One symphony stands alone enfolding the hall and those within it. The deeply emotional, majestically beautiful Mahler Ninth. Encompassing the entire evening, even as many people feel it encompasses an entire life. The composer’s. Yours.  

For the first time in more than 20 years, the Omaha Symphony embraces the multi-faceted challenge, Music Director Thomas Wilkins conducting.

Program annotator Paul Schiavo delves into the interior. He says that the psychological overtones “seem so complex, so endlessly rich, as to be almost beyond full fathoming.….Like a  many-faceted prism whose refractions change with every angle from which it is approached…not with a sense that its mysteries have been fully revealed.”

The entire work is often defined as expressing Mahler’s feelings about the proximity of his own death. Mahler spoke of writing it in the countryside, “ I feel marvelous…this is a delight I’ve never known till now…I feel myself getting better every moment.”

Composer Alban Berg saw in the first movement “ an expression of an exceptional fondness for the earth…the longing to live in peace on it to enjoy nature to its depths.” But whatever Mahler felt or  perhaps wanted to tell us in the entire work, he also made it clear that he preferred listeners to find their own meanings.  “No music is worth anything when the listener must be instructed as to what to experience,” he once stated.  

Like Schiavo, you may experience song-like serenity, dark moments which turn stormy, wry delight in the rustic Ländler dance movement, follow along an almost surreal march and move into a hymn-like passage arriving at “one of the most extraordinary and moving conclusions in symphonic literature.”   

Mahler indeed often contemplated mortality. Now he’s become immortal. Witness why.

Mahler’s Ninth Symphony is performed by the Omaha Symphony June 2 & 3, Kiewit Hall, Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St. Friday, Saturday 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$70

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