COLLECTIVELY, we've found ourselves airing on the classical side of our sweet city in recent months. For this, we can largely thank Crystal Young-Otterstrom and her founding efforts for a new brand of social delights. VIVACE is defined as "a group of people who encapsulate the taste and boldness of live classical music and enjoy special social benefits with their Utah Symphony/Utah Opera experience." Crystal is the driving force behind getting a younger generation to take interest in what the symphony has to offer. To that end, she met us with open arms, symphony tickets, and Vivace after-party passes. Best part: a few weeks back, three of the ridiculously-talented members of Utah Symphony came to give us private chamber performance in the COLLECTIVE lounge. We sat quietly with our client pals while they went wood-wild with the bassoon, the clarinet, and the oboe [can you say, 'transcendent'?]. Yeah, you should become a client.
The Utah Symphony/Opera experience is like no other. We're damn lucky to have world-class talent like this at our fingertips [seriously, just order up tickets online and get edified]. Vivace comes with its own set of perks, however, making for a brilliant night out. Members of Vivace are well treated, to say the least--discounted tickets, complete with a set of lively program notes, tailored specifically for members. For our part, we were thrilled to get dolled-up all classy-like and head to Abravanel Hall for a mind-blowing performance. Think: the dark intensity of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15 paired perfectly with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Following the [incredible] performance, we were treated to the Vivace after-party at the likes of Cafe Molise. This is where Crystal's efforts take on a life of their own. Wining, dining, and mingling were the orders of the night, and we were able to chat with symphony members. It's a set of wins that every member of Vivace gets to experience, and it makes for a happy night out. We had a chat with Crystal for a touch of symphonic Q&A. You might be surprised...
Visit the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera website for tickets or information regarding upcoming events.
I'm all about Top 40…so the symphony will probably bore me, right? Never! The great composer/conductor, Gustav Mahler, said that "a Symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” Classical music gets to the core of emotion. It’s about love, life, sorrow, loss, joy, grief, etc. Even sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. For reals! The list of pieces describing orgies in music is huge...I’m not even joking! When you’re there, try to picture what the music is telling you or describing. What kind of emotions you think it’s saying. How the different melodies and instruments relate to each other. Think about how the 90-ish musicians on stage practice some 6+ hours a day ALONE on top of rehearsals to keep up their musical chops. These guys are rock stars in my book.
Describe an evening at the symphony for us. Spending 90 minutes of your day listening to 90+ musicians perform some of the world’s greatest music ever written. Some people say it’s relaxing, some people say it’s like a sporting event, in terms of the adrenaline and training involved. It might be emotional. And sure, sometimes it’s boring. I’m not going to lie and say that all classical music ever written and programmed on a concert is always ingenious. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes one person will love it and another person will hate that particular piece of music. But it’s all one amazing experience that everyone should check out regularly.
Are there any special rules? An unspoken conduct we should know about? Yes, there are traditions. Do you have to follow them all? Hell to the no! Some of them are just common sense. You don’t want to make a ton of noise, talking to your friends or answering the phone. Otherwise, what are you paying for? Other rules: people clap when the concertmaster comes out (first-chair violin, basically). It’s also tradition not to clap between movements of a single piece…but really, it’s not the end of the world if you do. Indeed, the REAL tradition is that audience members did clap between movements, especially if it was something they really responded to. It was not that unheard of 100 to 150 years ago for a movement to be repeated at that moment again as an encore. Or even for the soloist to play some random piece in the middle as their own encore. It’s all been done. As far as concert etiquette? Here's my Vivace-ized description: 1) Relax. Classical Music doesn’t bite. 2) Post a #symphonyselfie of yourself and tag #Vivace! Selfies are totes cool when they’re taken at Abravanel Hall. 3) Don’t clap between movements. Because our orchestra rocks, you’ll be tempted. Persevere. Clap when the concertmaster (the person with the violin) and the conductor (the person with the baton) come on stage. 4) If you carry ANYTHING that beeps, glows, emits light, vibrates, or bursts spontaneously into your favorite tune (wrist alarm, cell phone, tablet, eReader, watch, or a long-lived Giga Pet), TURN IT OFF!
What's the best part about going to the symphony? The emotion I think. Really getting into the music and letting it speak to you. Music is power. It gets right to your soul.
Tell us a little about the stellar musicians--are they locals? How does one become a symphony player? Like I said before, these guys are spending some 6+ hours practicing their instrument. AND going to rehearsals for the full orchestra. They’ve been doing this for years and years, some starting as young as 2 or 3 years old. Typically our musicians aren’t locals. They’re all full time professionals and we pay them a great salary, because they work for it. Most of them are conservatory trained (or its equivalent). They actually have to audition for and WIN their position. It’s like a competition. While auditioning, they perform behind a curtain so the judges do not know who is performing. It keeps the process completely blind and puts the players' individual skill ahead of relationships, popularity, race, gender, etc. After winning the audition, the Music Director (a.k.a. our Maestro) then has the option of offering the winning candidate either a position or trial period on the orchestra. The Maestro also has the option of not offering a position to the audition winner, in which case the process has to start over. Typically after a trial period of a week (sometimes it can last for a season or more), the Maestro then officially offers the individual the position. After a few seasons, the musician can apply for tenure which is quite similar to tenure for teachers at universities. And our musicians aren’t just music nerds! They have such varied interests. They don’t listen to classical music all the time. We have some hard core skiers, lots of different sports enthusiasts, mechanics, whatever, you name it. They’re crazy cool. If you follow “Musicians of Utah Symphony,” you can learn more about them as individuals. We also often have musician profiles in our bios. One thing a lot of people don’t know is that the musicians also manage their own union! This has helped orchestra members across the country so that they are making real, living wages for their art form, rather than being told that the “art is enough”…or that they should eat air instead of food.
Anything else you'd like to convey to the masses about Vivace or the symphony? Just try it out. And come more than once. I like to say that experiencing the Symphony as part of a Vivace evening is classical music with its hair down. Sitting by other Vivace members is nice because nobody is going to judge you for clapping in the wrong place. Plus it’s more fun in numbers right? And lastly, the organization isn't just a symphony! We are also Utah Opera...all one big family. Opera is an entirely separate conversation, but think of it as passion, passion, passion, times one hundred bajillion. Roughly. You’ve got to check it out. Vivace is going May 9th to Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.