Erie Philharmonic Honors Leonard Bernstein with Mahler's Third Symphony
Youth Chorale joins female members of Erie Phil Chorus for impressive production
SATURDAY, JAN. 20
Over 200 musicians will bring the monumental power of Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony to the Warner Theatre stage in the Erie Philharmonic's first major performance of 2024. Featuring renowned vocalist Lindsay Ammann alongside the Erie Philharmonic Youth Chorale and the women of the Erie Philharmonic Chorus under the direction of Sharon Downey and Thomas Brooks, both the symphony and concert will honor the legacy of composer Leonard Bernstein, whose performance of the piece was recently featured in the 2023 biopic Maestro.
"As we perform Mahler's grand Symphony No. 3, we not only celebrate Bernstein's musical genius as depicted in the film, but also the unifying power of music he championed. The performance is a bridge between past and present, encapsulating the vastness of human experience through a compelling fusion of instrument and voice," the Erie Philharmonic states. "It's a reflection on how Bernstein's vision and Mahler's compositions continue to resonate and inspire, drawing parallels with the cinematic tribute to a legend who reshaped the world of classical music."
Ammann previously performed Verdi's Requiem with the Erie Philharmonic in 2010. She is an alumna of the Resident Artist program at the Pittsburgh Opera and has performed with companies including the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington National Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the Lyric Opera in Chicago, and the Opéra National de Lyon in Paris.
The Erie Philharmonic Youth Chorale, which features the youngest voices in Erie with choristers ranging in age from elementary through middle school, will be adding their vocal talents to the (already packed) stage. Youth Chorale director Sharon Downey comments, "Learning there would be two symphonic programs with significant parts for a children's chorus this season was exciting but also a bit frightening. Were our young singers going to be ready for a symphonic program? And an epic Mahler symphony for their first experience? More musicians on stage than ever before?"
But Downey feels confident in their work, "We emphasize professionalism in all of our rehearsals and preparation, and this collaboration with Maestro Meyer, the orchestra, an alto soloist, and the women of the Philharmonic Chorus will demand yet another level of maturity and musicianship." She continues, "Singing Mahler Three will be a thrilling and memorable experience for our young singers that they will long remember."
Mahler and Bernstein are both considered highly influential in the world of classical music, helping to bring the genre into the modern era. Both Mahler and Bernstein brought the exploration of human work into their compositions, showcasing themes of love and nature while influencing generations of composers.
Mahler began composing his Third Symphony during the summers of 1895 and 1896 in between his busy schedule as a conductor in Hamburg, Vienna, and Berlin. Drawing inspiration from a collection of various German folk poems and songs, he crafted a symphony that departed from the established four-movement structure to create a six-movement story. His viewpoint was that a symphony should not be defined by the structure but through the story and world it creates, drawing inspiration from nature and emotions to form a symphonic poem.
Leonard Bernstein in particular was influenced by Mahler, to whom he could relate as both a composer and conductor. Serving as the director of music for the New York Philharmonic, he began a series of recordings of Mahler's Symphonies with the orchestra known as the "Bernstein-Mahler Cycle", which would help revive the composer's musical and historical significance as portrayed in Maestro.
8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. // Warner Theatre, 811 State St. // $17-$61 // Tickets and info: eriephil.org