October 14, 2011

Make This Your Year to Discover Mahler!

Don’t miss the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s first performances of Gustav Mahler’s colossal “Resurrection” Symphony since 1985. The RPO’s new Music Director Arild Remmereit conducts this masterwork with the Eastman-Rochester Chorus on Thursday, October 20 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, October 22 at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.
This marks the first in a series of Mahler works that Arild plans to bring to the RPO, including Mahler’s Fourth Symphony next January. The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra will also be playing Mahler this season, and with great anticipation, RPYO Manager Susan Basu has prepared the following introduction to the music of Gustav Mahler:

“We have an extraordinary opportunity this year—the 100th anniversary of his untimely death at the age of 51—to get to know the great orchestral music of Gustav Mahler. In addition to the two symphonies on the RPO season, you will have a chance to hear the Youth Orchestra perform movements from two other Mahler symphonies—the breathtaking Adagietto from Symphony No. 5 on its November concert and, together with the RPO, the dramatic finale from Symphony No. 1 on its March Side-by-Side concert. Perhaps never before in Rochester has there been such a conjunction of Mahler favorites in one season!

“Arild Remmereit lived in Vienna for 25 years before coming to Rochester this August. Vienna was Mahler’s city during the late 1800s, where he commanded much of the city’s musical life as director of the Vienna Opera and as an exciting orchestra conductor and strikingly innovative composer. Our new maestro breathed in Mahler’s music from his time in the conservatories, concert halls, and neighborhoods of the city. He knows Mahler’s musical language intimately and, even more important, knows how to share that knowledge with his orchestra musicians and audiences.

“Not so long ago, I had the misimpression that Mahler’s music was largely dense, loud, brassy, confusing, and long—and I avoided it. Big mistake! Yes, those elements are there. But more important are vast sections of great delicacy, soaring lyricism, heart-searing pathos, and expressions of the triumph of the human spirit. As we find with many artistic creations of the highest order, understanding and appreciation does not come all at once. It may require time, patience, and repeated exposure. When that is possible, we often discover new worlds of thought, feeling, and expression. That might happen for you with Mahler’s music.

“Composing at the time of Freud in Vienna, Mahler absorbed that period’s new awareness of human psychology and the whirlwind of emotions that lie under the surface in our sub-conscious minds. It was also a time of growing fractures in European politics and society. Some critics believe that this extraordinary artist, born in the mid-19th century, anticipated in his music the repeated turmoil—personal and cultural as well as political—that tore though the 20th century.

“It may require a few hearings to adjust to Mahler’s very personal way of juxtaposing contrasting musical statements and emotions. They may not always make logical sense. But that turns out to be one of the sources of its powerful and profound impact. He wrote music the way we actually experience our emotions and impressions—not always smoothly but often in sudden and intense transitions from one mood to another. 

“My route of entry into Mahler’s music was in part through his wonderful songs, a large collection of melodies and lyrics that he had both collected and adapted from German folk music and composed himself. Many of these songs he later incorporated into the symphonies that you will hear this season. His very accessible Symphony No. 2 that the RPO will perform on October 20 and 22 is an ideal way for you to begin your musical journey with Mahler.”

Use this link to view a video of the London Symphony Orchestra performing the first movement of Mahler's Second Symphony. Tickets for this weekend’s RPO concerts start at $15. Call 454-2100 or click here to purchase online.
Use this link for more information on the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra season.

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