Members of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra soon return from their summer break to begin rehearsals for a full concert season — the symphony’s 35th anniversary.
When I think of anniversaries, I think of new beginnings, and this causes me to consider what the late Irene Everett, Norman Fawson, and Ron Garner envisioned 35 years ago when they began the Southwest Symphony Orchestra. The future of music in this area must have spread like a picture before them, and they thought: There really is an audience here for classical music, and it’s everywhere Southern Utah patrons want to be.
I heard someone say that a community’s love of music reflects a community’s love of itself, and if that is a true standard, then we’re headed in the right direction. I am reminded of something Joseph Silverstein (violinist, conductor and former music director of the Utah Symphony from 1983-1998) said: “There is a wonderful audience in the Salt Lake Valley for serious classical music. There really is an audience here, and they have to be taken care of.”
The same may be said about this area: “There is a wonderful audience in Southern Utah for serious classical music, and they need to be taken care of.”
Maestro Gary Caldwell and the symphony musicians have taken that vision to heart; not only are they passionate about the music they play, but they love the audiences for whom they play.
Caldwell recently announced the theme and lineup for the upcoming concert season — “National Treasures: Music, Monuments, and Marvels.”
A Symphonic Salute to the Flagraisers at Iwo Jima”: Composed by the celebratedChris Brubeck and narrated by well-known actor Wilford Brimley, this monumental work reflects the distinguished dignity of our country’s brave veterans from World War II and other military conflicts who have defended our nation. They are the quiet heroes. (Nov. 20)
The annual “Messiah” production remains one of Southern Utah’s most beloved holiday events. This unparalleled work has inspired and lifted audiences since 1742, when the work premiered at a charity concert in Dublin. The “Messiah” Chorale, which includes members of community choral groups and Lieto Voices!, combines with the symphony to present such selections as “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and the venerated “Hallelujah.” Free admission. (Dec. 6 and 7)
Centennial Celebrations “Canyons Concerto”
International performing artist and educator Lynn Vartan is featured in this four-movement percussion composition by Keith Bradshaw. This work commemorates the centennial of the National Park Service and highlights the treasures of the area’s prodigious parks. (Feb. 26, 2016)
Youth Concerto Classic
This event continues the tradition of showcasing first-rate young musicians from the Southern Utah area whose talents enchant and delight. These dedicated prodigies demonstrate music education at its finest, so prepare to be dazzled by their artistry. (Apr. 8, 2016)
A Treasure Chest of Pops
The Southwest Symphony Orchestra ends the season in style with a festival of favorite classical pops and other splendid treasures. (May 13, 2016)
It’s exciting to think about a 35th anniversary celebration that lasts all season long and all the musical gems to be unveiled to commemorate more than a generation’s worth of masterpieces. From rehearsals to performances, the members of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra this year promise prized packages of captivating delights to all patrons. What a momentous and meaningful year it will be with plenty of sheen and sparkle.
For information about season subscriptions and individual performances, please contact the Dixie State University Box Office at 435-652-7800 or visit the central ticketing office at 360 S. University Avenue in St. George. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in the Cox Performing Arts Center on the campus of Dixie State University. For information, visit southwestsymphony.co.
JJ Abernathy is an arts advocate and educator. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.