2024 SAU Parent Teacher Convention

"Connecting Utah's Music Communities"
SAU Parent Teacher Convention
January 20, 2024

The 2024 SAA's Conference has the theme "Expanding and Connecting Communities." As a way to build off of those ideas, the Suzuki Association of Utah decided to title this year's convention "Connecting Utah's Music Communities." You'll see that the keynote as well as the different presenters are from all over Utah. We're looking forward to learning together from some wonderful teachers and professionals who work all over in our area.



Keynote: Lucas Darger, Conductor

Now in his eighth year with the Southwest Symphony, Maestro Darger is honored to continue to work with this amazing group of musicians and be part of this community. The Symphony has flourished with his leadership and continues to reach for new heights every season. The Symphony has won the “Best of State” award for the past 5 years in a row, and in June Darger was featured in St George Lifestyle Magazine as one of five influential people “making a difference” in the community.

The orchestra performs very diverse repertoire, with a range that includes the venerated masterworks of Mozart and Beethoven, the movie soundtracks of John Williams and Hans Zimmer, and the hits of Billy Joel and Aretha Franklin. In 2021 the orchestra recorded a special concert for national TV with Marie Osmond, and in 2023 recorded a soon-to-be released video featuring Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in the spectacular red rocks of Southern Utah. This season, Maestro Darger and the Symphony collaborated with symphonies all across the country and will participate in the 50-state premier of Peter Boyer’s Rhapsody in Red, White, and Blue on a concert that will celebrate American Composers on the 100 th anniversary of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Darger has also been a huge advocate in helping the Symphony find a home, and is a founding board member of the Southern Utah Performing Arts Foundation—a group that has been instrumental in getting the funds to renovate the Cox Auditorium. This project is expected to break ground in 2024, and is expected to fix the acoustics, add lobby and reception space, modernize the building and equipment, and add balcony seating. Most importantly, it will provide the Symphony with a guaranteed, state-of-the art facility to perform in for years to come.

Maestro Darger began his journey with conducting when he was only sixteen years old as the Assistant Conductor for the All City Children’s Orchestra. He continued to study conducting while pursuing a degree in Violin Performance, studying conducting with Dr. Robert Baldwin and violin with David Park, and at the same time conducting the Lincoln Youth Symphony. He went on to earn a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Iowa. There he conducted both the Philharmonic Orchestra and the UI String Orchestra, and studied conducting with William LaRue Jones. While in Iowa he played professionally with several area orchestras as well as freelancing for several touring acts, including Wayne Newton and the Mannheim Steamroller.

After graduating, Darger received a conducting fellowship at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine, where he studied with the late Michael Jinbo. Afterwards he moved to Texas where he joined the Valley Symphony Orchestra, and conducted the South Texas Youth Symphony. The Youth Symphony went from a small group to being so large it needed to split into two different orchestras, each performing at an elite level.

As someone who loves the mountains and the outdoors, when the opportunity came to move to Southern Utah he jumped at the chance. He loves teaching young musicians and maintains a thriving violin studio here, and loves getting out whenever he’s able to mountain bike on the incredible trails of Southern Utah.