Grant Park Orchestra | Harris Theater | Classical | Chicago Reader

Grant Park Orchestra Recommended Member Picks Free Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m. and Sat., Aug. 8, 7:30 p.m. 2009

Leonard Bernstein described the end of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony as “the closest we have ever come, in any work of art, to experiencing the very act of dying.” Mahler’s final completed work is an overwhelming journey, filled with nostalgia, apprehension, conflict, and finally resignation. His writing, constantly turning on itself, is never free of struggle. By spanning his emotional spectrum with the same thematic material—a first-movement gentle breeze becomes a violent storm, a second-­movement peasant dance turns grotesque—Mahler creates tension that miraculously holds everything together. His astounding orchestration is sparse and transparent at times, thunderous and turbulent at others. In the last-­movement adagio, where Mahler embraces life as he gives it up, ensemble and conductor are strained to the limit—Carlos Kalmar will need all of his inspiration and control. Thankfully, he’s bringing the Grant Park Orchestra indoors for this symphony, whose conclusion often leaves audiences sitting in stunned silence. —Steve Langendorf


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