By AMY WARD
The Utah Symphony opened its 1997-98 season with a spellbinding opera and symphonic poem last Friday and Saturday.
The concert was preceded by a swanky gala for prestigious members of the community, many of whom dotted the audience in tuxedos and velvet or sequined dresses.
The atmosphere under the dimmed chandeliers was elegant and relaxed as concert-goers were soothed by the rich tones and exquisite expression of acclaimed mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne.
Horne delighted the audience during the first half of the concert with her performance of Wagner’s “Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” and Mahler’s “Ruckert Lieder.” Especially touching was her plaintive rendition of the last section of Mahler’s piece, which is sometimes considered his finest symphonic song.
The symphony harmonized perfectly in the background. And the moment the final tones died out, the audience members were on their feet in an enthusiastic standing ovation.
The second half of the concert featured Strauss’ Symphonic poem, “A Hero’s Life.” It was made especially moving by Concertmaster Ralph Matson’s violin solo which deftly painted the moods of the hero’s lover.
Thrilled by the dramatic ending of the piece, an appreciative audience again stood for a standing ovation. Guest conductor Graeme Jenkins was called back onto stage three times.
Overall, the symphony’s performance foreshadows a spectacular upcoming season.
Not only will this season feature more guest conductors seeking to fill the position of symphony music director, but it will also include a variety of concerts for all ages and musical interests.
Aside from the Masterworks Series, which features favorite classical music, the orchestra will play a Chamber Series of classical pieces written for a smaller orchestra.
There will also be a Pop Series, which will feature jazz, Broadway hits and folk music with artists such as vocalists Ben Vereen and Cleo Laine, the Manhattan Rhythm Kings, and the Chieftains.
The Family Series will include a Halloween concert, the ever-popular Salute to Youth concert and the Repertory Dance Theatre.
There will even be three Saturday matinee concerts for children in the Youth Series entitled, “Tchaikovsky Discovers America,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and “Peter and the Wolf.”
Ticket information for all concerts is available either at Abravanel Hall’s ticket office or by calling 533-NOTE.