Utah Symphony aims to bring music to all listeners

May 23, 2024, 5:00 PM

Maurice Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah....

Signs outside of Abravanel Hall advertise two of the Utah Symphony's concert series on May 23, 2024. (Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

(Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Symphony Utah Opera performs for more than 400,000 people each year. The group works to provide music for all listeners. 

“We try really hard to make sure that because we serve our whole state we have something for everybody no matter what kind of music you love,” said Meredith Kimball Laing, the vice president of marketing & communications for the Utah Symphony. 

Over the course of a season, the Utah Symphony performs a blend of music, mixing traditional orchestral repertoire with movie hits and popular songs. 

Kimball Laing said that during this summer’s Deer Valley Music Festival, the symphony will perform with Leslie Odom Jr., a musician and actor well known for his role in “Hamilton.”

Additionally, the symphony will play the hits of singer Whitney Houston. 

Throughout the season, the Utah Symphony presents concerts where they accompany movies as they are projected onto a screen. For example, the symphony will play the music of Jurassic Park in September, according to the USUO website. 

This season, Kimball Laing said the symphony introduced a new, educational concert type to its Masterworks series. 

“For select Masterworks concerts [we] will have a kind of build a theme around the concert night. And [we’ll] have activities in the lobby that connect in some way to the music on stage,” said Kimball Laing. “We work to be sure that we are introducing the music to people in a way that … makes them feel more familiar with it.” 

Most recently, Kimball Laing said that the orchestra built a theme around composer Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. The theme of the concert was a masquerade. Visitors were invited to design their own masks. 

Then, during the shows, the symphony had a speaker introduce the music. During a traditional orchestra concert, pieces are not normally introduced. 

Kimball Laing said the Utah Symphony plans to bring the shows back next season. 

“Whatever is appealing, whatever feels, you know, entertaining and exciting and like a great night out at the symphony to you is great for us,” said Kimball Laing. 

Utah Symphony does more than perform

The symphony does not only perform concerts. Kimball Laing said that outreach programs aimed to engage kids in music are at the core of its work. 

“We serve our entire state with music education. That includes the full spectrum of students from elementary school through college and beyond,” said Kimball Laing. 

Sometimes, the symphony performs for students. 

“The orchestra and our opera resident artists travel all over the state to perform in schools,” Kimball Laing said. 

Other times, students are invited into Abravanel Hall to play with the Utah Symphony. The opportunities allow young musicians an opportunity to interact directly with symphony musicians. 

Kimball Laing referred to those opportunities as “side-by-side concerts.” 

Access to Music invites children with special needs to experience the symphony with their families. The concert is specifically designed for those with special needs. 

“It’s an environment where you can move around the concert hall. You can feel free to vocalize. There are no rules or regulations of that concert,” said Kimball Laing. She added that it is one of the Utah Symphony’s favorite presentations each year. 

Support Abravanel by supporting the symphony

Kimball Laing said that while recent support of renovating Abravanel Hall is uplifting, she wants the public to remember that the artists make the space what it is. 

“It’s important to recognize that while Abravanel Hall is such a historical landmark … and it’s such an incredible space, what truly makes [it] special is the artists that perform here. [And] the performances that take place here,” said Kimball Laing. 

She said that people can continue supporting the symphony by attending concerts or donating. 

Related: Public comments heard at council meeting after Abravanel Hall master plan released

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