Media Contact:
Renée Huang | Director of Communications
[email protected] (801) 869-9027



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (August 31, 2017) – On September 11th at 4 PM, Utah Opera in partnership with the University of Utah School of Music hosts world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming at Libby Gardner Hall in an eye-opening free lecture exploring the connections between music, health, and the brain. “Music & The Mind” is an hour-long multimedia presentation with Renée Fleming and Norman L. Foster, M.D., Professor of Neurology and Senior Investigator of The Brain Institute at the University of Utah and Director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging and Research. Tickets are not required but seating is limited and first come first served – doors open at 3:30 pm.




Inspired by a partnership she initiated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Institutes of Health, Ms. Fleming’s and Dr. Foster’s presentation explores the power of music, from prehistoric times to its role today. The discussion will include discoveries that are changing our understanding of the brain, the amazing benefits of music therapy for health and wellbeing, and how brain imaging has become a gateway to improve evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

“The apparent convergence between music, the mind, and health is a theme that has a long tradition going back to ancient times,” said Miguel Chuaqui, Director of the School of Music at the University of Utah. “Ms. Fleming’s and Dr. Foster’s presentation will offer a unique opportunity to hear the perspective of a truly great musician on this intriguing topic, supported by modern scientific research. Our students and faculty could not be more thrilled!”

Renée Fleming is one of the most acclaimed singers of our time. At a White House ceremony in 2013, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts, America's highest honor for an individual artist. Winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo, she has sung for momentous occasions from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, to the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Ms. Fleming brought her voice to a vast new audience in 2014, as the first classical artist to sing the US National Anthem at the Superbowl.

Throughout Ms. Fleming’s journey as an artist, she has been struck by music’s power to heal and transform lives. “Beyond its ability to enthrall and entertain, music offers a host of health benefits – from childhood development to therapeutic applications for Alzheimer’s disease, autism, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain,” said Ms. Fleming. “And close to my heart, singing can retrain the brain to use different neural circuitry for speech, helping those who have suffered a stroke to regain the ability to communicate.”

Dr. Norman Foster is a board-certified geriatric neurologist who has specialized in brain imaging and dementing and neurodegenerative diseases for over 30 years. In 2005, his passion for improving Alzheimer's care brought him to the University of Utah Department of Neurology, where he helped establish the Intermountain West's first academic clinic devoted to Alzheimer's disease and related disorders – the Center for Alzheimer's Care, Imaging and Research (CACIR).

Ms. Fleming’s presentation in Utah is linked to her gala performance later that week on Wednesday, September 13 celebrating Utah Opera’s 40th anniversary season. She joins the Utah Opera Chorus and Utah Symphony under the direction of Music Director Thierry Fischer onstage at Abravanel Hall for a program featuring Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs.” The performance will be a fundraising gala benefiting the organization’s education department, which brings opera and symphonic music outreach opportunities and access to more than 140,000 students each year.

Utah Opera’s 40th anniversary season opens in October 2017 with Puccini’s beloved “La bohème,” the first opera produced by the company in January 1978 during its inaugural season. In January 2018, the company presents the Utah debut of American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s “Moby-Dick,” featuring new costumes and sets constructed at Utah Opera’s Production Studios in Salt Lake City. The season continues in March 2018 with a double-bill of Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” and Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” that pair tragedy and comedy with all-new sets constructed in house by Utah Opera. A production of ‘Waltz King’ Johann Strauss, Jr.’s “Die Fledermaus” concludes the season in May 2018, capping off the season-long 40th anniversary celebration with the opera’s closing “Champagne Song.” All four productions will be staged at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, and feature five performances each. For more information, visit

40 Days of Opera
Utah Opera’s 40th anniversary season will kick off on September 1 and continue into October with 40 days of community opera outreach events and collaborations in partnership with other Utah-based organizations. In appreciation of our community’s 40 years of loyal support, opera-oriented events that bring the party to the people will include pop-up performances at public buildings, outdoor festivals, sporting events, and other venues across Utah. The company’s extensive outreach programs in Utah’s schools will also be highlighted. For a list of events, visit to tag this celebration on social media, use #UO40days.

Music and the Mind
Free presentation by Renée Fleming and Dr. Norman Foster 

Monday, September 11, 2017 | 4:00 PM
Libby Gardner Hall | David Gardner Hall, University of Utah

Tickets not required but seating is limited and first come first served – doors open at 3:30 pm. RSVP by September 6 to Chelsea Kauffman at [email protected] or 801-869-9001 in order to reserve a spot.

Event Sponsored by Zions Bank
Presented in partnership with the University of Utah Health Sciences and School of Music

About Utah Opera
Utah Opera, established by Glade Peterson in 1978, has been part of the Utah community for 40 years and engages audiences through inspiring operatic performances. The opera company presents four annual productions at the historic Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and regularly partners with Utah Symphony and other organizations for special presentations. In addition to producing classic works from the operatic repertoire, Utah Opera also emphasizes the importance of contemporary American opera, with notable achievements including the 1996 world premiere of David Carlson’s “Dreamkeepers”, co-commissioning and presenting the Western U.S. premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s “The Grapes of Wrath” in 2007, presenting the Western U.S. premiere of Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann’s “The Long Walk” in 2017, and leading the creation of a new production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s “Moby-Dick” that will feature a versatile set designed to adapt to a wide range of theater stages, making it possible for more companies to undertake this important 21st century opera.

Utah Opera operates full-time production studios where operas are rehearsed and costumes, props and set pieces are designed, made, rented out and stored. The opera currently has 19 full sets and costumes for 50 full productions in its inventory. Utah Opera also offers a Resident Artist Program, a nationally recognized young artist training program for professional singers and pianists who perform for more than 70,000 students each year free of charge through the organization’s education and outreach activities. The Utah Symphony has performed as part of the Opera’s productions since the company’s founding, and the two organizations merged in 2002.

Utah Opera’s current Artistic Director, Christopher McBeth, joined the company in the fall of 2000 and took over primary artistic leadership in 2003. Under his leadership, Utah Opera productions have received acclaim for introducing audiences to the next generation of fine singing actors. Mr. McBeth strives to produce distinguished quality productions that showcase emerging and established artists, celebrate traditional works, and champion the American operatic tradition. For more information, visit

About the School of Music
At the University of Utah School of Music world-renowned faculty members mentor the next generation of performers, composers, scholars, and educators through a personalized, rigorous, and transformative musical education. The School serves both the art of music and its communities through performance, composition, research, and publication, and the participation of its students and faculty in festivals, conferences, competitions, and recordings. The School of Music is a vibrant center for intellectual, educational, and cultural musical activities within the university, community, region, and nation. For more information, visit


The Utah Opera 40th Anniversary Season Sponsor is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. 


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