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THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR JAN 7 - 13 

Midway Ice Castles, The Unfinished Fight of Seldom Seen Sleight, Jennifer Pharr Davis, and more.

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Midway Ice Castles
There's still a long, cold stretch of winter ahead as we blaze into this new year, and it's going to be easy to start feeling house-bound. Outdoor, family activities in the Utah winter are few and far between, but if you've never before taken the opportunity to experience the Midway Ice Castles, this tenth anniversary year might be the ideal time to bundle up the whole crew for a magical experience.

The concept was born when Utah resident and founder Brent Christensen built an ice cave for his daughter at their Alpine home, and the spot became a minor tourist attraction. In 2011, Christensen took that idea to Midway, and has since expanded it to additional locations in Colorado, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Each ice castle is hand built by artists who grow thousands of icicles daily, harvest them and sculpt them into existing ice structures. The process takes two months to complete, resulting in a work of ice art covering nearly an acre and weighing more than 25 million pounds. The icy edifices include thrones, slides and tunnels, as well as areas lit by synchronized LED lights to add another level of imagination to the creations.

Ticket prices vary depending on day of visit, ranging from $9.99-$12.99 for children 11 and under, and $13.99-$19.99 for adults. Midway Ice Castles opening and operating dates are always weather dependent, so visit icecastles.com for additional information and to make reservations. Give your seasonal doldrums a kick in the pants with a few hours where ice is particularly nice. (Scott Renshaw)

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The Unfinished Fight of Seldom Seen Sleight
What can turn an old-school conservative into a radical environmentalist? It might be watching the place where you grew up submerged under water, as happened to Ken Sleight when Glen Canyon was buried under the newly-created Lake Powell in the 1960s. The destruction of such a place of natural and archaeological beauty confounded him. As he observes in the trailer to the documentary The Unfinished Fight of Seldom Seen Sleight, "Would you flood the Sistine Chapel?"

Chris Simon and Susette Weisheit's 45-minute documentary—an official selection of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival and DocUtah—explores the legend and the truth behind Ken Sleight, long-assumed to be the inspiration for the activist troublemaker Seldom Seen in his old friend Edward Abbey's book The Monkey Wrench Gang. Capturing Sleight now in his 90s and still making good trouble, The Unfinished Fight of Seldom Seen Sleight looks at the circumstances that radicalized him into someone who would make himself into a human barricade against bulldozers. Featuring interviews with Sleight himself, as well as fellow activists like Tim DeChristopher, the film also includes rare, never-before-seen footage of Glen Canyon as it was before the creation of Lake Powell

You can join Utah Film Center's livestream screening of The Unfinished Fight of Seldom Seen Sleight on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at utahfilmcenter.org. Like all Utah Film Center events, it's free, but your support of the organization's activities is always welcome. Join in for a fascinating bit of Utah history, and a profile of an even more fascinating local character. (SR)

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Jennifer Pharr Davis
The circumstances of 2020 found a lot of people wanting to get out into the open air through outdoor activities. Whether you're a newcomer or a veteran to finding yourself on long walks, you'll find something fascinating when author and long-distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis makes a virtual visit through the Park City Library on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at noon as part of the library's "Action Book Club" program.

Davis has become best know through her association with the Appalachian Trail, which she hiked to completion for the first time in 2005, and eventually in 2011 set the fastest known time (since broken) for hiking the Appalachian Trail. In addition, she has written guidebooks on hiking in the North Carolina area, and served as a board member for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Her achievements have brought her recognition as National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year and a featured spot in the IMAX documentary America's Wild, as she has completed long-distance hikes including the Pinhoti Trail, the Mountains to Sea Trail, Western Australia's Bibbulmun Track, Iceland's Laugavegur Trail and Spain's G11—the latter two while in the later months of a pregnancy.

In her 2018 book The Pursuit of Endurance, Davis discusses the hows and whys behind her relationship with long-distance hiking, including training methods and lessons learned along her many trails. She brings that gift as a storyteller to her Zoom conversation this week, which will include both readings and tales of her journeys, and an opportunity for guests to ask questions. Visit ParkCityLibrary.org/calendar for link to the webinar. (SR)

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Utah Symphony: Mendelsohn's "Scottish" Symphony
Art finds inspiration in a wide variety of places—from elation to grief, from love to death. In the wake of one of the most challenging years most of us have faced in our lifetimes, it seems fitting for Utah Symphony to turn for its first virtual performance of 2021 to a pair of works with literal ruins as their inspiration, in a musical exploration of what comes next after things are destroyed.

The 70-minute program consists of two major works. Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen was created near the end of the composer's life, in 1945, and is believed to have been inspired in part by the destruction of multiple symphony and opera houses during the bombing at the end of World War II, including the Munich Hoftheatre. A few days after completing Metamorphosen, Strauss wrote in his diary, "The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the 12-year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany's 2,000 years of cultural evolution met its doom." The program closes with Felix Mendelsohn's Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish"), which was itself inspired by a visit to the Holyrood ruins in Scotland ca. 1829. Its triumphant feel evokes a sense of victory over devastation—an idea that we can all certainly get behind right now.

Israeli conductor Asher Fisch makes his Utah Symphony debut leading these two works, bringing to bear his expertise in the Romantic and post-Romantic eras in German composition. Availability begins Jan. 9 through Feb. 7 on a pay-what-you-can basis (minimum $20), at utahsymphony.org. (SR)

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