T he Utah Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1940 by the board of directors of the newly created Utah State Symphony Orchestra Association, later renamed the Utah Symphony Society. Throughout its 36-year association with the state, the Utah Symphony Orchestra’s two-pronged mission was to regularly perform symphonic programs and maintain the highest standards of music as well as develop, insofar as would be consistent with regard to business efficiency and artistic performance, the musical talent and resources of the state.
Since its inception, the orchestra has been known as the Utah State Symphony Orchestra (1940-1946), Utah Symphony Orchestra (1946-1967), the Utah Symphony Society Orchestra (1967-1988), and the Utah Symphony Orchestra (1988-present).
Logo of the Utah Symphony OrchestraA primary function of the Utah Symphony Orchestra has been to supply employment and training for native musicians in orchestral, choral, and operatic performances. Much of this training was accomplished through the symphony’s long association with the University of Utah. Beginning in 1948, the Utah Symphony became the official orchestra for the University of Utah Summer Festival productions of opera and Broadway musicals. The symphony secured rehearsal quarters in the Annex. In return the orchestra’s library became available for use by the university’s music department and leading symphony personnel became available for instructing instrumental students. The orchestra has also been an integral part of the university’s ambitious ballet program since its inception in 1950 as well as forming the pit orchestra for University Theatre productions of representative Broadway musicals each season. The University of Utah Chorale became the official recording and performing voice of the Utah Symphony.
The orchestra’s concert schedule included subscription concerts in two cities, youth concert programs, student assembly school concerts, special performances, regular concert tours throughout Utah and the inter mountain region and special national and international tours. Symphony performances were regularly featured on local radio broadcasts and the orchestra made guest appearances on nationwide broadcasts. Since beginning its commercial recording program in 1957, Utah Symphony has had more than 125 major releases on several different record labels. Utah Symphony musicians, billed as the Columbia Symphony, also participated in recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on several occasions. The Utah Symphony was also the official orchestra for the annual Ballet West production of “The Nutcracker” as well as for the Utah Opera Company.
155 Maurice Abravanel conducting. Photograph copyright protected by Marriott Library at the University of Utah. Used by kind permission
The Utah Symphony Orchestra was initially governed by the 25-member board of directors (later increased to 33 members) and the 7-member executive committee of the Utah State Symphony Orchestra Association. A musical director employed by the board recruited, hired, and conducted musicians. An associate conductor has been employed since 1948. Business affairs were handled by the manager (later called the executive director). As chief operating officer, the manager supervised the executive staff and ran the front office.
T he Utah State Symphony Orchestra Association, meeting jointly with the art institute board (#369), first convened on April 8, 1940. Association members scheduled a concert for May 8, 1940, and began the work of recruiting and hiring musicians to form the new orchestra. Former members of the Utah State Sinfonietta, a community orchestra established in 1935 through funding by the federal Work Projects Administration (WPA) and operating under an art institute campaign designed to develop Utah talent in all the arts, formed the nucleus of the new orchestra hired by the board. A contingent of professional musicians augmented the holdover players to form a 52-piece orchestra.
A fter six seasons of this two-tier arrangement, the symphony board in December 1945 decided to upgrade the orchestra to a fully professional, full-time organization. Although its goal of a full-time (52-week, year-round schedule) professional symphony orchestra wasn’t realized until 1980, the board immediately began contracting with professionals for the 1946 season. This action had a stabilizing effect, making the 1946 season the first with stable personnel.
The Utah Symphony Society, which governed the 85-piece orchestra, severed organizational ties with the Division of Fine Arts on May 24, 1976, becoming a non-governmental, publicly supported, nonprofit corporation. The Utah Symphony continues to receive funding from the Utah Division of Fine Arts in the form of grants to nonprofit arts organizations.
Maurice Abravanel conducting the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Photograph of the Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah. Used by kind permission. Copyright protected.
Utah State Symphony Orchestra Association, 1940-1946
Utah Symphony Orchestra, 1946-1967
Utah Symphony Society Orchestra, 1967-1988 (In 1976 the society then became a non-governmental, publicly supported, nonprofit corporation.)
Utah Symphony Orchestra, 1988-present
Keith Lockhaert – 1988 – Presence
Joseph Silverstein, 1983-1988
Varujan Kojian , 1980-1983
VACANT (guest conductors), 1979-1980
Maurice Abravanel, 1947-1979
Werner Janssen, 1946-1947 season
VACANT (James Sample and other guest conductors), 1945-1946 season
Hans Heniot, 1940-1945
Associate Music Conductors
Kirk Muspratt, 1990-present
Christopher Wilkins, 1986-1989
Charles Ketcham, 1982-1986
Robert Henderson, 1979-1982
Ardean Watts, 1968-1979
Assistant Music Conductors
Kory Katseanes, 1987-present
David Austin Shand, 1948-1965
Paul R. Chummers, 1986-present
Robert J. Darling, 1985-1986
Herold L. (Huck) Gregory, 1958-1985 (manager, 1957-1977; exec. director, 1977-1985)
David S. Romney, 1949-1958
Ruth Cowan, 1946-1949
Gail Martin, 1940-19xx
Joan H. Squires, 1988-present
Stephen Boyd, 19xx-1988