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Utah Symphony, KUED honor 5 national parks with documentary

On Monday, March 14, KUED audiences can celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial and explore all five of Utah’s national parks without even leaving the couch.

National Park Symphony — The Mighty Five” is a collaborative documentary that tours Zion, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands national parks. The film features music performed by the Utah Symphony and is narrated by the symphony's music director, Thierry Fischer.

The Utah Symphony presented its Mighty Five Tour in August 2014, performing concerts in outdoor venues near each of Utah's national parks.

“We wanted to pair art forms and reach a wider audience,” said documentary director Carol Dalrymple. “The (symphony) members loved interacting with the public in those beautiful places. It seemed like a really natural fit for the 100th anniversary.”

The opportunity to collaborate with KUED was an honor for Fischer as well, he said.

“When I first visited the national parks of Utah, the landscape filled a part of my soul that I didn’t even know was empty. And I’m from Switzerland!” Fischer said in an email. “To be able to pair beautiful music with the amazing world around us has been a dream.”

Dalrymple said that as a “beauty film,” the documentary aims to connect viewers to nature, giving them an intimate experience with different aspects of the parks that they may not have seen before.

“I applaud the Utah Symphony and KUED on this partnership,” Gov. Gary R. Herbert told the Utah Symphony. “Blending exceptional music, performed by the Utah Symphony, with cinematography of our state’s outstanding landscapes demonstrates the important relationship the arts and national parks play in our state’s ‘Life Elevated’ experience.”

While the symphony recorded a variety of music for the film from composers such as Beethoven, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Ravel, the filmmakers worked with nature to produce beautiful footage that fit with the music and told a story.

“You have the five parks, but you also have the weather — things that happen that you want to let be, like a lightning storm. We had to be there at different times to try and capture those unique moments. We weaved it into a storyline,” Dalrymple said. “Music has a certain feel that we had to work with, and then we think, ‘How can we share this experience?’ We hope that, overall, the arc of the story gave people a taste of being in the national parks.”

According to Dalrymple, the film, which is the first in the Year of the Parks trilogy planned to be released throughout the year, also sheds light on the balance between tourism and overuse in the national parks.

“It’s a real issue. Now that we have so many people coming to the national parks, especially in Utah, where we’re doubling our numbers, how do you preserve these special places?” Dalrymple said. “You hope that by highlighting that, people will want to protect it.”

The documentary will air on KUED on Monday, March 14, at 7 and 8:30 p.m.