Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mahler No.5 exposed

Summer Symphony preps its patrons

Express Staff Writer

Maestro Alasdair Neale is the music director and conductor for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 is considered to be one of Mahler's most significant works of music and the most well known of all his symphonies. On Thursday, March 1, and Friday, March 2, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony will conduct its 2007 lecture series with Maestro Alasdair Neale in Salon C of the Limelight Room at the Sun Valley Resort Inn at 6:30 p.m.

Neale will dive to the depths of Mahler 5 to uncover and understand the importance and construct of this seminal piece of classical music.

"I picked Mahler 5 because it is an epic piece of music and spans a considerable amount of time, over 70 minutes, laid out over a grand scale," Neale said. "It covers a huge range of emotions from despair to triumph and will be a fitting end to the festival. It will be the last performance for the upcoming 2007 summer season."

As a precursor to the Sun Valley Summer Symphony season, Neale's lecture will allow symphony supporters an exclusive peek into the world and music of Mahler, which will be much more than a music appreciation class.

"I am going to put it in the context of Mahler's musical life and where it fits in his musical progression," Neale said. "I will talk about the music itself and what it means to me as well as the structure and the musical architecture and how all the building blocks fit together."

Neale wants to fully engage those interested in attending this two-day salon by playing excerpts of the symphony as well as adding his own interpretations, which may include Neale hitting a few notes on the piano.

"I have done this piece since I was 15 years old and living with it for 30 years and hopefully living with it for 30 more," Neale said.

Mahler's Symphony No. 5 is a substantial piece of music, and spending the time to take two evenings for it is giving the symphony the attention it deserves, especially for an audience that is so receptive.

"I do pre-concert talks in my orchestra in Marin County about an hour before the concert begins, and I am used to talking about music and love doing it," Neale said. "I can explore what I have not seen before like peeling back the layers of an onion. I peel back more and more layers, and I find that immensely satisfying. There is always more to learn."

Neale always looks forward to his time in Sun Valley and finds the enthusiasm of the symphony patrons to be unmatched.

"Mahler 5 is a big undertaking," he said. "It always helps to listen to the music in advance and come with an open mind."

Tickets are $15 per lecture or $25 for both. For more details, call 622-5607.

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