CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The Southwest Symphony returns for two exhilarating nights in concert to honor America’s finest composers. Featuring local musicians at the top of their game, it’s a showcase of talent and passion you won’t want to miss.

The Southwest Symphony’s 2023-2024 membership, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Southwest Symphony, St. George News

“American Voices: Gershwin and the Rhapsody in Red, White and Blue” is set for Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, at the Southwest Symphony‘s new temporary home in the Desert Hills High School performing arts auditorium. 

“We’re really excited about this show,” music director Lucas Darger said. “It’s been a long time in the works.”

Joined by renowned pianist and Grammy-winning recording artist Jeffrey Biegel, the symphony will perform George Gershwin’s masterpiece “Rhapsody in Blue,” which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. One of the most recognizable compositions of the early 20th century, this iconic work fuses elements of classical music with jazz and blues to create a uniquely American sound.

“Everybody knows it, even if they don’t know it by name,” Darger said.

Southern Utah audiences will be among the first to hear the “Rhapsody in Red, White and Blue,” a new creation from Peter Boyer. Inspired by Gershwin and commissioned by Biegel, Boyer has composed a work that celebrates the history and spirit of America through a blend of contemporary and traditional styles. St. George is one of the stops along its 50-state premier tour. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this historic event.

The Southwest Symphony live in concert at the Cox Performing Arts Center, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Southwest Symphony, St. George News

Biegel will also visit Utah Tech on Friday at noon to host a piano masterclass in the Eccles Concert Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Additionally, the Southwest Symphony will perform works by all-time greats like Leroy Anderson and Leonard Bernstein as well as the “Toast of the Town Overture” from Quinn Mason, one of the brightest young stars in American classical music today.

“It’ll be a really fun and unique show,” Darger said.

The symphony has relocated to Desert Hills High School for the remainder of their 2023-24 performance season while Utah Tech’s Cox Performing Arts Center undergoes long-awaited renovations. Tickets are expected to sell out, so don’t wait to reserve your seats.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. both nights. The approximate runtime is 100 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. Children younger than age 5 are not permitted.

Ticket prices range between $15.50 and $38 depending on the section. Discounts are available for students and seniors, as well as attendees who buy four or more tickets to the same performance. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Utah Tech ticket office at 435-652-7800.

Don’t miss your chance to be swept away by the power and beauty of live orchestral music during the Southwest Symphony’s 43rd performance season. This fascinating and diverse series of concerts will explore everything from centuries-old masterpieces to contemporary compositions.

The Southwest Symphony live in concert at the Cox Performing Arts Center, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Southwest Symphony, St. George News

Continuing the season, the Southwest Symphony will enthrall audiences with the elegance of Russian classical music on April 5. Journey to the steppes of central Asia with Borodin, followed by Mussorgsky’s dynamic and emotionally charged “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The concert also features Leah Keyes, the Southwest Symphony’s 2024 Young Artist Competition gold medalist, and promises to be an unforgettable experience for all music lovers.

Originally assembled as a handful of local musicians seeking a venue for sharing classical music with the community, the Southwest Symphony is now an auditioned group of about 80 professional and skilled amateur performers. Alongside renowned guest soloists, the passionate musicians and staff work tirelessly to produce quality concerts every season.

“We’ve got a really supportive and volunteer-driven community that cares about and believes in what we’re trying to accomplish,” Darger said. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of people willing to help make it happen.”

Visit the Southwest Symphony website for more details on upcoming shows and to learn how your support helps advance the performing arts in Southern Utah.

Event details

What: Southwest Symphony presents “American Voices: Gershwin and the Rhapsody in Red, White and Blue.” 
When: Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, starting at 7:30 p.m. 
Where: Desert Hills High School, 828 E. Desert Hills Drive, St. George. 
Tickets: $15.50-$38.  
Resources: Website

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

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