21 Nov 2017

20 questions with Conner Gray Covington

The Utah Symphony orchestra is like a family—so naturally, we want to know everything we can when we get a new addition. Conner Gray Covington is our new Assistant Conductor, and it’s his first season with us. He took the time to answer a flurry of questions—here’s what he had to tell us:
What instrument do you play?
Violin and a little bit of piano.
Where did you study?
The University of Texas at Arlington, the Eastman School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music.
Who’s your favorite composer?
I can never choose one, but a few are Mozart, Dvorak, and Richard Strauss (and I’m still leaving off SO many).
What’s your favorite movie?
I really like Shine with Geoffrey Rush. Also, To Kill a Mockingbird is a real classic. Gregory Peck was amazing.
What music are you listening to currently?
It changes constantly. However, the past year or so, I’ve been very interested in old recordings of standard orchestral and operatic repertoire. For instance, I was listening to several recordings the other day of the Prelude to Act I of Wagner’s Lohengrin. I came across some great performances conducted by Abbado, Furtwängler, and Maazel. They were all very different but very beautiful in their own way.
What’s your favorite color?
Growing up it was always blue, but somedays I feel like I prefer green. I guess it depends on my mood.
Favorite thing to do on the weekend?
I love sleeping in and having a big breakfast.
Cat person or dog person?
I love all animals, but I’m more of a dog person.
Favorite thing about Utah?
The mountains! And of course, skiing in them.
Favorite place to eat in Utah?
I haven’t been to too many places yet, but the Red Iguana is pretty incredible. I lived in Texas for 6 years, so I feel like I have very high standards for good Mexican food. The Red Iguana definitely meets and surpasses those standards.
What are you most excited to conduct this year?
I’m excited about a lot of programs, but I might be most excited about the Messiah Sing-in. This will be my first opportunity to conduct the whole piece, and it is such a masterpiece!
Biggest pet peeve?
Definitely wasted time or when I feel like someone is wasting other peoples’ time because of a lack of preparation
What do you miss the most about your hometown?
Probably the mountains. I grew up in east Tennessee near the Smokey Mountains. They are definitely not as imposing or striking as the Rockies, but there is a real peacefulness to them.
 What is one thing that you can’t live without?
The opportunity to spend time outdoors and in nature.
If you had to play a different instrument, what would it be?
Definitely the cello. If I could go back, that’s the instrument I would pick.
If you could have any other non-musical job in the world, what would it be?
I would probably be a lawyer. I think I would find Constitutional law particularly fascinating. Also, I love to argue!
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m actually a pretty decent cook. I grew up watching the Food Network a lot.
You can only eat one food for the rest of your life—what is it?
Probably potato chips.
You’re stranded indefinitely on a desert island and you can only bring three books to keep you entertained—what are they?
The Count of Monte Cristo, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and something by Shakespeare (perhaps Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet).
If you were to win an Olympic gold medal, which sport would it be for?
Probably the 5,000-meter run. I used to be a pretty decent distance runner in middle school and high school. Either that or downhill skiing.