Conner Gray Covington, a Blount County native, recently was appointed as principal conductor for the Deer Valley Music Festival’s 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Covington, who serves as the associate conductor of the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, will conduct nine concerts as part of the summer festival season, including a collaboration with the Indigo Girls, as well as performances of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto” and a live score of the classic film “E.T. The Extra-terrestrial.”
Covington, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Russ Covington of Maryville and Mr. and Mrs. Dick Bowers of Nashville, attended Maryville City Schools through his sophomore year, studying under local conductor and orchestral music educator Bill Robinson, among others, before transferring to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.
“I know I speak for the whole organization in saying how proud we are of the impact Conner has achieved during his time to date with Utah Symphony,” Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President and CEO Paul Meecham said in a press release. “His charisma, presence and leadership has left a lasting impression with each audience he comes in contact with, whether it’s the thousands of school children who experience the thrill of live orchestral music through our education programs or regular patrons attending classical, pops, films in concert and a myriad of other performances. We look forward eagerly to Conner’s expanded presence at the Deer Valley Music Festival.”
“I am thrilled to be named principal conductor of the Deer Valley Music Festival for the next two summers,” Covington added. “I have had so many wonderful opportunities so far during my tenure here in Utah, and I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received from Maestro Fischer, the musicians and the staff. It is truly a pleasure working with this wonderful orchestra and organization, and I look forward to many exciting performances to come.”
Covington began his tenure with the Utah Symphony as assistant conductor in September 2017 and assumed greater responsibilities in the role of associate conductor starting in September 2018. He previously served as the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, assistant conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. His first appearance with the Utah Symphony was as a guest conductor for a chamber concert at the 2017 Deer Valley Music Festival.
The following summer, he conducted five concerts during the 2018 festival with highlights including a Utah Symphony performance with Broadway star Sutton Foster; Benjamin Beilman performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto; Canteloube’s “Chants d’Auvergne” with soprano Sarah Shafer; and Dvorák’s “Czech Suite.”
“Conner has demonstrated a strong commitment to the orchestra and incredible growth over the past few seasons in his role as associate conductor,” said Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer. “I’m pleased that he is able to take on this additional responsibility during the summer season and am confident that the orchestra will continue to benefit from his influence.”
In addition to the Deer Valley Music Festival performances, he conducts nearly 100 Utah Symphony concerts each season with a diverse schedule including education and community outreach, classical, pops, films and family concerts. Covington’s contract is scheduled to go through the end of the 2019-20 season.
Awards and honors include 2019, 2017 and 2014 Career Assistance Awards from the Solti Foundation U.S.; being invited as one of three conductors to participate in the 2015 Pacific Music Festival Conducting Academy in Sapporo, Japan; and being featured as a conductor in the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview presented by the League of American Orchestras.
In 2014, he was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic to attend the Salzburg Festival as a recipient of the Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors.