on September 24, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Jefferson Symphony opens season with ‘transforming experience’

Jefferson Symphony opens season with ‘transforming experience’

Once in a while, I get a chance to bring you a real insider’s perspective on an upcoming event. Sometimes I’m participating in it and other times I may be in close contact with those who are.

It just so happens that the conductor of the Jefferson Symphony, Dr. Bill Morse, is also the pianist in my Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. So I have been talking with him a lot about the symphony’s season-opener concert –; and it’s going to be something special. The orchestra will be performing one of classical music’s most notoriously complex compositions, Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5 in C# Minor.”

The concert will be on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 3 p.m. in the Green Center on the Colorado School of Mines campus. Tickets run $ 25 for adults, $ 20 for seniors, $ 10 for students and $ 5 for children.

Mahler was an interesting guy. He was born in what is now the Czech Republic back in 1860. Although he came from a rather modest background, he started displaying musical gifts at a young age. He studied piano and, from most accounts, was kind of a dreamer and absent-minded student in school. Music seemed to be what captured most of his attention, so his father encouraged him to audition for admission into the Vienna Conservatory of Music. He studied piano there and became quite accomplished, but also started composing and conducting.

As a composer, he studied the works of other composers and was influenced by many, rather than just picking one style to follow. Musically, he was a bit of a rebel, striving to create new and groundbreaking work. As is typical of someone producing new music, his works were considered to be “ahead of their time” and he didn’t meet with much early recognition as a composer. But eventually his genius was recognized, and he went on to become a star in the realm of classical music.

He worked primarily as a conductor during his career, in many opera companies in Europe, culminating with his position as conductor of the prestigious Vienna Court Opera. In later years, he was briefly conductor of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. He was considered to be an excellent conductor.

Working as a conductor takes a lot of time, so he couldn’t compose hundreds of works. But what he did come up with eventually became some of the most influential works in music, and which led the way to the modern classical era.

His “Symphony No. 5” is a rather unusual example of his style. It was composed in 1901-02 while he was recovering from a serious hemorrhaging incident. He had to take a couple of years off to recuperate so he spent the time in a summer villa in Austria. This gave him time to compose and he ended up writing three new symphonies. “No. 5” was the first of these and was remarkable by how emotional it was and how it focused more on melodic counterpoint than previous works. It is regarded as on of Mahler’s most conventional symphonies, but still has its peculiarities. As an example, it’s written as three movements, but actually the first and third movements each have two separate and different parts, so it’s more like five movements. It also opens up with an extremely difficult trumpet solo.

When it premiered in 1904, Mahler is reported to have said, “Nobody understood it. I wish I could have conducted its premier 50 years after my death.” But it didn’t take that long for the world to embrace it. Herbert von Karajan, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, once said that when you hear Mahler’s “No. 5” “You forget that time has passed. A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience. The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath.”

For more information or to order tickets, go to www.jeffersonsymphonyorchestra.org or call 303-278-4237. This is one concert you will thoroughly enjoy!

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