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Utah mountains ring with patriotic music

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UTAH SYMPHONY, conductor Kory Katseanes; "It's a Grand Ol' Flag," at Deer Valley, Saturday, July 1. Additional performance tonight at Snowbird at 7:30; tickets available at the gate.

The Utah Symphony's summer season kicked off with a rousing Independence Day concert that filled the mountains around Deer Valley with stirring patriotic music. As an added bonus, the barbershop Saltaires Show Chorus joined the orchestra in several selections, singing both a cappella and with orchestral accompaniment.

Under the direction of John Sasine, the Saltaires are a first-rate group. The members are strong and impressive, and they sing precisely and crisply with that full-bodied sound rich in overtones, which is what gives barbershop music its unique sound. Hearing them sing, you can understand why they've won so many competitions throughout the years.

The Saltaires opened their first set with a Stephen Foster medley and followed it up with the charming ballad "Just Like a Butterfly That's Caught in the Rain" and a lively rendition of "Swanee."

And together with the Utah Symphony, the Saltaires gave a top-notch performance of some of George M. Cohan's best-known show tunes.

The second half of the concert was as exciting as the first half. To start with, the Saltaires joined the orchestra for a stirring performance of John Williams' reflective "Hymn to the Fallen" from the film "Saving Private Ryan." Then both groups performed a musical tribute to all the branches of the armed forces. They then ended with a grandiose arrangement of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The Utah Symphony, under Kory Katseanes' baton, opened the concert with Aaron Copland's majestic "Fanfare for the Common Man." There were also a couple of pieces by Morton Gould: a jazzy reworking of "Yankee Doodle" and "American Salute," and a set of variations on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."

John Philip Sousa wasn't neglected, either — the orchestra played "Washington Post March," "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "El Capitan."

And finally, principal trombone Larry Zalkind dazzled the audience with his bravura performance of Arthur Pryor's virtuoso "Theme and Variations on Annie Laurie."

E-MAIL: ereichel@desnews.com