The Utah Symphony Orchestra does Bowie

Some of us haven’t recovered from David Bowie’s sudden death in January. Many of us never will. But luckily for all of us, the Utah Symphony is celebrating his life and legacy on Saturday night with a night of Bowie’s music.

Backed by a rock band and with vocals by Tony Vincent, who has appeared on Broadway (Rent, American Idiot, Jesus Christ Superstar) and TV’s The Voice (Cee-Lo Greene compared his voice to that of Freddie Mercury. No pressure there, right?)—the symphony aims to show how genre-busting the legendary musician really was.

Clearly influenced by all types of music, Bowie even lists a small sampling of classical records on this list of his 25 favorite records in his vast collection. But, perhaps more importantly than its influence on him, Bowie moved modern classical music forward when his Low Trilogy inspired famed composer Phillip Glass to create The Low Symphony.

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According to notes published on Glass’ website:

The “Low” Symphony, composed in the Spring of 1992, is based on the record “Low” by David Bowie and Brian Eno first released in 1977. The record consisted of a number of songs and instrumentals and used techniques which were similar to procedures used by composers working in new and experimental music. As such, this record was widely appreciated by musicians working both in the field of “pop” music and in experimental music and was a landmark work of that period.

I’ve taken themes from three of the instrumentals on the record and, combining them with material of my own, have used them as the basis of three movements of the Symphony. Movement one comes from “Subterraneans,” movement two from “Some Are” and movement three from “Warszawa.”

My approach was to treat the themes very much as if they were my own and allow their transformations to follow my own compositional bent when possible. In practice, however, Bowie and Eno’s music certainly influenced how I worked, leading me to sometimes surprising musical conclusions. In the end I think I arrived at something of a real collaboration between my music and theirs.

Philip Glass
New York City, 1992

And so, as a hat tip to the great Sir Bowie orchestras all over the country are paying tribute the best way they know how: with a celebration of his music. Unfortunately for all those other orchestras, only the Utah Symphony Orchestra gets to do it at the beautiful Deer Valley Resort.

You can find out more about singer Vincent at Between the Barsan inventive new podcast by USO focusing on the featured artists for each of the Deer Valley Music Festival shows.

And speaking of the festival, there are plenty of shows coming up that aren’t tied to Ziggy Stardust,—including Rogers and Hammerstein on Friday, a Dreamworks night—with cartoon clips shown on a big screen, Bluegrass band The Steep Canyon Rangers and the music of John Williams (insert humming of The Imperial Death March here). Tickets still available.

Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy is a former managing editor at Salt Lake magazine. Though she writes about everything, she has a particular interest in arts and culture in Utah. In the summer months, you will find her at any given outdoor concert on any given night. In the winter, you will find her wishing for summer. Follow her on social media at @whynotboth.

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