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The Utah Symphony has appointed Jerry Steichen as principal pops conductor.
Steichen is already a perennial podium presence in Salt Lake City, Park City and Logan. He has conducted Deer Valley Music Festival productions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas every summer of the festival's existence, and has led a pair of mainstage Utah Opera productions. He also has led the Utah Symphony in numerous pops concerts and has had a long-running association with Logan's Utah Festival Opera.
"I love coming to Utah," Stei -chen said Friday by phone from Orlando, Fla., where he was preparing to accompany soprano Monica Yunus in a recital. "I'm thrilled that I get to work with the musicians. The orchestra is so wonderful; we've had a great relationship. I also look forward to being a real part of the community in Salt Lake City. I will be out there for more than just my concerts."
The position is new for the orchestra. "With Keith Lockhart as music director, you don't need a [designated] pops conductor," said Jeff Bram, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera's vice president of artistic operations. When Lockhart announced the current season would be his last, Bram said, "I got to thinking -- not only would the masterworks series be without a face and leader, pops would too."
Bram said he had been looking for a way to give Steichen "a more heightened role" for a while. "Audiences like him, the orchestra responds well to him and he undoubtedly knows the repertoire incredibly well."
Steichen will conduct four of the Utah Symphony's five pops concerts next season. The length of his tenure here is "undetermined at this point," Bram said. "We've agreed in principle; the handshake is done -- we just have to work out the terms."
"As long as we're both happy, I'll keep doing it," Steichen said. "I'm there as long as they'll have me."
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera welcomed back another new face recently. Leslie Peterson, who served in multiple positions at Utah Opera from 1980 to 2002, returned as vice president of development. "I'm very excited to be back," she said.