MahlerFest 2024 explores connections  | Sharps & Flatirons


Mountains, friendship, and wide-ranging influences celebrated

By Peter Alexander Might 14 at 1 p.m.

Colorado MahlerFest 2024 involves Boulder this week, but it surely may supply a bit greater than you count on.

Based in 1988 to deliver Mahler’s music to Boulder and the Entrance Vary, lately it has expanded its programming manner past one Austrian composer of massive symphonies. And this yr, the programming is so various—Mahler, Richard Strauss, Schubert, Schoenberg . . . and Jimi Hendrix?—that you just is perhaps arduous pressed to search out the unifying component. (See the pageant occasion schedule beneath.)

Mahler within the Mountains

The title of this yr’s pageant—“Mahler and the Mountains”—solely gives a touch. However the pageant’s music director, Kenneth Woods, has the reply: “We’re making an attempt to discover the concept of connection,” he says. “‘Mahler and the Mountains’ is one crucial one. [You also have] Mahler and Richard Strauss, this concept of friendship, after which Mahler and Schubert is the opposite actually good one.”

Bringing in Hendrix may appear to be a radical departure (extra on that later), however one persevering with function of MahlerFest is the efficiency of one among Mahler’s symphonies on the ultimate live performance. This yr will probably be the Fourth Symphony on Sunday’s Stan Ruttenberg Memorial Live performance (3:30 p.m. Might 19, at Macky Auditorium). Sharing this system would be the Prelude to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 strings.

Composed 1899-1900, the Fourth has the smallest orchestra and is in some methods the only of Mahler’s symphonies. Anticipating a fancy and big work just like the Second and Third symphonies, early audiences have been disenchanted, however extra just lately the enticing melodies and the joyful finale have made the Fourth a well-liked entry level for listeners new to Mahler’s music.

“It’s such a beautiful piece, such a counterbalance to virtually every thing else he wrote,” Woods says. “It’s so classical, it’s so delicate, it’s so intimate and private, he reveals one thing on this piece that he doesn’t present wherever else. He’s branching out into a way more contrapuntal type (and) utilizing the orchestra one half at a time. It provides it that stunning transparency that’s not like something earlier than it.”

Woods says he picked the Meistersinger Prelude for this system as a result of each Mahler and Strauss have been closely influenced by Wagner, and since it options the brass part that the Fourth Symphony barely makes use of. “We wished to deliver the brass with us to the tip of the pageant,” he says. “We like our brass part!”

Kenneth Woods with theMahlerFest Orchestra. Photograph by Keith Bobo.

Much less identified than Strauss’s main tone poems and operas, Metamorphosen was one of many composer’s final items. And it’s one among Woods’s favorites. “I believe it is perhaps his biggest work,” he says. “To me, Metamorphosen is the fruits of [Strauss’s] fluidity of musical thought. I don’t  assume music might go any additional in that route.”

This yr’s MahlerFest additionally contains an orchestral live performance on Saturday (7:30 p.m. Might 18, additionally in Macky). The featured orchestral work connects Mahler, the mountains and Strauss: the Alpensinfonie (Alpine Symphony) that Strauss wrote, partly as a memorial to Mahler. This piece is one other of Wooden’s favorites, though he has by no means performed it earlier than. “I’ve been making an attempt to get an opportunity to conduct this piece for so long as I can keep in mind,” he says. “I’ve been instructed ‘No!’ by orchestra managers extra instances for Alpine Symphony than for another piece.”

Alphorns. Photograph by Christo Vlahos.

The issue is that the Alpine Symphony not solely requires an enormous orchestra, operating up the prices for organizations that carry out it, it additionally contains alphorns in E-flat which are particularly arduous to search out. These are the lengthy, curved, picket trumpet-like devices related to the Swiss Alps. As a result of they haven’t any valves, they can’t be transposed. Fortuitously, MahlerFest’s supplier of alphorns, Salzburger Echo, was in a position to provide correctly pitched alphorns on the final minute in order that the pageant didn’t should improvise an answer. 

“MahlerFest is the proper place to do (the Alpine Symphony),” Woods says. “To do it right here with the Rockies within the background is simply magical. It’s an incredible piece, with a powerful connection to Mahler. (Strauss) had the concept of one thing Alpine for over 10 years, but it surely was solely after Mahler died that he began writing as type of an homage.”

Richard Strauss and Mahler, 1908

Mahler cherished the mountains and infrequently hiked within the alps. Strauss’s rating describes such an tour, together with a thunderstorm on the summit, however Woods says it stands for way more. “It’s a transparent metaphor for the arc of life,” he says, “that striving that it takes to get to a summit, and the truth that none of us get to remain there—all of us have to come back down ultimately.”

Filling out this system is one other piece standing for Mahler’s connections to different composers:  his association for full string orchestra of Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor, often called “Loss of life and the Maiden.” Woods factors out that preparations of chamber music, and particularly string quartets, for bigger ensembles have been widespread within the early twentieth century.

“Mahler was in that technology, submit Wagner, the place every thing is getting greater and larger,” he explains. “He will get the concept to take some string quartets and prepare them for giant string orchestra. It makes it into a special piece in a manner and divulges totally different elements of the piece. I’m an enormous fan of (preparations), and Mahler was, too.”

Different preparations featured earlier within the pageant should not bigger, however smaller than the unique. Throughout and after World Battle I, musical assets have been strained, and composers have been writing items for smaller and smaller teams, like Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony (1917) and Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat (Soldier’s Story, 1924). Arnold Schoenberg and others began making chamber preparations of symphonies and different massive orchestral items by Mahler. 

Richard Strauss

Wednesday’s opening night time live performance (7:30 p.m. Might 15 at Mountain View Methodist Church) will embrace a number of of these Mahler preparations, together with actions from the Fourth Symphony, in addition to with a chamber model of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Richard Strauss’s revered 4 Final Songs. On Thursday, a free live performance on the Boulder Public Library Canyon Theater will function the MahlerFest Brass Quintet taking part in authentic works for brass and, sure, a Mahler association.

Friday night (Might 17) brings probably the most outré a part of MahlerFest, together with the works furthest faraway from Mahler’s orbit. There might be two performances that night on the Roots Music Undertaking, 4747 Pearl St. in Boulder. The primary efficiency, at 7 p.m., will function string gamers from the MahlerFest Orchestra and the Tallā Rouge Duo, a Persian-Cajun fusion viola duo.

The centerpiece of this system might be Schoenberg’s string sextet Verklärte Nacht—a deeply Romantic and descriptive piece nonetheless properly inside Mahler’s orbit. The remainder of this system will comprise varied ethnic-oriented items by Hawaiian/Kanaka Maoli composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, people/jazz violinist Karl Mitze, and bluesy fiddle items by African-American composer Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.

Beginning at 9 p.m., the night’s second occasion strays furthest from Mahler and the late nineteenth century, and brings us again to Jimi Hendrix. Titled “Electrical Liederabend: Hendrix Meets Mahler,” the efficiency will juxtapose one among America’s most inventive rock musicians with the composer of massive symphonies . 

Woods will showcase his electrical guitar and arranging abilities, performing his personal variations of Mahler—or no less than music derived from Mahler—with a small combo. His 9 Causes: A Meditation on Mahler’s Ninth Symphony will open this system, which additionally contains his association of music from Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Mahler’s Der Abschied (The farewell).

Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix has his personal place on this system, with “Machine Gun” and “Up from the Skies.” There isn’t a point out of “Purple Haze,” however Woods says there might at all times be an encore. “‘Purple Haze’ is the primary tune I realized on the guitar,” he says. “Once I acquired my first electrical, I purchased the ‘Learn how to Play Jimi Hendrix’ e book, and ‘Purple Haze’ was the primary one I realized.”

Whereas Hendrix as soon as talked about Mahler as an affect, to most listeners there’s little apparent musical connection between them. Nonetheless, Woods likes to look deeper into the personalities of the 2 artists. “I wished to showcase Jimi’s later growth a bit bit extra, as he acquired extra into the metaphysics and extra difficult musical concepts,” he says.

And within the symphonic world, metaphysics and complexity naturally result in Mahler.

A full schedule of occasions, together with workshops, open rehearsals and pre-concert discussions, with artists’ bios and hyperlinks for gross sales for ticketed occasions, is obtainable on the MahlerFest Net web page.

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“Mahler & the Mountains”
Mahlerfest 37

Opening Night time: “Visions of Childhood”
MahlerFest Chamber Orchestra, Kenneth Woods, conductor
With April Fredrick, soprano, and David Taylor, bass trombone

  • Mahler: Mahlerei, Concertino for bass trombone and chamber orchestra, arr. Schnyder/Horowitz (from Symphony No 4, Scherzo)
  • Richard Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder (4 final songs), arr. Ledger
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 4, First motion, arr. Kenneth Woods
  • Wagner: Siegfried Idyll, arr. Woods
  • Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel, “Der kleine Sandmann” (The little sandman) and “Abendsegen” (Night blessing), arr. Woods
  • Schubert: Die Forelle (The trout), tune and variations, arr. Woods
  • Mahler: Des Knaben Wonderhorn, Das irdische Leben (The earthly life), arr. Woods
  • Schubert: Der Tod und das Mädchen (Loss of life and the maiden), tune and variations, arr. Woods
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 4, Fourth motion, arr. Stein

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Might 15
Mountain View United Methodist Church, Boulder

Mountains of Brass
MahlerFest Orchestra Brass Quintet
Daniel Kelly and Richard Adams, trumpet; Lydia Van Dreel, horn; Lucas Borges, trombone; and Jesse Orth, tuba

  • Anthony Barfield: Gravity
  • David LeRoy Biller: Little Piece for Brass Quintet (world premiere)
  • Victor Ewald: Quintet No. 3 in D-flat
  • Mahler: Die zwei blauen Augen (The 2 blue eyes), arr. Michael Drennan
  • Jimi Hendrix: “Angel,” arr. David LeRoy Biller
  • Joan Tower: Copperware
  • Morley Calvert: “Suite from the Monteregian Hills”

3 p.m. Thursday, Might 16
Canyon Theater, Boulder Public Library

Transfigured Night time: Schoenberg & Extra

Members of MahlerFest Orchestra and Tallā Rouge Duo
Alan Snow, Caroline Chin and Sophia Szokolay, violin; Lauren Spalding and Aria Cheregosha, viola; Kenneth Woods and Parry Harp, cello

  • Karl Mitze: Seesaw
  • Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti: Silhouette, Mirror
  • Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Blue/s Types
    Louisiana Blues Strut
  • Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night time)

7 p.m. Friday, Might 17
Roots Music Undertaking, 4747 Pearl St., V3A, Boulder

Electrical Liederabend: Hendrix Meets Mahler
Kenneth Woods, guitar and vocals; David LeRoy Biiler, bass and guitar; Michael Karcher-Younger, bass and drums; Michael Baker, drums

  • Mahler: 9 Causes: A Meditation on Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, arr. Woods
  • Woods: Life/Time
  • Elgar: Malvern Hills Melancholy, arr. Woods from the Cello Concerto in E minor
  • Jimi Hendrix: “Machine Gun”
    —“Up from the Skies/Third stone from the Solar”
  • Mahler: Der Abschied (The farewell), arr. Woods

9 p.m. Friday, Might 17
Roots Music Undertaking, 4747 Pearl St., V3A, Boulder

Audio system: Jeremy Barham, Joseph Horowitz, Aaron Cohen, Matthew Mugmon, Nick Pfefferkorn and Kenneth Woods

9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday, Might 18
Mountain View United Methodist Church
FREE and live-streamed on YouTube

Strauss and Schubert
MahlerFest Orchestra, Kenneth Woods, conductor

  • Schubert: String Quartet in D minor (“Loss of life and the Maiden”), arr. Mahler
  • Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie, op. 64

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Might 18
Macky Auditorium

Stan Ruttenberg Memorial Live performance
MahlerFest Orchestra, Kenneth Woods, conductor
With April Fredrick, soprano

  • Wagner: Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
  • Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G main

3:30 p.m. Sunday, Might 19
Macky Auditorium

Tickets for the total pageant or particular person ticketed occasions obtainable HERE

CORRECTIONS: The unique model of this story said that MahlerFest had to make use of extensions to pitch the alphorns within the correct key. After this story was written, the pageant was in a position to receive horns pitched in E-flat, as mirrored within the later model of the story. And resulting from an modifying error, the Friday night time live shows (Might 17) have been initially listed within the article as going down on Thursday, Might 16. Sharpsandflatirons regrets the error.


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