great experience for me.

"Maurice Abravanael took this orchestra around the world and it became the first orchestra to record the complete Mahler symphonies," Cho said. "I’ve made some great memories and I’ll cherish them as I conduct this program one last time."

The Utah Symphony will present its annual "Patriotic Celebration" at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheatre at Deer Valley on Saturday, July 2, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for lawn seating and $43 to $70 for reserved seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling (801) 355-ARTS, in person at the Abravanel Hall ticket office, or by visiting http://www.deervalleymusicfestival.org. Tickets may also be purchased at Deer Valley Signature’s stores, please call (800) 833-2002 for hours.