Salt Lake Symphony Season Release

Here’s the 44th Season for the Salt Lake Symphony, year 15 for me as Music Director. Time flies when you’re having fun.


Salt Lake Symphony, 2019-2020 ~ The 44th Season. Robert Baldwin, Music Director

September 28, 2019. Fantastique! 44th Season Opener

  • César Franck: Le Chausseur maudit
  • Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

November 9, 2019. New Horizons. Julie Wright-Costa, soprano. World Premiere piece by John Costa, plus HS Side-by-Side performance.

  • Alberto Ginastera: Estancia Suite, op. 8a (with side-by-side High School musicians)
  • John Costa: World Premiere Piece for Soprano and Orchestra
  • Aaron Copland: Symphony No. 3

December 5, 6 and 7, 2019: Amahl and Christmas Carol at the Grand Theatre.

Collaboration with the Grand Theater and University of Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble

(Robert Breault, Director of U Opera; Nick Harker and Michael Leavitt, conductors)

  • Giancarlo Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors
  • Michael Leavitt: A Christmas Carol

December 14, 2019: Let There Be Peace: Holiday Concert with Utah Voices

Robert Baldwin and Kelly DeHaan, conductors

  • Dan Forrest: “Arise, Shine!”
  • Other Holiday Favorites TBA

January 11, 2020 Family Concert: The Thrill of Music!

Robert Baldwin and Nick Harker, conductors. Justine Sheedy, choreographer. Dancers from the UofU School of Dance

  • Richard Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries
  • James Newton-Howard: Selections from “King Kong”
  • Russell Peck: The Thrill of the Orchestra
  • Hector Berlioz: March to the Scaffold and Dies Irae from Symphonie Fantastique
  • Johann Strauss, Sr.: Radetzky March
  • John Williams: Music from “Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens”

January 25, 2020 Summer Arts Piano Competition Winners Concert

Jinhyoun Baek, Guest Conductor

  • Program TBD from competition winners

February 8, 2020: Annual Vienna Ball

March 14, 2020. Jie Yuan, piano; Robert Baldwin and Nick Harker, conductors

  • Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 “Classical Symphony”
  • Paul Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Weber
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”

April 25, 2020. Romantic Favorites. Bo Wu, Guest Conductor

  • Franz Schubert: Overture to “Die Zauberharfe“ (Rosamunde)
  • Bedrich Smetana: The Moldau from “Ma Vlast”
  • Peter Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, op. 36\

May 16. 2020 Nights in Jazz: with Kris Johnson, trumpet, and his combo

  • George Gershwin: An American in Paris
  • Orchestral selections with Kris Johnson and his jazz quartet
  • Duke Ellington: Black, Brown, and Beige Suite

June 25, 2020. Spotlight Performance for the Utah Arts Festival.

  • Program: All-American Spotlight


For ticket and other information, please visit



From the Shore to the Depths

Benjamin Britten scares me. Don’t misunderstand, I’m sure he was a pleasant chap. And yes, he’s dead, so I suppose if he showed up in my living room today it would be a bit frightening. More to the point, it’s his music that gives me pause, makes me question reality. Britten’s music also entices, begging me to enter…

What I find in his music is sometimes so individual, so personal, that I am reticent to look deeply at first. It’s like entering another’s thoughts, someone who understands life much differently than I do. It forces me to ask, “Am I supposed to be here?” Britten’s art is a dark tunnel, where what awaits us is contradictory, containing both certainty and doubt; mystery and truth; beauty and terror.

He’s the Kafka of 20th Century music, in my opinion. And like that great writer, once you allow yourself to be open to his message, things will happen. The rusty cogs turn revealing glimpses of mist-enshrouding things you may or may not want to see. Wondrous things. Terrifying things. Meaningful things. But look you must. This is the musical star stuff that can be perspective-changing.

But first you have to dive in and wrestle with the notes, for revelation does not come without some major effort.

“As Gregor awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an eighth note…” (not Kafka, but still Kafka-like)

This is a rather long-winded way of saying that I’m really looking forward to conducting Britten’s Four Sea Interludes with SLS for the March 16th concert. It’ll be my first trip with this trippy music. Also on the program: Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony and Peter Boyer’s Festivities. Nature abounds, but the program defines human nature as well. Hope you can join us!

Copyright 2019. Robert Baldwin

SLS March poster

Musical Big Leagues?


To wear the uniform in the elite league, your first 10 minutes need to be a highlight reel of epic proportions, without a fumble, bobble or slightest hesitation.  Your first years need to be Pro Bowl performances.  And you’d better make some friends, too. When you retire, there is no Hall of Fame to enter.  Being perpetually at the top of your game is the expectation of the profession.

Such is the pressure cooker world of top shelf orchestras in this country.  Many people wonder what it would be like to play for a professional orchestra.  A recent article from Boston Magazine sheds some light on the audition process from the outside.  It follows two young percussionists and their experiences with the Boston Symphony.  One is on his way out, having been denied tenure.  The other is taking the audition for the job of a lifetime.  The BSO is arguably one of the finest orchestras in the world, so we are talking top echelon here.   The article provides good insight and also provides opportunities of reflection for those musicians who are climbing that particular ladder.

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

One of the finest cellists of the past century, Janos Starker, put this into perspective for me about 10 years ago.  I was on a panel at a conference where he was a featured speaker.  His grandfatherly talk to us, an assemblage of several hundred string players and teachers, was quite memorable.  While I cannot recall his exact words, here is the gist of what he said:

“So many of you are worried about making it to some supposedly top level.  This is not the case outside of America.  Europe is filled with music masters and teachers in most every city, and town.  My advice is to be happy wherever you are.  You make a difference no matter where you are.”

That’s probably small consolation to the two percussionists in the article: one who just lost the job of a lifetime, and the other who was never given the opportunity.  But I think Mr. Starker’s advice is worth noting for anyone traveling down the road to becoming a professional musician.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

You can read the article by clicking this link:

The story was also covered on NPR.  See their classical music blog here:

In full disclosure, I have never played in a “major” orchestra, nor auditioned for one.  I have “subbed” with professional orchestras and did win a few regional orchestra auditions (a few as a principal player, one with a salary where I could nominally survive).  For my career, I chose to pursue collegiate teaching instead.  I’ve never regretted the decision (Mr. Starker’s philosophy certainly helped put it into perspective, though).

Copyright, 2012 Robert Baldwin