Holiday Concert and Other Prep


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Which is to say that the Symphony has begun rehearsals in earnest on Handel’s Messiah. I went in to rehearsal last Wednesday bemoaning the warm November weather, and I came out full of holiday cheer. Hearing this extraordinary piece of music is truly a hallmark of the holiday season for me. I hope to write one more post between now and the performance (December 2) to give a bit more insight into Handel’s life and the period when he wrote this masterpiece.

In the meantime, I’ve dedicated one paragraph to give interested parties a peek into what else we are excited about: besides rehearsing the Messiah to get it ready to perform, we have been working for several weeks on what we are expecting to be the highlights of the season in the spring. I have briefly mentioned before the Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony – this intensely difficult piece is considered by many to be Tchaikovsky’s most ambitious and emotional work. We have also already started to tackle on the other most challenging orchestral work, this one to be performed at the end of April: Beethoven’s famous “Eroica” symphony #3. We hope you are gearing up for these concerts alongside us and getting excited to enjoy some beautiful music!

Gala Event!

The Symphony Gala took place on Saturday, November 4. A spectacular event and auction to raise funds, the event was a grand success. Attendees would agree that the gala set out to strike a new tone with the Symphony’s brand, and it did so with marvelous aplomb. Take a look at a few pictures of the evening’s events here.

Spooktacular Preview!

This is it!

The Symphony will be performing their Halloween Spooktacular this Friday at 7:30 PM. This event is so jam-packed full of special surprises that I’m not even sure what they all are.

The program is hugely varied, and also hugely entertaining. One highlight of the show is sure to be the two excellent vocal soloists that will be joining the symphony to perform selections from Phantom of the Opera. It’s a great chance to see this Halloween mainstay performed by top notch local talent.

Beyond this, there is definitely something for everyone in the program. Kids will enjoy the selections from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, and a medley from the wizarding world of Harry Potter, taken from the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Long-time classical music enthusiasts will also enjoy some of the “deeper tracks” on the program, including Bartok’s Four Transylvanian Dances, and Gliere’s Russian Sailor’s Dance.

However I am most excited about the part of the program that includes those classical pieces that are enjoyable for both children and adults, those that most of us grown-ups are familiar with, but for the younger audience will be first-time listens that will stick with them forever. Funeral March for a Marionette, Grieg’s March of the Trolls, and Brahms’ Hungarian Dance.

We hope to see you there! Bring your kids for an unforgettable Halloween treat!

SWSO Fundraiser event


T’was the night before the 13th, and all through the city, the musicians and classical music appreciators were gathered at Entrada for the SWSO Fundraiser

With the gents in their coat tails and ladies in gowns, everyone came to see the best quartet around!

Lucas Darger, Nona Miller, Shay Clark, and Dr. Ka-Wai Yu put together a wonderful quartet for this fundraising event. Thank you to everyone who attended! We hope you enjoyed the music and there is plenty more to come.

Happy Birthday, JJ Abernathy!

A very happy birthday to JJ Abernathy, former president of the board of trustees of the Symphony. Many of you may know that JJ stepped down as president just a few weeks ago. We want to let those of you who do not know JJ to get a glimpse of the person who is one of the many who has done an indescribable amount of work to get the Symphony to where it is today. Thank you, JJ!

JJ Abernathy, a rancher’s daughter from Southwestern Idaho and a former international business executive based in Hong Kong, repatriated to America after an 18-year stint in Asia for life in the Great American Southwest. While in Hong Kong, she helped establish a 250,000 sq. ft. manufacturing operation in China, where she annually produced millions of toys for the world’s children, including Barbie for Mattel. She holds a degree from Brigham Young University, earned a diploma in the Management Development Program (MDP) sponsored by the Asian Women Management Association in Hong Kong, and attended University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Utah State University, and Southern Utah University for graduate classes in business, English literature, creative writing, and gifted and talented education. She received her MBA in nonprofit management through Marylhurst University.

She was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to study medieval culture with an emphasis in medieval music at Yale University, and completed an institute sponsored by the Pittsburgh Symphony and NEH.  She also completed a fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. As a former cellist in the Southwest Symphony Orchestra, JJ remains committed to the arts in her community. Currently, she serves as board chair of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and writes a weekly column called “Music Times” for The Spectrum newspaper, a Gannett publication.  She regularly contributes to Etched magazine (formerly élan). JJ has served as a secondary educator of English, sociology, and entrepreneurship.  She lives with her husband Patrick in St. George, and is the mother of four musically-gifted children and grandmother of ten.  In 2013, she received the Woman of Achievement Award in Entertainment by Utah Business Women. JJ embraces the philosophy that every life is like a symphony.