Award-winning pianist Benyamin Nuss plays beloved "Rhapsody in Blue" with guest conductor Kazuki Yamada and the Utah Symphony

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (April 20, 2017) – On May 5 and 6 at 7:30 PM, guest conductor Kazuki Yamada leads the Utah Symphony and guest pianist Benyamin Nuss in vivid works by Gershwin, Copland, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Tickets start at $21 ($15 for students), and can be purchased at or by calling (801) 533-6683.

Acclaimed guest conductor Kazuki Yamada will lead the Utah Symphony and skilled pianist Benyamin Nuss in a night of music from around the world; beginning with “El Salón México,” set in an imaginary dance hall in Mexico City and portraying the “tourist” Mexico that Copland experienced. Composition of the piece began in 1932 and was completed in 1936. The Mexico Symphony Orchestra performed the piece for the first time under Carlos Chávez in 1937. Adapted for the 1947 musical film “Fiesta,” Leonard Bernstein created arrangements for solo piano and for two pianos, and in 2006, an award-winning short film based on Aaron Copland’s original score was created.

“Rhapsody in Blue” is one of George Gershwin’s most quintessential works. Persuaded to accept Paul Whiteman’s commission, Gershwin found his concept for the piece on his way to Boston where he was inspired by the rhythmic noises of the train ride. While critics were unsure of the piece, the audience was thrilled and recognized it as something new and excitingly different. Eluding convenient classification it is hard to put “Rhapsody in Blue” into a category of classical music with popular elements or jazz with classical form.

Closing the concert is Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.” Says NPR of the piece: “as far as stories go, it’s hard to top…It’s a treasure trove—a story about one of history’s greatest storytellers and the tales she weaves.” Based on “One Thousand and One Nights,” sometimes known as “The Arabian Nights,” the piece opens in a big and powerful way, with a theme representing the sultan and continues with a solo violin representing “Scheherazade.” As she continues her stories, Rimsky-Koraskov weaves themes with compelling melodies and captivating orchestral colors.

Kazuki Yamada is Principal Conductor and Artistic Director Designate of Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, holds the title of Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Permanent Conductor of Japan Philharmonic, Music Partner with both Sendai Philharmonic and Ensemble Orchestral Kanazawa, and Music Director of Yokohama Sinfonietta. Also active in the field of opera, Mr. Yamada’s expertise in all facets of music is broad, deep, and extremely impressive. 

Benyamin Nuss started piano lessons when he was six, and was inspired and encouraged by his father, internationally-renowned jazz musician Ludwig Nuss. Growing up with many different musical genres. Mr. Nuss’ passion became classical music and jazz. At age ten he began to study the composer Claude Debussy, followed soon after by the works of Maurice Ravel. Demonstrated by his first prizes at the 2005 national Steinway Competition “Young Musicians,” and the 2006 international competition “Prix d’Amadeo de Piano,” as well as his grant from the Hochbegabtenstiftung (Foundation for the Gifted) ”Best of NRW,” Mr. Nuss has a gift that the world cannot ignore. He has turned his passion for videogames into solos on award-winning recordings and a tribute to one of the greatest Role Play Games of all time: “Final Fantasy.” He has composed two pieces that can be heard in “Exotica” and performs his music with his own jazz quartet or in a trio with his father, Ludwig Nuss, and bass player, John Goldsby. Mr. Nuss elegantly and emotionally internalizes the music he plays in a way that will undoubtedly move you, and with a range stretches so far and wide, his abilities are worth seeing for yourself.

pre-concert lecture, free to all ticket holders, will take place at all Masterworks Series performances in Abravanel Hall’s First Tier Room 45 minutes prior to the performance.

The Utah Symphony presents
“Rhapsody in Blue”
May 5 & 6 | 7:30 PM
Abravanel Hall, 123 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah

Kazuki YamadaConductor
Benyamin Nuss, piano

Copland                                 “El Salón México
Gershwin                               “Rhapsody in Blue”
Rimsky-Korsakov                  “Scheherazade”

Symphony Season Sponsor: George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation
Concert Sponsor: Zions Bank
Conductor Sponsor-Kazuki Yamada: Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation

Tickets, priced from $21-$93, are available for purchase through or by calling (801) 533-6683. Tickets increase $5 on the day of the performance.

About the Utah Symphony
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns easy access to world-class live musical performances of the world’s greatest music in the state’s top venues. Since being named the orchestra’s seventh music director in 2009, Thierry Fischer has attracted leading musicians and top soloists, refreshed programming, drawn increased audiences, and galvanized community support. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including the Mighty 5® Tour of Utah’s National Parks, the Utah Symphony has embarked on seven international tours and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016 coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary celebrations. The Utah Symphony has released more than 100 recordings, including, most recently, two albums for Reference Recordings: Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Dawn to Dust, which features three Utah Symphony-commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. With its many subscription, education, and outreach concerts and tours, the Utah Symphony is one of the most engaged orchestras in the nation. For more information visit


Season Sponsor for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.


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