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Sandy Journal

American West Symphony and Chorus of Sandy in tune with the community

Sep 08, 2022 11:15AM ● By Peri Kinder

The American West Symphony and Chorus of Sandy is ready to start its 35th season of presenting quality concerts with the intention to educate, entertain and expand appreciation for the arts. 

Charlotte Jordan is the AWSC board chair and is grateful for the support of Sandy City and the Sandy Arts Guild in helping the symphony stay vibrant and relevant for so many years.

“I don’t play an instrument but I pull the strings and help organize things,” she said. “I lost husband in 2009 and he always told me the best things in life happened to me because I volunteered. I took that to heart. [The AWSC] completely changed my life. It’s been so fantastic, especially after my loss, to be part of that family.”

Under the direction of Joel Rosenberg, the AWSC holds 13 concerts each year, performing classical and contemporary music. It is one of the few community orchestras that has a chorus, led by Ljuba Kelly, a classically-trained music educator and chorus master.

Rosenberg is a graduate of Juilliard in New York City and a recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Rome, Italy. He has conducted or performed with symphony orchestras around the world. Rosenberg will lead the orchestra’s performance on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (8575 S. 700 East) at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ll be playing five different works on this program including the famous overture by French composer Hector Berlioz, ‘Roman Carnival,’” he said. “It’s probably one of his most popular and frequently played pieces. It raises the audience to their feet almost every single time.”

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 will also be featured during the performance. “This is a larger work near the later period of his life,” Rosenberg said. “At this point, he was pretty much deaf, so as he was composing, he had to hear all of this in his head, which is just incredible.”

Rosenberg has directed the AWSC for more than 25 years and enjoys sharing the background and history on pieces the symphony performs. Educating the public is a goal of the organization which partners with other groups to reach wider audiences.

Orchestra members hold an instrument petting zoo at the Sandy Library each year, allowing children to try different instruments. It also performs with the Canyons Youth Symphony, an ensemble open to students in grades 5-9 in Canyons School District.

“They play a piece and share the music stands with the students and perform an arrangement with the youth,” Jordan said. “I love it because the parents always cry. It’s such an opportunity for these kids to perform gorgeous music.”

The AWSC is finally returning to a normal schedule after COVID closed all public performances. Even then, the orchestra found a way to bring music to Sandy by holding concerts in parks, performing a virtual concert and distributing videos of performances to senior centers in the city. 

Now, it’s back to a full schedule as the 50-member orchestra gets in the swing of things. One recent concert featured Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski as the narrator for the performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” 

“It was absolutely amazing,” Jordan said. “She actually has a great talent. She was an audience favorite. We played the music and she told the story.”

The AWSC gives musicians an outlet to practice and improve their art. It attracts people who grew up playing an instrument but never pursued a career in music. Performers of all ages are invited to consider joining the group. 

“It gives people the opportunity for self-expression in an era when there are so few opportunities for this,” Rosenberg said. “There are a lot of concerts and a lot of music which gives [performers] the chance to express themselves.”

For more information about the AWSC, visit

“Our goal is to bring the best quality of music to the residents of Sandy,” Jordan said. “They don’t have to go downtown, they can get it out their back door.”  λ