West Jordan Symphony in tune with the communitySep 08, 2022 12:51PM ● By Peri Kinder
When Robert Bott had the chance to visit George Handel’s grave in Westminster Abbey, he marveled that the composer’s works from the 1700s were still popular and relevant today. Bott said classical music is a way to connect to history where we can be listening to something our ancestors enjoyed hundreds of years ago.
“I feel it’s really important for people to understand our cultural heritage,” Bott said. “It was like a religious experience to connect back and to think about [Handel’s Messiah] having such a cultural significance today.”
Bott is the music director and conductor of the West Jordan Symphony, an organization that started in 1984 and continues to attract music lovers, whether that’s a musician or an audience member.
With 15 years of conducting experience, Bott started as the assistant conductor in 2019 with the symphony and took on the role of conductor in January 2021.
The West Jordan Symphony has, on average, 40 musicians, ranging from high school students to a musician in her 90s. Bott is always on the lookout for talented players and invites anyone with experience to stop in at one of the Saturday morning rehearsals.
“We’re always open to having people contact us about positions,” he said. “There’s no barriers to participating. Anyone who can play at about an advanced high school level, we want to give them an opportunity to play.”
The symphony performs several times a year at the Viridian Events Center (8030 S. 1825 West), including the popular “Messiah” sing-along in December. The group’s next concert is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. with Halloween music for the holiday.
The Halloween Pops concert will feature music from “Harry Potter,” “Phantom of the Opera” and Disney+'s “Loki.”
“It should really be a fun concert. This is the kind of stuff that kids really enjoy hearing. It’s not going to be quite as serious as our other concerts.”
A Salt Lake City native, Bott earned degrees in composition and instrumental conducting from the University of Utah and a DMA in orchestral conducting from the University of North Texas. He enjoys presenting work from new or underrepresented composers, giving musicians and fans something interesting and creative.
As an amateur group, the West Jordan Symphony’s musicians don’t get paid to perform, but it’s a chance for them to share their love of art and music with friends, family and community members. Many of the players are people who performed in high school who don’t get a lot of opportunities to play elsewhere.
“They’re a very dedicated group, I don’t want to say surprisingly so, but I was really impressed when I came in,” Bott said. “I personally find music therapeutic and there’s definitely nothing wrong with recorded music but I feel like there’s a different energy in a live performance. It’s almost like going to a sports event, players can make mistakes and things can go wrong. There’s always an energy in trying to get it right.”
Bott believes music connects generations and he hopes residents attend concerts, make a donation to their local arts groups and support the musicians in their families. For more information, visit WestJordanSymphony.org.
“I just feel it’s so important to have that cultural identity and that shared experience in this area. Music is somewhere you can learn about different cultures and histories,” he said. “I’m of the opinion that any arts organization is important. It’s important for people to experience these musical artifacts from history.” λ