Since 1990 the Utah Arts Festival has provided seed funding to classical music and jazz composers who annually created new work to premiere on our stages. We began commissioning choreographers just three years ago. Few other organizations in the state have provided the impetus for more original performing art.

Jazz Commission

"A Shift West" by Kris Johnson

Sat, June 25, 7:30PM, Festival Stage

In this new composition trumpeter and composer Kris Johnson reflects on his recent relocation to Utah from Detroit. It is a candid musical diary entry that characterizes the experiences Kris has had as a Midwesterner transitioning to a new culture, city, and position as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah. Listeners will hear the distinct difference between the two cities, the warmth that Kris experienced being welcomed into a new community, and the ways in which this new experience has broadened his world.

Composer's Bio: Kris Johnson is an award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator. He has appeared on an impressive list of albums including two Grammy-nominated releases: Tony Bennett’s "A Swingin’ Christmas" and Karen Clark Sheard’s "All In One". Kris is a trumpeter and arranger with the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2013 he was featured in the standup-comedy film "Make Me Wanna Holla" starring Sinbad. Currently, Kris is the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah. He received his master’s (2007) and bachelor’s (2005) degrees in Jazz Studies from Michigan State University. In 2012, Kris received an ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers award and was selected as one of 25 Detroit performing and literary artists to receive a Kresge Artist Fellowship. Mr. Johnson is aslo the former director of Detroit Symphony's Civic Jazz Orchestra. More info at

Chamber Ensemble Commission

"Five Grand Micro-Adventures" by Randy Bauer

Performed by The Vertigo Ensemble, Andrew Rindfleisch, Music Director

Sat, June 25, 4PM, Library Auditorium

randy bauer hiresRandy Bauer, a composer and accomplished jazz pianist, is associate professor of music at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. His works have been performed from New York City to Zagreb, and he is a winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s Award and has received recognition from DownBeat, Jazz Composers Alliance. About Five Grand Micro-Adventures he says,

“I found out that my wife and I would become first-time parents right around the same time I received this commission. My months-long reflection on what a grand adventure it would be to raise our child came to writing the piece, which is cast in five short movements. There’s wonderment mixed with contemporary music techniques, the second and fourth movements are calm and introspective, while the outer and middle movements are full of energy and optimism.

Performance also includes exciting new contemporary chamber music by Brian Ferneyhough, Stephanie Ann Boyd, Timothy Beyer, and Clint Needham.

Composer's Bio: Randy Bauer is a composer and jazz musician based in Minneapolis. His works have been performed across a range of cities and venues, from Austin to Zagreb, including New York, Chicago, Washington (the Kennedy Center), Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Los Angeles, St. Petersburg (Russia), Uppsala (Sweden), Berlin, Paris, Weimar, and in many other smaller cities and at universities across the United States. Premieres of his work have been given by members of the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Brentano String Quartet, eighth blackbird, Nash Ensemble of London, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Synergy Vocals, New Millennium Ensemble, MATA Micro-Orchestra with Theo Bleckmann, Network for New Music, and many others. His music appears on Albany and Cedille Records. He was named a 2013-14 McKnight Foundation Fellow in Music Composition by the McKnight Foundation of Minnesota. He also received a major fellowship in 2006 from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He has been a resident artist at Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and has received many regional and national awards, including three ASCAP/Morton Gould Awards for Young Composers. He is also an accomplished jazz pianist and composer, and has received recognition from DownBeat, the Commission Project, Jazz Composers Alliance, and has won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer's Award. Bauer is Associate Professor of Music at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he teaches composition, theory, and jazz topics. He holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Princeton University, where he earned the Ph.D.

Dance Commission

Fri, June 24, 8:15PM, Festival Stage

AdrianFryAdrian Fry, first soloist with Ballet West, was awarded the Utah Arts Festival’s Dance Commission this year. Adrian was born in Omaha, Nebraska, where he trained with Omaha Theater Ballet School before moving on to study at the School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet School.

In addition to dancing principal roles with Ballet West since being promoted to first soloist in 2015, Adrian has appeared as a guest artist with Ballet Victoria in British Columbia and with Heartland Youth Ballet and Lincoln Midwest Ballet. We are very excited to see what Adrian has up his choreographic sleeve when his commissioned piece is premiered as part of The Stars of Ballet West by Christopher Ruud.

Program Sponsors

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