Redwood Symphony presents a musical mob of Mahler magic this July

mahler-symp-8By Ande Jacobson

This event is going to be big, so big in fact, that the Redwood Symphony’s normal home at Can᷉ada College can’t contain the excitement, or the ensemble. As a result, the San Mateo Performing Arts Center will welcome the expanded orchestra – including far more woodwinds than are usually seen, an extra brass band, two harps, a mandolin, and an organ – combined with vocals from the Masterworks Chorale, the Bay Area Festival Chorus, a renowned children’s chorus, and eight exceptional vocal soloists for one night only on Saturday, 30 July 2016. All told, over 200 musicians will grace the stage for this extravaganza. This musical mob will present Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major, nicknamed the “Symphony of a Thousand”.

Eric_Kujawsky_2004Maestro Kujawsky began rehearsals in mid-June to perfect this masterpiece for a Redwood Symphony concert rivaling past events in size and splendor. The premiere of the work required 858 singers (including 350 children) and 171 instrumentalists prompting the unsanctioned nickname that Mahler disliked. Although this concert ensemble won’t reach those proportions, it will fill the stage in glorious fashion.

The symphony was completed in August 1906, though it didn’t have its world premiere until 12 September 1910. There is conflicting information regarding how long it took Mahler to compose this work. Some sources say eight weeks. Other sources say ten weeks. The liner notes to a Chicago Symphony recording of the Mahler symphonies report that some of Mahler’s own letters indicated that he composed a portion of the work in March of that year, meaning it took him some five months to complete. What they do agree on is that Mahler was consumed by his vision of the work while he composed it in 1906, and it’s the grandest of all of his efforts.

This Mahler symphony is huge, breaking from the standard symphonic form to comprise a work broken into two related parts from very disparate sources. Part I was inspired by the Latin text of a 9th-century Christian hymn called Veni creator spiritus (“Come, Creator Spirit”). Part II was inspired by the closing scene of Goethe’s Faust and is quite a bit longer than Part I. The two are related through the common idea that love offers the power of redemption. Heavy stuff indeed, but it provides a musical gift that enthralls audiences and performers alike.

Mahler-portraitUnlike Mahler’s previous works, this symphony utilizes choral expression throughout. The voices not only convey the words of its poetic themes in the languages of its inspiration, but they also burst forth as the purest instruments that mankind has to offer. See the LA Philopedia for an artful and comprehensive description of the piece.

This event will captivate music lovers young and old, so come see and hear this wondrous work. For more information or to order tickets, visit Redwood Symphony’s presentation of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand.

What: Redwood Symphony – Special Concert – Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand

When: 30 July 2016 – Concert at 8 p.m.; Pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.

Where: San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 North Delaware Street, San Mateo, CA

Tickets: redwoodsymphony.org

Additional references:
Mahler: Symphony No. 8 / Kindertotenlieder ~ Bernstein
Mahler: His Life and Music (Naxos Books)

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