Utah Symphony hits a high note for young audience
Some students were decked out in their Sunday best as they filed into the Eccles Center for a Utah Symphony Concert. The audience of young fans was made up of students from Park City School District, North Summit School District, and high schools in Wasatch and Duchesne Counties.
Director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, Teri Orr, explained to students the Utah Symphony is one of 17 full-time professional orchestras left in the country and said their music is "remarkable."
The performance began with Ludwig van Beethoven’s "Symphony Number 4," opus 60, followed by Edvard Grieg’s "Holberg Suite," opus 40, which featured strings.
The symphony added a new instrument with each selection they played, introducing strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion pieces.
Utah Symphony Associate Conductor Scott O’Neil spoke to students before each piece was played and told them about each new instrument that was brought on stage.
A flute was added for Johann Sebastian Bach’s "Orchestral Suite Number 2 in B Minor." A clarinet and an oboe were featured in Maurice Ravel’s "Le Tombeau de Couperin."
With Camille Saint-Saens’ piece titled, "The Carnival of the Animals," a French horn was added and mimicked the sound from an elephant’s trunk so convincingly it elicited murmurs of awe from audience members.
Trumpets and horns came into play for George Friderich Handel’s "Water Music Suite."
O’Neil explained to students that it may not sound like water but the piece was played on a floating barge when Handel wrote it because he wanted to make the music more accessible to the masses. Traditionally only aristocrats could attend performances, and by moving it to the water anyone could listen.
The performance concluded with Felix Mendelssohn’s "Symphony Number 4," opus 90 that included the use of timpani.
Beverly Hawkins, educational activities coordinator for the Utah Symphony and Opera said outreach programs such as this one are important to a child’s development.
This sentiment echoes Elliott W. Eisner, author of "Three R’s are Essential, but Don’t Forget the A the Arts." Earlier this year the Los Angeles Times printed excerpts from his book where he reflected on the impact of art in children’s lives.
"First, the arts teach children to exercise that most exquisite of capacities, the ability to make judgments in the absence of rules," Eisner wrote.
Hawkins also said that bringing the symphony to students gives them the opportunity to learn about what musical options are available. It may also cultivate art patrons.
"We obviously hope they will become lovers of classical music," she said.
coming to these performances students also hone their listening skills as they try to hear variations in rhythm and specific instruments in the orchestra, Hawkins said.
She added that the Utah Symphony performs 40 to 50 school concerts per year, more than any other professional orchestra. This is partly due to a grant through the Utah State Legislature and their membership in Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.