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Marie Osmond, Kristin Chenoweth, BYU’s Kalani Sitake celebrate Utah Symphony’s 80th birthday

‘The show must absolutely go on. Nothing will ever replace live music,’ music director Thierry Fischer said from his home in Geneva, Switzerland. ‘Every single concert is a miracle.’

SHARE Marie Osmond, Kristin Chenoweth, BYU’s Kalani Sitake celebrate Utah Symphony’s 80th birthday
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Thierry Fischer, music director of the Utah Symphony, conducts during a practice session at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. The symphony recently celebrated its 80th birthday.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Symphony just turned 80, and to celebrate, the organization recently threw a big online bash

The party is available to watch on YouTube and Facebook.

Here are five highlights from the celebration, which included guest appearances from Marie Osmond, Kristin Chenoweth and BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake

The 4 Tads

Tad Calcara has become a one-man band amid the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to perform with his fellow musicians, the Utah Symphony’s principal clarinetist has taken it upon himself to play the different parts to classic swing tunes. Calcara’s latest video featuring the “4 Tads” dropped during the symphony’s birthday bash.

Calcara performed the Al Dubin/Harry Warren song “Lulu’s Back in Town.” In the video, the musician sings in three-part harmony, plays the clarinet — three different parts — the cornet, piano and drums. 

Special guest appearances

  • Gail Miller

Before the birthday bash began, Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller shared her appreciation for the Utah Symphony — a love that began when she saw the symphony for the first time in the fifth grade. 

“I was impacted by music at that time. I know the music that you produce touches lives and makes lives better clear across the world,” Miller said. “I really feel like I’ve had a 60 year relationship with the symphony — I hate to say that — but I have.” 

  • Kalani Sitake

Representing the BYU football team, Kalani Sitake said, “We want to express our gratitude and appreciation for everything that you do.” 

  • Marie Osmond

Marie Osmond appeared with the Utah Symphony for the Deer Valley Music Festival last summer, and the singer dropped in to offer her congratulations.

“I heard it’s your 80th birthday, and I wanted to wish you all the best for the years to come,” she said. “Just keep doing what you’re doing, because frankly, 80 looks really good on you. Happy Birthday.” 

  • Kristin Chenoweth

Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, who appeared with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in 2018 and the Utah Symphony in 2019, also stopped by to celebrate eight decades of the Utah Symphony.

“I am just wanting to wish the Utah Symphony a happy 80th birthday. That’s right, you guys are 80,” she said. “You’re still looking good. Thank you for all the music over the years. I love you.” 

Beethoven on the Bonneville Salt Flats

December marks the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven — something the Utah Symphony has been celebrating all season long. Even amid the pandemic, the musicians continued that celebration with a special filmed performance of the second movement from Beethoven Symphony No. 7.

The video shows Thierry Fischer conducting the piece from Switzerland’s Geneva Lake, several dressed-up musicians performing throughout the Salt Lake Valley, and six musicians performing out on the Bonneville Salt Flats. 

A performance from Abravanel Hall

The symphony’s birthday bash also featured the first performance in Abravanel Hall since the venue shut down in March.

The symphony’s concertmaster, Madeline Adkins, performed “Meditation” from the opera “Thais” — a production that was originally scheduled to close out Utah Opera’s 2019-20 season. 

Adkins was accompanied by Jason Hardink, the Utah Symphony’s principal keyboardist. 

‘Every single concert is a miracle’

From his home in Geneva, Switzerland, Fischer shared a message about the Utah Symphony and the power of live music.

“The show must absolutely go on. Nothing will ever replace live music. Every single concert is a miracle,” said Fischer, who then went on to imagine the first time the full orchestra will be able to reunite at Abravanel Hall. “I think we will all realize after five seconds, what the miracle of music is bringing to us.”

The symphony canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season — including this summer’s Deer Valley Music Festival. As of now, no full orchestra performances are scheduled until September.

The Utah Symphony is accepting donations here: https://bit.ly/361gyPQ