Utah Symphony announces June concert under southwestern Utah skies

Photo: Utah Symphony

SPRINGDALE, Utah, Dec. 11, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Symphony has announced its plan to perform Olivier Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles…” (“From the Canyons to the Stars…”), written in celebration of three landscapes of Utah, close to one of the locations that inspired it.

The Utah plans to travel to the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater, adjacent to Zion National Park, for a June 2 performance of the 12-movement work.

The work was inspired by Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. 

“Recognizing an opportunity for the Utah Symphony to embrace the work inspired by the beauty of its own state, Music Director Thierry Fischer has been programming individual movements on Masterworks Series concerts since 2019 — all leading to the culmination of the project on June 2, 2022, when the orchestra will perform ‘From the Canyons to the Stars in its entirety,” says a statement issued by the Utah Symphony

“It will be incredibly unique to hear Messiaen’s music performed in one of the locations that inspired it — and by musicians who live in, know, and love the natural beauty of Utah,” Fischer said in the released statement. “This is a monumental work that is rarely performed, and the breathtaking setting of Zion National Park will make it an unparalleled experience.”

Hear ‘nature’ in nature

Music lovers are invited to join for this melding of music and nature  as the Utah Symphony showcases its extraordinary artistry in Messiaen’s masterpiece, performed against the stunning backdrop of red-rock cliffs. To deepen concertgoers’ understanding of the music and to create an immersive experience, the Utah Symphony, together with partner organizations, will offer activities in the Southwestern Utah landscapes that inspired Messiaen, including Dark Skies stargazing, guided hikes, an exploration of Utah’s native birds, and pre-concert talks with the artists. Additionally, in advance of the performance, the symphony will release multimedia materials to help guide listening.

The story of “From the Canyons to the Stars”  began in 1971, when arts patron Alice Tully commissioned French composer Oliver Messiaen to write a work celebrating America’s upcoming bicentennial. Messiaen, enchanted by photographs of Bryce Canyon, traveled with his wife to Utah, where he found boundless inspiration in the otherworldly cliffs, canyons, and rock formations. The work was completed in 1972 and premiered two years later.


The work is in three parts, each concluding with a depiction of one of the landscapes he visited. In the natural amphitheater of Cedar Breaks, he was overwhelmed with its “wild and colorful beauty” and a feeling of “immense solitude.”

In Bryce Canyon, which he felt convinced was the most beautiful place on the planet, he heard bright E-major chords in his mind as he gazed upon the red rocks (Messiaen had a condition called synesthesia, meaning that he “heard” colors and “saw” sound). 

Zion Park inspired the “ultimate joy” and he translated this into a triumphant finale.

Tickets for the concert are on sale through utahsymphony.org. For lodging, activities, and other resources to plan your trip to Zion National Park this June, click here


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