“This music is for everyone,” says Utah Symphony Conductor

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World-class art at student’s fingertips

With their hopes and dreams on the line, juggling the many responsibilities of adulthood and student life can leave a student feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. But with world-class art at their fingertips in the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, the decision to pause and be transformed by magnificent works of art is now easier than ever.

The inaugural season of the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts featured the debut of the Utah Symphony in what the orchestra is calling its new Utah-valley home. So the Review sat down with Conner Grey Covington, Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony and Principal Conductor of the Deer Valley Music Festival, to talk about his work with the orchestra and their move to reach more people.

Conner Grey Covington

An internationally-renowned conductor who boasts an impressive bio, including two years of training with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a five week stint with the Vienna Orchestra – it carries some weight when Covington says the Utah Symphony sounds consistently “better than a lot of other bigger orchestras.”

“People in other parts of the country don’t realize how good the symphony is and has gotten over the last several years,” said Covington. “…we are really lucky in this state to have an orchestra of this caliber.”

Music for everyone

According to Covington, it’s no accident that the orchestra is called the Utah Symphony and not after the city where it is based.

“a lot of orchestras are the New York Philharmonic, or the Philadelphia orchestra, or the  Cleveland orchestra, and those are those cities, but we are the Utah Symphony and we really view it was a big part of our mission to serve the entire state.”

Where Utah’s legislature, leaders, and philanthropists place a high value on the arts, growing initiatives to reach more diverse audiences statewide are gaining momentum.  But geographic proximity is not the only barrier that The Utah Symphony is striving to overcome.

The mission of musicians

Audience at the Utah Symphony performance at UVU’s Noorda Center. Photo courtesy of Utah Symphony.

Preconceived notions about what an orchestra is, how to dress, and when to clap are among some of what makes people “hesitant to come to the symphony,” said Covington.  “It really doesn’t matter…I love when people clap between movements. There are so many movements of big symphonies where it ends big and exciting and then no one claps, and it’s awkward.”

In fact, that tradition didn’t even start until the early 20th century and back in the days of Mozart, Hayden, and Brahms – people clapped, he said. A recent episode of the Ghost Light podcast, produced by Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, discusses these “popular myths that often keep potential symphony or opera patrons from coming to a performance,”

“I think our job as musicians and as an organization is to help people realize that this music is for everyone. And I can guarantee that there is so much music that we play that will speak to everyone,” said Covington.

The Utah Symphony will next perform at the Noorda Center on Thursday, January 9th a show, titled “Isabel Leonard sings Mozart at the Noorda” Design-a-Series, and all access passes at discounted student rates can be purchased at  https://utahsymphony.org/tickets/student-tickets/.