Nicknamed “Symphony of a Thousand” because of its ambitious use of large orchestra, eight soloists and extensive choruses, Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 8” was the 17th offering of the O.C. Tanner Gift of Music held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle Feb. 19-20.
Originating in 1983, the series was endowed by prominent Salt Lake City businessman Obert C. Tanner and his wife, Grace, who joined their vision with that of their friend, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, to present this gift to the community. It combines the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Utah Symphony Orchestra in mostly classical works involving guest artists.
This year, the young choristers of the Madeleine Choir School were also featured. The school is a mission of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine located in downtown Salt Lake City and serves children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The eight guest soloists were sopranos Orla Boylan, Celena Shafer and Amy Owens; mezzo-sopranos Charlotte Hellekant and Tamara Mumford; tenor Barry Banks; baritone Markus Werba; and bass Jordan Bisch.
Thierry Fischer, music director of the Utah Symphony since 2009, conducted the concerts on both nights.
Observing its 75th anniversary this season, the symphony is celebrating with the complete Mahler symphonies in concert, including the Tanner event.
In a message in the printed program for the concerts, the Church’s First Presidency wrote in greeting: “It was the combined vision of Obert C. Tanner and President Gordon B. Hinckley over 30 years ago that created this artistic vehicle to share performances of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah Symphony as a gift to the community. The professional association between these two world-renowned musical organizations spans decades and includes their highly acclaimed performance at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
“This community has long been blessed by the generosity of Obert and Grace Tanner, whose desire was to lift the hearts of all humankind with things of beauty. Over the years, their legacy has graciously provided the support for this concert series so that everyone might be touched by the wonders of fine music.”