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The Utah Symphony will perform at or near all five of Utah's national parks during a weeklong tour in August.
The event, dubbed the "Mighty 5 Tour," is part of the orchestra's 75th-anniversary celebration and a lead-up to the 2016 centennial celebration of the National Park Service.
Music director Thierry Fischer will conduct the free performances, and popular Utah soprano Celena Shafer will be the soloist. Fischer said he chose shorter selections, such as Shostakovich's "Festive Overture," the Orchestral Suite from Bizet's "Carmen" and two movements from Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, because "we have to be flexible" in case of weather-related delays. There will be four concerts in Teasdale, near Capitol Reef National Park; at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, near Arches and Canyonlands; at Ruby's Inn, just outside Bryce Canyon; and in Springdale, at the entrance of Zion.
Fischer, an outdoor enthusiast, said the concerts are a way to "combine the different energies we are surrounded by. Nature creates sound, and sounds are nature."
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President and CEO Melia Tourangeau estimated the orchestra's costs "in the $600,000 range." The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation is the lead sponsor of the tour, with additional support from the Utah Legislature, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, O.C. Tanner, Zions Bank, Questar and Chevron.
Tourangeau said Love Communications President Tom Love floated the idea about a year ago, and planning began in earnest around September. The orchestra performs outdoors frequently in the summer, but with the exception of the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater just outside Zion National Park, there are no concert venues at the Mighty 5 tour stops. In what Tourangeau and US | UO Vice President and COO David Green called "an Olympic feat," the orchestra will take its stage setup from site to site. The musicians will play under an open-air canopy to maximize the audience's view of the scenery.
Jean Seiler, with Ruby's Inn just outside Bryce Canyon National Park, said the concert site on the canyon rim will offer similar views to those found within the park. Concerts will take place at sunset, so most audience members likely will not be able to see down into Bryce Canyon's famed hoodoos from their seats. They will, however, have stunning views to the east of the Escalante Mountains and Powell Point as the last rays of sun hit the formation.
"Just by coincidence, we had already leveled off land by the rim when the park was shut down by the government shutdown last fall," Seiler said. "We went after that and hauled a lot of gravel to make it safer and less muddy."
Tourangeau said the Teasdale and Moab venues can accommodate about 1,000 patrons each; the Ruby's Inn and Springdale sites can hold twice that many. There also will be a number of smaller concerts and related educational events in the parks themselves.
The tour was announced during a Tuesday news conference at Momentum Climbing Gym in East Millcreek, where Utah Symphony clarinetist Erin Svoboda, bassoonist Leon Chodos and oboist Lissa Stolz serenaded attendees as gym employees put on a climbing demonstration.
Concerts in the parks
The Utah Symphony will perform free concerts at Utah's five national parks in August.
Capitol Reef • Aug. 12, 8 p.m., Teasdale Community Park, Teasdale
Arches and Canyonlands • Aug. 14, 8 p.m., Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab
Bryce Canyon • Aug. 15, 8 p.m., Ruby's Bryce Canyon Rim at Ruby's Inn
Zion • Aug. 16, 8 p.m., O.C. Tanner Amphitheater, Springdale
In addition, there will be chamber concerts and educational events inside each park throughout the week. Details at utahsymphony.org/mighty5.