Watch those dates

Symphony and cannon

Saw Utah Symphony's performance of the 1812 Overture at Deer Valley tonight. Before that, dinner at Wasatch Pub on Park City's Main Street.

We got to the pub at 16:00. Concert started at 19:30, so we had a few hours for a leisurely late lunch/early dinner, and we took our time. We went through two servers—love those shift changes—and stayed through probably 10 or 15 different parties at the tables around us. Amazing to me how people don't take time to enjoy themselves in restaurants anymore; they're rushing right through the experience, barely taking time to taste the beer they're guzzling, or savor the flavors of the meals they're inhaling.

Their patio seating was closed because a brief rain had passed through just before we arrived, and another shower moved through a while after we got there. Weather forecast predicted diminishing showers through the afternoon; we weren't worried about rain at the concert, and we had an umbrella in any case. And since we'd planned to hang out at the pub until around 19:00, we watched the rain with passing interest.

The show was a pleasant surprise. It was the final show of the inaugural Deer Valley Music Festival. I hadn't seen a Utah Symphony performance in enough years that I don't remember when the last one was. The Deer Valley amphitheater is a beautiful setting, and the music was spectacular, even if the audience was stupid.

First, the music.

The symphony opened with Tchaikovsky's "Polonaise" from Eugene Onegin, a piece I'd never heard. They moved immediately on to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, with an absolutely phenomenal soloist: Eugene Ugorski, a 14-year-old phenomenon born in Russia and now living in San Diego. He takes lessons at BYU and made his professional debut in November 1998 as a soloist with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra. His performance was absolutely captivating, and brought to light the audience's woeful lack of knowledge of symphony etiquette.

Utahns don't get symphony etiquette. They applauded every time Ugorski finished a solo section, usually while the orchestra was continuing to play. At one point Keith Lockhart, the symphony's music director and conductor of tonight's performance, turned and waved the audience down so they wouldn't miss the rest of the orchestra's performance of the ongoing music. I wanted to stand up and scream, "Stop making noise! They're still playing!"

But anyway, back to the program. Following Ugorski's astounding solo performances with the orchestra's rendition of the Violin Concerto in D Major, the audience broke away for a 20-minute intermission. I rushed into lodge building to find a restroom and managed to beat the lengthy lines, so I was back to the seating area in only a few minutes while everyone milled around drinking coffee or soda.

It's August, of course, and the area around Park City cools off quite a bit faster than the Salt Lake City area. I'd estimate the temperature was in the low 60s or high 50s. Humidity was high because of the rain that had passed through and drenched the lawns in the audience area, so many people wore jackets. But more than a few folks were decked out in full mid-winter gear—fur-lined coats, gloves, knit caps, the works. I felt fine in my short-sleeve shirt and t-shirt; I can't imagine how hot these people must have been with that many layers, especially for the ones sipping at cups of coffee or hot chocolate.

Ah well, the mysteries of people-watching soon surrendered to the second half of the program. The orchestra opened with Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from Le Coq d'or, and once more the audience displayed amazing lack of etiquette, applauding every time there was a pause of any length and completely indifferent to the music's actual movements.

Finally it was time for the evening's climax, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Op. 49. We'd walked past the line of cannon as we arrived, so we knew what was coming; in any event, the cannon were far enough away from the audience area that we could see the firings before we heard them, and still the audience twitched as one every time one of the reports echoed across the little valley. It was truly something to see, and the orchestra did a magnificent job with it.

I just glanced at the symphony's September calendar and saw a couple of the series performances I'd like to attend. Time to fire up the ticket web sites, methinks....