Violinist plays music to 'change your life' at Powder Mountain

Thursday , July 07, 2016 - 5:00 PM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

EDEN — Being exposed to music in the public school system proved to be a success for a world-renowned violinist.

When Michelle Ross was 5 years old, she was handed a violin at school. By the time she was 10, she was a student in the pre-college program at the Juilliard School in New York City, a prestigious school for some of the best artists in the world.

For over a decade, she trained with Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman, a well-known musician who has performed all over the globe, including the White House.

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On July 15 and 17, Ross will be in Utah performing during the third annual Music in the Mountains, presented by Powder Mountain Resort and Summit Powder Mountain. She will be joined by the Utah Symphony’s principal violist Brant Bayless, violinist Areta Zhulla, cellist Brook Speltz and pianist Euntaek Kim.

“Utah is a special place to share music. It is such a beautiful area and when you combine that with the energy of the audience, it’s just a magical experience,” Ross said in a telephone interview from her home in New York City.


• WHAT: Music in the Mountains

• WHERE: Timberline Lodge at Powder Mountain, 6965 E. Powder Mountain Road, Eden 

• WHEN: 7 p.m. July 15 and 4 p.m. July 17


Ross, who is the founder and artistic director of Music in the Mountains, said her first performance at Powder Mountain was so positive she wanted the program to continue.

“I came out in 2013 during the wintertime to perform at one of the weekend events,” she said. “I had a crazy schedule but I wanted to fly to Utah for 24 hours because it sounded like a great place to share music. The response I got was so wonderful. I felt like I was really being heard and I wanted to come back and explore the potential of bringing chamber music back year after year.”

In 2014, she decided to collaborate with Powder Mountain to bring Music in the Mountains to life.

“Even though we’re in our third year, I’m still hungry to share so much more,” Ross said. “Because the audience sits so close to the musicians, the interaction is so much different than performing on a big stage. There’s really nothing more I love than playing classical music for an audience that is open and warm and curious. I’m itching to get out there.”

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This year, the music will center around the Ravel Piano Trio and Shostakovich Piano Quintet. Also featured will be works by Olivier Messiaen.

“He was a French composer who came to Bryce Canyon and was so inspired by Utah that he wrote an entire orchestra piece called ‘From the Canyons of the Stars,’ ” Ross said.

Other pieces will include those from Bach, Mozart, Dvorak and Scriabin.

“I love Bach and this fall I will be going on a 33-day journey where I will go around New York City and perform the entire solo violin cycle in free public performances,” she said. “I want to bring classical music to people who have rarely or never encountered this music before, especially outside of the concert hall. I hope to bring it to Utah and the rest of the West in the future.”

Ross is the 2012 recipient of the Leonore Anneberg Foundation Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts and just recorded her first album, the complete Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach.

J.P. Goulet, marketing coordinator for Powder Mountain, said Ross had her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 and her European debut as both soloist and conductor. She also earned a master of music from Juilliard and a bachelor’s degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University.

“We’re really excited to have two performances this year,” he said. “The first year we did the concert, we held it outside and had around 100 guests. The second year, we held it inside the Timbermine Lodge and had benches all around the artists. We had more than 200 guests and the sound inside the lodge with the old timbers from the mountains that were cut in the 1970s to make the lodge was just incredible.”

Admission to the two concerts is free.

“Putting that violin in my hand at the age of 5 was the best thing that ever happened,” Ross said. “It sparked my imagination and my soul. I hope to spark that same feeling in my audience. I want them to be able to share this incredible work of art and to be moved and want to explore more classical music. This music can reach anybody and it can change your life.”

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