April 18, 2019

Helming his fourth season as Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest, Kenneth Woods has concocted a wide-ranging program featuring world premieres, musical influences and influencers, and a number of works being performed at MahlerFest for the first time. At the heart of MahlerFest XXXII is the premiere performance of a new Critical Edition of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 by Breitkopf & Härtel. Other themes include Beethoven’s influence on Mahler, arrangements by Mahler and other composers who interconnected throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and their legacies that have lasted to this day. All events take place in Boulder, Colorado from May 15 – May 19, 2019.

On Sunday, May 19, Woods will conduct the Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra in the world-premiere performance of a new Critical Edition of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 by Breitkopf & Härtel, the oldest music publishing house in the world which celebrates its 300th anniversary this year. This premiere is in accordance with the 32-year old Festival’s ethos of being at the forefront of Mahler scholarship and performance. Among previous highlights are performances of the Tenth Symphony which Mahler left incomplete at the time of his death: the world premiere of Joseph Wheeler’s completion in 1997, conducted by MahlerFest founder Robert Olson; and the first performance of a new Deryck Cooke Performing Edition incorporating revisions by noted Mahler specialists Colin Matthews, David Matthews and Peter Wadl. With this year’s premiere performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Woods and the Colorado MahlerFest maintain their pioneering research and performances, more so than any other North American organization.

In anticipation of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, Woods and MahlerFest explore the creative links between the two trailblazing symphonists. Performances include Liszt’s solo piano transcription of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, a work from which Mahler drew inspiration for his First Symphony, on Wednesday, May 15; Mahler’s string orchestra arrangement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F minor on Saturday, May 18; and Mahler’s orchestration of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 on Sunday, May 19. The tradition of inserting the ‘Leonore’ Overture in the second act of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio is attributed to Mahler during his time as director of the Vienna State Opera.

The age-old practice of arranging is a recurring theme throughout MahlerFest XXXII. On Saturday, May 18, the inaugural concert of the MahlerFest Chamber Orchestra will feature two arrangements by Arnold Schoenberg – of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Emperor Waltz, and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with baritone Joshua DeVane. Also on the program are Mahler’s arrangement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F minor, and – bringing the tradition up to date - Kenneth Woods’ own string orchestra version of Viktor Ullmann’s String Quartet No. 3.

MahlerFest XXXII will explore many influences that shaped Mahler’s musical language, and composers that he in turn influenced.

A chamber music concert on Wednesday, May 15 features the Phantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings composed by a 14-year-old Benjamin Britten, who considered Mahler one of the most important influences on his music. Britten would go on to give the first performance of the discarded “Blumine” movement from Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 since Mahler’s time, and also make a notable chamber orchestra arrangement of the second movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. Also on the program are Liszt’s piano arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, and the Violin Sonata in E minor by Edward Elgar, widely considered to be a kindred spirit of Mahler.

For the first time in its three-decade history, MahlerFest presents a work by Mahler’s friend and mentor, Anton Bruckner, whose sense of scale and grandeur had a lasting impression on Mahler. On Friday, May 17, featured Festival artists will perform Bruckner’s String Quintet in F major, alongside two late works by Holocaust-era composer Hans Krása – Tanec and Passcaglia and Fuga.

Hans Krása was a contemporary and friend of Viktor Ullmann who acknowledged inspiration from Mahler. Both young, Jewish composers of the post-Mahler generation were interred by the Nazis in Theresienstadt where they wrote their late works shortly before their deaths in Auschwitz in 1944.

Child prodigy Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s star was already in the ascendant during Mahler’s last years in Vienna (the younger composer’s father was a leading music critic when Mahler was Director of Vienna State Opera, 1897 – 1907). As a result of the Nazi uprising he was exiled to America where he wrote his Violin Concerto, which will be performed on Sunday, May 19 by soloist Zoë Beyers and Woods conducting the Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra. Also on this program – the “Stan Ruttenberg Memorial Concert” – is the premiere performance of the new Critical Edition of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Mahler’s orchestration of Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3.

In addition to the musical offerings, MahlerFest XXXII hosts its annual day-long symposium bringing together some of the world’s most eminent Mahler scholars and experts. This year’s event, on Saturday, May 18, features University of Denver professor Jack Sheinbaum discussing Fin-de-Siècle Musical Culture and its influence on Mahler’s Symphony No. 1; Kenneth Woods on the challenges of conducting Mahler’s First; cultural commentator Peter Davison exploring the suffering Mahler endured as a child and its effects on his music; and Colorado Mahlerfest member of the board David Auerbach revealing moments of Mahler in the media. The day concludes with the popular annual screening of a film by Andy Sommers, Mahler: Autopsy of a Genius, which includes rare, archival commentary from notable Mahlerians such as Henry-Louis de la Grange, Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein and Thomas Hampson.

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For further information about Kenneth Woods please visit https://kennethwoods.net/blog1

For further information about the Colorado MahlerFest XXXII, please visit https://mahlerfest.org/

For further information, image, interview or ticket requests please contact Melanne Mueller, MusicCo International, +1 917 907 2785 or +44 (0) 7788 662 461, melanne@musiccointernational.com

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