The Washington Chorus Closes 50th Anniversary Season with “Mostly Mahler”

The Washington Chorus Closes 50th Anniversary Season with “Mostly Mahler” in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall
 
 
Mahler 50th
Mahler 50th
 
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March 28, 2011 - PRLog -- Washington, D.C. -- Grammy® Award winner The Washington Chorus (TWC) will close its 50th Anniversary Season with a gala concert showcasing the music of Gustav Mahler.  Music Director Julian Wachner leads the huge forces of large orchestra and chorus, eight soloists, and choristers (children) from the Washington National Cathedral in Mostly Mahler -- Sunday, May 1 at 5:00 PM in the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  The concert celebrates the 50th Anniversary of The Washington Chorus and also marks the major Mahler anniversary years—the 150th year of his birth in 2010, and the 100th year since his death, in 2011.  The performance will include the first movement of Das klagende Lied, Waldmärchen (“Forest Legend”), Act III of Mahler’s completion of Weber’s opera Die drei Pintos, the sublime Rückert-Lieder No. 3, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen for 16-part a cappella chorus, and choral movements from Mahler’s Symphonies No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”), No. 3 (“Bimm Bamm”), and No. 2 (“Resurrection”).  All vocal soloists for this concert are provided by the Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program from the Wagner Society of Washington DC.
   
Gustav Mahler wrote primarily two genres of compositions: songs and symphonies.  TWC will present the full Mahler palette with vividly contrasting examples of both forms, together with excerpts from an opera completed by Mahler.  The concert will open with Veni Creator Spiritus, the triumphal first movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, which was written in the summer of 1906 in just eight weeks and which Mahler called his “greatest work.” Scored for huge orchestra, eight soloists, double choir, boys’ choir and concert organ, the piece was advertised at its first performance as “The Symphony of a Thousand,” reflecting the number of performers involved.
   
The program follows with Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck “Bimm Bamm! Es sungen drei Engel” from Mahler’s Symphony No. 3.  His Symphony No. 3 represents Man’s journey from inanimate Nature to God in heaven; in every movement--from Pan in springtime to flowers and meadows, to animals, to night, to morning bells (angels), to love-- Man asks what his surroundings “tell” him.  The “Bimm Bamm” movement, sometimes translated as What the Morning Bells (Angels) Tell Me, takes place in a utopian, merry sunshine, where children intone bell-sounds as grown-up angels sing of the Last Supper.  
   
The first half of the program concludes with a semi-staged performance of Act III of Mahler’s completion of Carl Maria von Weber’s comic opera Die drei Pintos.  Evelyn Lear, one of the twentieth century's most celebrated American opera and concert singers, will narrate.  Rarely performed today, the opera involves multiple pairs of lovers and cases of mistaken identity.  The title reflects the plot, in which the protagonist Don Pinto, a foolish country squire, is impersonated by two other characters in the course of the opera.  TWC will present the climax of the opera in Act III.
   
The second half of the program opens with the original 1879 version of the first movement of Das klagende Lied, Waldmärchen (“Forest Legend”), based on a fairytale and written when Mahler was still in his teens. Continuing and providing contrast to the huge forces of Mahler orchestration thus far in the performance, the program continues with an a cappella 16-part choral arrangement  of Mahler’s intimate Rückert-Lieder No. 3, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.
   
The final work on the program is the “Resurrection” finale of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.  The “Resurrection” is known to be Mahler's favorite symphony.  It also had the longest gestation of any of his works:  an early version was completed in 1888; middle movements were added in 1893; but it was not until 1894 that, upon hearing Friedrich Klopstock’s Aufersteh’n (“Resurrection Ode”) at the funeral of his mentor Conductor Hans von Bulow that the famous “Resurrection” finale of his Symphony “flashed upon” Mahler “like lightning.”  The vast finale, which TWC will be performing in this concert, depicts the terror and glory of the last judgment and resurrection.
   
In addition to Ms. Lear, The Washington Chorus will be joined in this concert by Colleen Daly, soprano; Karen Foster, soprano; Othalie Graham, soprano; Shannon Magee, mezzo-soprano; Jennifer Roderer, mezzo-soprano; Jeffrey Springer, tenor; Pawel Izdebski, bass; Jason Stearns, bass; and choristers from the Washington National Cathedral, Michael McCarthy, Director.  All vocal soloists for this concert are provided by the Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program from the Wagner Society of Washington DC.
   
Tickets for the concert are priced from $15-$60 and may be purchased by calling The Washington Chorus Box Office at (202) 342-6221 or ordering securely online at www.thewashingtonchorus.org.


About Julian Wachner
Music Director of The Washington Chorus, Julian Wachner is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought-after as conductor, organist and composer. In the 2009-2010 season, he made New York City Opera history having been selected as both conductor and composer at the company’s annual VOX festival of contemporary opera. In addition to his City Opera debut, Wachner regularly appears on the world’s leading stages, including engagements with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Glimmerglass Opera, Montréal Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, Portland Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Spoleto Festival USA, Music Academy of the West, Berkshire Choral Festival, Calgary Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Handel & Hayden Society, Pacific Symphony, and L’Orchestre Métropolitan du Grand Montéal. Julian Wachner’s complete catalogue of music, containing over 80 works, is published by E. C. Schirmer. Wachner’s recordings are with the Chandos, Naxos, Atma Classique, Arsis, Musica Omnia, and Titanic labels. Born in Hollywood, California, Wachner began his musical education at age four with cello and piano lessons at the University of Southern California, and studied under Gerre Hancock while a boy chorister at the St. Thomas Choir School in New York City. He earned a doctor of musical arts degree from Boston University’s School for the Arts, where his teachers included David Hoose and Lukas Foss. In July 2010 Wachner was appointed Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street, the historic Episcopal parish in Lower Manhattan.

About The Washington Chorus
Founded in 1961 as the Oratorio Society of Washington, The Washington Chorus, now under the baton of Music Director Julian Wachner, presents an annual subscription series at the Kennedy Center, the Music Center at Strathmore and other major concert venues in the greater Washington area. In addition, the Chorus frequently appears at the invitation of the National Symphony Orchestra. The Washington Chorus is noted for its stellar and critically-acclaimed performances and recordings of the entire range of the choral repertoire. TWC, under the direction of former Music Director Robert Shafer, won a Grammy® Award in 2000 for Best Choral Performance of the Year for its live- performance recording of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. In addition to its recordings, the 190- voice Chorus has been broadcast and nationally televised, and tours internationally. The Chorus considers its many education and community outreach initiatives an integral component of its mission. More information is available at http://www.thewashingtonchorus.org.

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Now in it's 50th season, The Washington Chorus is noted for its critically-acclaimed performances and recordings of the entire range of the choral repertoire.
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