Conner Gray Covington
Conner Gray Covington recently completed a four-year tenure with the Utah Symphony as Associate Conductor and as Principal Conductor of the Deer Valley® Music Festival. During his tenure in Utah, Covington conducted nearly 300 performances of classical subscription, education, film, pops, and family concerts as well as tours throughout the state. This season he returns to the Utah Symphony as a guest conductor on several occasions and debuts with the Amarillo Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Idaho State Civic Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony. Previously, he was a Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he worked closely with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, with whom he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2016, and the Curtis Opera Theater while also being mentored by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Covington began his career as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. A four-time recipient of a Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., he was a featured conductor in the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview presented by the League of American Orchestras.
Born in Louisiana, Covington grew up in East Tennessee and began playing the violin at age 11. He completed high school at the renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. He then went on to study violin with Dr. Martha Walvoord and conducting with Dr. Clifton Evans at the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in violin performance. He continued his studies with Neil Varon at the Eastman School of Music where he earned a MM in orchestral conducting and was awarded the Walter Hagen Conducting Prize.
Cirque de la Symphonie
Cirque de la Symphonie is a unique and exciting production designed to bring the magic of cirque to the music hall. It is an elegant fusion of cirque and orchestra, adapting the stunning performances of cirque artists with the majesty of the full symphony orchestra. The program showcases many of the best cirque artists in the world, thrilling the audience with aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen. These are some of the most accomplished veterans of exceptional cirque programs and include world record holders, gold-medal winners, Olympians, and some of the most original talent ever seen.
Cirque performances are uniquely adapted to the limited stage accommodations shared with the symphony, and the choreography perfectly matches the music arrangement. Adding Cirque de la Symphonie to a symphony concert provides three-dimensional entertainment for all to enjoy.
Cirque de la Symphonie performs with orchestras across North America and beyond. Because the program is relatively uncomplicated to organize on stage, it has become a favorite option for artistic directors exploring ways to energize a concert series. Although a general repertoire is provided, final music selections involve collaboration with the music director, making each engagement a unique concert event.
Something magical happens when these cirque veterans take the stage in front of the live orchestra. Audiences are mesmerized by an aerialist flying out over their heads, performing acrobatics on silk fabrics. Children are amazed at the wizardry of the juggling feats and magic acts. The strength and flexibility of the strongmen and contortionist leave audiences astounded.
The cirque feats contribute to the spirited performance of the orchestra, providing a visual enhancement to the magnificence of a live symphony concert. Proclamations of “the best concert program ever” by conductors and musicians alike are common. One music director exclaimed, “It’s like one plus one equals three- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” The symphony plays with more energy, and the cirque artists provide peak performances in this unique environment.
Patrons quickly realize they are witnessing something special. Cirque de la Symphonie fills up the venue, and audience enthusiasm ignores standard concert etiquette with frequent interruptions of applause and vocal expressions.
The popularity of Cirque de la Symphonie generates a great demand for tickets, and the sold-out concerts provide a revenue boost for symphonies facing shrinking endowments. The success of the program is helping to revitalize attendance with symphonies everywhere, attracting a wave of new faces that includes families, students and young professionals, some witnessing a live orchestra for the first time. Perhaps that explains why Cirque de la Symphonie has a full calendar well into future seasons.