Equine-orchestral performance | ParkRecord.com

Equine-orchestral performance

Submitted by Tim Vitale

The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter in Park City and Utah State University (USU) will highlight their new partnership during a unique "equine-orchestral" performance Sept. 4 featuring magnificent stallions performing to music by the American Festival Orchestra composed by noted artist Kurt Bestor.

The event, called "Back in the Saddle," is actually the return of an old event, the highly popular Rhinestone Cowboy event of years past.

The cornerstone of the evening will be an equestrian show, put on by Sage Creek Equestrian in Heber, also featuring music by Bestor and the American Festival Orchestra conducted by Dr. Craig Jessop, , dean of the USU Caine College of the Arts. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Gray Barron Ranch in Park City.

Sage Creek Equestrian’s Donnette Hicks created the show, in which riders and horses will perform to live orchestral music. Hicks is the director and producer of the Wild West Show, a Broadway-quality production that is part of America’s largest Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

"Donnette has created a symphony of poetry intertwined with equine movement that will leave the audience touched, moved, and inspired," said Annette Herman Harder, executive director of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter.

Sage Creek Equestrian, a world-class equestrian facility located in Heber City, will also bring renowned trainer Jim Hicks to the performance with his magnificent Friesian stallion, Rembrandt. Also appearing will be the No. 1 Gypsy stallion in the nation, I’m The Lion’s Share.

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Bestor composed the music in consultation with Hicks and Jessop helped develop the scores for the performance. Bestor is well-known among Utah residents for his appealing musical style that touches film, commercial and live music. His annual Christmas performances are must-have holiday tickets. He brings with him a 20-piece orchestra.

Guests will be greeted by music performed by Utah State University students, including a String Quartet, Saxophone Quartet and a Jazz Trio. Dinner and dance music will be provided by The Joe Muscolino Band, featuring vocalists Nicole Madison of Park City and Gabe Redondo.

Jessop will serve as mpresario and master of ceremonies. He met with Hicks in the planning phases of the event and got to see some of the horses during an impromptu performance.

"These are powerful, beautiful animals, and I am excited to be part of this unique blending of animals and music," he said. "It will be a truly exceptional evening in a gorgeous setting."

Jessop and Bestor are longtime friends and have collaborated closely to great success. Jessop said he is pleased to work again with Bestor and also to bring him together with the talents of USU students and members of the orchestra.

"We are extremely pleased at the opportunity to showcase the talent in the Caine College of the Arts for our new friends in the Park City area," Jessop said. "It is an honor to be the ‘face’ in this case the musical face of Utah State University for this unique event."

Herman Harder said the event is a coming together of talented artists, horsemen and horses, all performing for a great cause. The funds will go to support the Swaner EcoCenter and Preserve.

She said the Swaner Preserve board is thrilled to bring back this great event, which has always been a tremendous success over the year. The organization is just becoming integrated into USU, and the "Back in the Saddle" evening will demonstrate what the exciting partnership can produce.

"I have seen some of the horses that Donnette plans to bring to the performance," she said. "They are a beautiful example of life and power. To see them performing with Mr. Bestor conducting the orchestra as their accompaniment will be thrilling."

The evening activities start with a Meet ‘n Mix ‘n Mingle at 5:30 p.m. at the Gray Barron Ranch in Park City. The equine-orchestral performance, called "A Symphony of Movement and Life," is next. Then a dinner provided by Culinary Crafts follows, along with dancing and other activities.

"Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter recently joined with Utah State University, and we thought it a good time to resurrect and enhance a much-loved party of the past," said Herman Harder. "This is our first joint special event, and we are excited with the way it will highlight many of the special components both organizations bring to the partnership."

The cost for the fundraiser is $200 per person. RSVP by Aug. 27 by calling (888) 653-6246 or emailing teri.rasmussen@usu.edu.