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Performances that exceed expectations

Don’t you love it when you attend a performance that exceeds your expectations so completely that you can’t get it off your mind, one that you think about and talk about for days?

We had that experience not once, but twice last week.

On Sunday evening, we attended a private concert sponsored by our friends Leon and Karen Peterson, who are true champions and benefactors of young musical artists in Utah. We heard a stunning display of world-class musical talent, much of it from gifted teenagers who have had their early training in Utah and are now, in many cases, heading off to top music colleges such as Juilliard, Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory and Colburn School.

Aubree Oliverson, 17, a violinist we have followed since she was 10, was one of the talented musicians who performed that night. Aubree attends the prestigious Colburn Music Academy in Los Angeles, where she has been concertmaster of the Colburn Virtuosi Orchestra for the past two years. Aubree performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall at age 12 and is a three-time Salute to Youth winner. She has appeared five times on National Public Radio’s “From the Top” and was selected as a 2016 National YoungArts Foundation winner for violin performance.

When we hear Aubree play, she carries us away to a different place. Her fresh, natural exuberance combines with her technical and musical virtuosity to cast a spell over her audiences. Those of us who were in Abravanel Hall will never forget 13-year-old Aubree performing the entire Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major with the Utah Symphony despite having both nostrils plugged to stop a sudden nosebleed. She somehow pulled it off with aplomb and was rewarded with two standing ovations.

She will perform in Washington at the Kennedy Center later this month as a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Twenty Presidential Scholars in the Arts are chosen each year from millions of graduating high school seniors, and this year Aubree is one of only two musicians on the list.

Oh, and by the way, Aubree not only plays, she also composes. She has won multiple national composition awards and plays her original pieces on each of her six CD releases.

It’s a pity we don’t give more public attention to prodigious young artists such as Aubree. As a 12-year-old, she won a Best of State Award as an individual instrumentalist the same year that Jimmer Fredette won the same award for top male college athlete. Guess which got the most buzz.

Then on Wednesday, we went to Cavalia’s “Odysseo,” the horse/acrobat/music spectacular in the big-top tent at the Shops at South Town, which uses its enormous arena stage to showcase more than 50 gorgeous horses and as many scintillating human riders and acrobats.

If you love horses, you have to see this show, and if you are not a horse lover, you will become one at this performance. “Odysseo” is two and a half hours of high-energy yet magically peaceful entertainment that reminds us all of the beauty and power of physical bodies — human and equine.

The show is a wonderful combination of aesthetics and athletics. Is there anything more aesthetic than white stallions going at full gallop through water with riders standing on their backs, synchronized musically with trapeze acrobatics high above the stage? Is there anything more athletic than riders who can fling themselves underneath a horse that’s moving at full speed and come back up into the saddle on the other side?

Throw in a troop of a dozen uber-gymnasts from Guinea, Africa, whose gravity-defying flip routines provide the perfect counterpart to the grace and power of the white stallions, and you have a show that exceeds even its high expectations and draws sustained standing ovations.

We talked afterward to one of the performers, Lisa, a Russian who grew up in Australia and who performs as an acrobat but also trains horses and is a veterinarian. She told us the best part for her is working with such diversity of talent — performers from all over the world and horse breeds from around the globe. She also told us it will take 120 semitrailers to move the show to its next location in Portland (but not for a while, since the remarkable interest here in the valley has extended the Salt Lake run until at least June 13).

We are lucky to live in a community where our families can enjoy this level of talent and caliber of entertainment.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors and founders of who speak worldwide on family issues. Their new books are “The Half-Diet Diet” and “Life in Full.” See or eyrea