Mahler’s Second Brings Season to a Breathtaking Close, While Celebrating John Alexander
In true fashion, Pacific Symphony ends its 2016-17 season with a concert designed to make a lasting impression. In the spotlight is Mahler’s epic Second Symphony, in which the composer ponders nothing less than life, death and transcendence—and in so doing pens some of his most sublime music. Meditating on these questions required Mahler to compose the largest symphony ever known at that time—with massive instrumental and vocal forces, daring harmonic structure and expansive length—all to astonishing effect. As the composer once said, “The term ‘symphony’ means creating a world with all the technical means available.” Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, this spectacular masterpiece is performed in celebration of local luminary John Alexander’s remarkable 45-year tenure as artistic director of Pacific Chorale.
“Our final concert of this season coincides with the final concert we will do in John Alexander’s long and illustrious tenure with the Pacific Chorale,” states Maestro St.Clair. “This was a must! The fact that this is his final season is in part why we did ‘Aida’ earlier in the season and are closing with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2—in honor of this great talent,” says St.Clair. “What better work than Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ to share with our dear friend John?"
Featuring world-class soloists, soprano Mary Wilson and mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, as well as the mighty Pacific Chorale, “Resurrection!” takes place Thursday through Saturday, June 8-10, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. (See additional story for Sunday matinee.) A preview talk with Alan Chapman begins at 7 p.m. The concert is performed without intermission, and there will be no Plazacast this year due to construction taking place on the new Argyros Plaza. Tickets are $25-$125 (Box Circle, $195). For more information or to purchase tickets for any performance, please call (714) 755-5799 or CLICK HERE.
“The last time we performed Mahler’s Second with Carl and the Symphony was in 2007 for the opening season of our magnificent new home in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall,” recalls Alexander, the Chorale’s long-time artistic director. “Carl is a masterful conductor of Mahler, and I cannot think of a more fitting close to our partnership over the last 27 years. I thank Carl for choosing the magnificent ‘Resurrection’ Symphony for this closing concert."
A monumental symphony on the grandest scale and—reminiscent of Beethoven’s Ninth—Mahler’s Second culminates in an exhilarating chorus that sings of man’s highest hopes and heavenly visions. The work takes the audience on an incredible journey, from death and dissolution to renewal and redemption, while encompassing nothing less than life’s greatest questions. It is the composer’s existential quest for understanding, and a true tour-de-force for the orchestra, singers and audience alike.
Mahler’s sense of drama in music is an essential complement to his ability to explore large ideas in a way that suspends time, and we hear this in abundance in his Symphony No. 2. He surrounds the audience with sound that is magisterial yet sensuous—tense, languorous and triumphant by turns. Though this symphony was catalyzed by the death of a friend and colleague, its music is actually a joyful affirmation... a radiant musical account of life triumphant.
“We didn’t do any Mahler last season, and I just can’t fathom going another season without something by him for our musicians and our audience,” reflects St.Clair. “When planning the end of our season, I am always looking for those works that can sustain everyone’s excitement and enjoyment through the summer and will hold our ‘family’ together in anticipation of the opening concert of the following season. Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 is just such a masterwork. It is a breathtaking way to conclude the season and a sure way to stay in everyone’s heart."