Southwest symphony orchestra to hold benefit to help utah food bank

The symphony also is partnering with the Utah Food Bank “to bring food, hope and inspiration to all those in need," according to symphony board chair Alyce Stevens Gardner. "That is why we have chosen ‘Feeding Body and Soul’ as our concert theme, a concept inspired by the League of American Orchestra’s initiative to feed body and soul.” Feeding the body

Gardner says: “As a pillar of the arts community here in Washington County, we at the Southwest Symphony dedicate ourselves to providing ‘soul food’ through our music, but there are many in our community who go without proper physical nourishment every day.”

The symphony’s efforts began April 14, when musicians from the symphony, family, friends and other volunteers met at the Utah Food Bank to lend their hands where needed.

On concert night, baskets for cash donations will be placed at the entrances of the Cox Auditorium. “At this concert the symphony not only will be performing great works from Beethoven and Brahms, but 100 per cent of the cash donations will be donated to the food bank,” says Gardner. “This demonstrates our commitment to serve the southern Utah community.”

“I am honored to perform this great work with my friend and colleague Dr. Yu,” says Dr. Paul Abegg, a violinist, professor and director of strings and orchestra at Dixie State University. “I encountered this piece many years ago and have longed to learn and perform it since.”

"I am looking forward to my first performance of this piece being with the Southwest Symphony, especially since Brahms is one of my favorite composers," Dr. Ka-Wai Yu, a cellist and professor at DSU. "His Double Concerto has always been one of my favorite concertos of all time — the rich symphonic sound paired with the unique combination of virtuosity and musical depth really attracted me."

Yu tells of listening to performances and performances of this masterwork as a child and yearning to perform it. As a cellist he was enraptured to hear the cello begin the magnificent cello solo at the beginning of the work, after the brief orchestral introduction, describing it as “cool.”

The reality of performing this work became a certainty when he first started teaching at DSU. Gary Caldwell, former Southwest Symphony conductor invited Yu to play for a future season, and after talking with Abegg, they became excited about doing the Double Concerto together. “When Lucas Darger became the new director of the symphony he, too, was enthusiastic — and we decided to make it happen.”

Says Yu, “The Double Concerto is a well-written piece where the solo violin and cello parts are conversational — sometimes complementing each other, sometimes playing in unison (like the second movement) and sometimes interrupting or even arguing with each other. The way Brahms wrote it, the soloists interact and juxtapose with the active orchestral parts organically. It’s heaven-like. The story of tested but reconciled friendship may be reflected in the beautiful, yet deep music in this piece.”

Says Darger, “These are two true masterpieces, written by two of the most well-known composers in history, and we are fortunate to have the talent both in the orchestra and with the soloists to produce such a concert. It’s really a treat the musicians have been looking forward to all year.”

The concert will be performed in the Cox Performing Arts Center on the campus of Dixie State University at 7:30 p.m. on April 27. Go to to reserve seats, which range from $12-24. A family-pass special is being offered for 4-8 tickets. For more information go to the ticket website or call 435-652-7800.