Our journey across Salt Lake City briefly detours east to a possibly-overlooked landmark. Between City Creek Center and the sprawl of the Salt Palace lies a treasure: Maurice Abravanel Hall.
As the home of the Utah Symphony, Abravanel Hall carries the name of the orchestra’s founder, Maurice Abravanel. The Utah Symphony originally began as the Utah State Symphony Orchestra, and was a community orchestra. When Abravanel came to Utah from Europe (having been born in the Ottoman Empire, raised in Switzerland, and conducted music across multiple countries), he desired to make the orchestra a full-time operation. He would lead the Utah Symphony for 32 years, seeing them become established in their permanent home which now bears his name just after he retired from conducting.
Construction on the facility began in 1976 with Abravanel, Jack Gallivan, and O.C. Tanner overseeing design and construction. The unique design is a brick exterior shell covering a concrete building on the inside. Even with expansions and renovations, the building’s profile has not changed much, a timeless design. Most recently, the facility received updated grounds along South Temple street, greeting visitors with a contemporary design and clear advertisements for their events.
For the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Dale Chihuly, a Washington-based glassblower, commissioned The Olympic Tower, a glass-blown sculpture which is displayed prominently in the entryway. The inside is outfitted with imported crystal chandeliers, light wood, and gold fittings and trim around the stage. It’s the perfect framing and set-up to see and hear the Utah Symphony, currently led by Thierry Fischer.
Now one of the few full-time orchestras in the United States, the Utah Symphony performs year-round in Salt Lake City and up in Park City during the summer season. But when they’re not on tour, recording, or up at the Deer Valley Music Festival, be sure to check them out in Abravanel Hall.