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Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”
In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
Im Tempo des Scherzos
Rehanna Thelwell, mezzo soprano
Amber R. Monroe, soprano
Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”
Born: July 7, 1860, Kalischt, Bohemia
Died: May 18, 1911, Vienna, Austria
Born into what was then part of the Austrian Empire, Gustav Mahler enrolled in the Vienna Conservatory in 1875 at age 15. During this time, at the height of Romanticism and its emphasis on tradition, it is unsurprising that Mahler would be influenced by some of the Germanic titans of music, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner; the influence of all these composers is heard in Mahler’s second symphony. Mahler’s compositional style is often analyzed as connecting nineteenth-century Romantic and twentieth-century modernist styles, but the philosophies of both are in fact closely related. Both Romanticists and modernists focused on history and doing something momentous and new enough to earn their own place in it.
Recognizing this, Mahler built upon and extended the musical traditions he knew into greater lengths, timbres and ensemble sizes. His second symphony is scored for an impressive four flutes (all doubling on piccolos), four oboes (two doubling on English horn), three clarinets (one doubling bass clarinet), two E♭ clarinets, four bassoons (one doubling on contrabassoon), ten horns (four offstage, then on stage for the final movement), ten trumpets (four offstage, then onstage), four trombones, tuba, organ, two harps, strings (violin, viola, cello, bass) and a large percussion section. During a time when the timpani was the only standard percussion instrument in the Germanic symphonic tradition (bass drum, snare drum, cymbals and triangle added only for military or exoticizing effects), Mahler’s extensive use of percussion to explore the orchestral vocabulary is groundbreaking. In his Symphony No. 2, Mahler writes for two sets of timpani (three drums each), one timpani offstage, two bass drums (one offstage), two crash cymbals (one pair offstage), two tam-tams (one high-, one low-pitched), two triangles, (one offstage), multiple snare drums, glockenspiel, three bells (specified as “steel bars” with deep and different, but untuned, pitches) and the rute (a bundle of sticks to strike against the bass drum). In addition to all this, Mahler also includes alto (last two movements) and soprano (final movement) soloists as well as a mixed chorus (final movement), recalling Beethoven’s ever-looming Symphony No. 9.
Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 illustrates not only his penchant for expanding the orchestral size, but also his interest in maximizing the timbres of each individual instrument. For example, he directs string players to play col legno (striking the strings with the back of the bow), brass players to play with mutes and the clarinets and oboes to play with bells up to direct their sound to the audience. Throughout all his scores, Mahler wrote detailed instructions to players and conductors; especially since his new ideas were often met with resistance and (anti-Semitic) criticism, these instructions were necessary to help musicians understand, learn and realize his vision.
The seven years during which Mahler wrote his second symphony were marked by stress due to his job as a conductor as well as the deaths of friends and family members, namely his father, mother, one of his sisters, one of his brothers and conductor Hans von Bülow, whose funeral provided inspiration for the final movement’s text. Entitled “Resurrection,” Symphony No. 2 explores ideas of life, death and life after death.
Ominous low strings begin the first movement before passing the minor melody first to the woodwinds and then the brass for a fanfare. Perhaps in a search for understanding, the movement works through many musical ideas—some floating and airy, others heavy and low—which invoke the duality and relationship between life and death. The development section of this sonata form (with a modified recapitulation) also quotes the Dies irae from the Requiem mass, fitting for this movement, which was at first a stand-alone piece entitled Todtenfeier, or Funeral Rite. In contrast, the second movement is overall lighter in character, with a dance-like feel that speaks to Mahler’s frequent use of the folk idiom. Contrasting chromatic motives add a sense of longing to the nostalgia created by harps, plucked strings and lilting woodwind melodies. The second movement concludes with a sense of peace, which is immediately disrupted by the timpani beginning the next movement. This third movement features a constantly moving melody that quotes Mahler’s own “Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredight,” (“St. Anthony of Padua’s Sermon to the Fish”), written in 1893 as part of Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magic Horn), a cycle of songs based on German folk poetry. The song text of “Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredight,” speaks of how, despite hearing St. Anthony’s sermon, the fish remain unchanged. In the context of Symphony No. 2, the inclusion of this movement adds a sense of irony (characteristic of Mahler), perhaps considering the futility of life.
Entitled “Urlicht,” the fourth movement begins with the alto soloist (this evening, mezzo-soprano Rehanna Thelwell) singing the text from another Wunderhorn song. The title “Urlicht,” roughly translated to “Primal Light,” refers to the omnipresent, seminal and original light of God in heaven:
O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Not!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Pein!
Je lieber möcht' ich im Himmel sein,
Je lieber möcht' ich im Himmel sein.
Da kam ich auf einen breiten Weg:
Da kam ein Engelein und wollt' mich abweisen.
Ach nein! Ich ließ mich nicht abweisen!
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
wird leuchten mir bis in das ewig selig Leben!
O little red rose!
Man lies in greatest need!
Man lies in greatest pain!
I would rather be in heaven,
I would rather be in heaven.
I came upon a broad path:
An angel came and wanted to turn me away.
Oh, no! I would not let myself be turned away!
I am from God and want to return to God!
The loving God will give me light,
Which will shine on me into eternal blissful life!
This “Urlicht” movement serves as an introduction to the finale, in which we meet the full force of Mahler’s enormous orchestra. After an anguished cry in the brass, a peaceful ascending melody rises from the horns, foreshadowing the eventual life after death. The low brass and contrabassoon play a chorale of what at first sounds like the Dies irae, but quickly turns major and more hopeful and leads into the first truly joyful fanfare of the entire symphony—the light of eternal life. But, it soon turns threatening with low drums and leads into a restatement of themes from the first movement, but this time more frenzied. The offstage ensemble then calls from the distance—one can imagine a call from heaven—in dialogue with the piccolo and flute on stage. This serenity sets the stage for the soprano solo (this evening, soprano Amber Monroe) and chorus, who enter with Friedrich Klopstock’s text for “The Resurrection,” the source of the title and story of this symphony:
Auferstehen, ja aufersteh'n wirst du,
mein Staub, nach kurzer Ruh!
Unsterblich Leben! Unsterblich Leben
will der dich rief dir geben!
Wieder aufzublühen wirst du gesät!
Der Herr der Ernte geht
und sammelt Garben
uns ein, die starben!
Rise again, yes, you will rise again,
my dust, after a brief rest!
Immortal life! Immortal life
will be given to you by he who called you.
You are sown to bloom again!
The lord of the harvest goes
And gathers sheaves:
Us, who have died!
As the orchestra recalls the ascending resurrection theme from the opening of the movement, the soloists and chorus continue, this time with text written by Mahler himself. As the symphony culminates with jubilant bells, the death of the first movement has given way to life.
O glaube, mein Herz, o glaube:
es geht dir nichts verloren!
Dein ist, ja dein, was du gesehnt,
dein, was du geliebt, was du gestritten!
O glaube, du warst nicht umsonst geboren!
Hast nicht umsonst gelebt, gelitten!
Was entstanden ist, das muss vergehen!
Was vergangen, auferstehen!
Hör auf zu beben!
Bereite dich zu leben!
Soprano & Alto soloists:
O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!
Dir bin ich entrungen!
O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!
Nun bist du bezwungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
in heißem Liebesstreben,
werd‘ ich entschweben
zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug‘ gedrungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
werd‘ ich entschweben
Sterben werd‘ ich, um zu leben!
Auferstehen, ja auferstehen wirst du
mein Herz, in einem Nu!
Was du geschlagen
zu Gott wird es dich tragen
O believe, my heart, O believe:
Nothing is lost to you!
What you have desired is yours,
what you have loved, have fought for, is yours!
O believe, you were not born in vain!
Have not lived in vain, nor suffered [in vain]!
What was created must perish;
What perished, rise again!
Prepare to live!
Soprano & Alto soloists:
O, you ever-penetrating Pain!
I have escaped you!
O Death, you conqueror of all things,
Now, you are defeated!
With wings that I have won,
In fervent pursuit of love,
I will float away
To the light that no eye has seen!
With wings that I have won,
I will float away
I will die so that I will live!
Rise again, yes, you will rise again,
my heart, in a moment!
What you have overcome,
will carry you to God!
– Program notes by Elizabeth Massey, Ph.D., musicology ’22
New Jersey native mezzo-soprano Rehanna Thelwell returns to the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera for the 2021–22 season. During her time there, she appeared as Third Lady in the Young Artist production of The Magic Flute as well as Conchetta in the American Opera Initiative new work Night Trip. Thelwell has been applauded for her “superb” work by BroadwayWorld and has been singled out for her “dynamic presence” by the Washington Post. For her most recent performances, Thelwell returned to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for their 2021 season as Aunt Lou in William Grant Still’s Highway 1, USA. In January 2022, she made her house debut with Opera Philadelphia as Jocasta in their production of Oedipus Rex. Continuing on with Opera Philadelphia, Thelwell will perform in the US premiere of The Listeners in their 2022–23 season.
AMBER R. MONROE
A native of Youngstown, Ohio joining the Cafritz Young Artists for the 2021-22 season, Amber R. Monroe has been recognized as “a crystalline lyric soprano and a superb singing actress” (Seen and Heard International). She recently made her Opera Columbus debut as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Her professional credits include Nedda in Pagliacci (El Paso Opera), Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (Kentucky Opera), Clara in Porgy and Bess (Opera Western Reserve) and the title role in Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom (Cleveland Opera Theater). She has also workshopped several profound contemporary operas including Blue by Jeanine Tesori and The Hours by Kevin Puts, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. In the summer of 2019, Monroe participated as an artist in the Merola Opera Program where she performed as Magda from La rondine in the Schwabacher Summer Concert and Madame Lidoine from Dialogues des Carmélites in the Merola Grand Finale. While an artist at The Glimmerglass Festival, she was seen as the Rooster/Jay in The Cunning Little Vixen and covered the role of Anna Sørenson in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night. Recently a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from The Shoshana Foundation, Monroe has also been awarded and placed in competitions such as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, the Classical Singer Competition and more. Monroe completed her studies at Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). During her time at CCM, she performed the Governess in The Turn of the Screw and was scheduled to sing Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte prior to its cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recently described by Opera News as "a ninja warrior with a baton" for his performance of Berg's Wozzeck, David Neely maintains an active career in concert, opera and higher education. Previously serving on the conducting faculties of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the University of Kansas and the University of Texas, Neely was named Kansas Artist-Educator of the Year for 2016–17 by the Kansas Federation of Music Clubs. He is currently the director of orchestral activities at the University of Maryland School of Music.
As music director and principal conductor of Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO), a post he has held since 2012, Neely continues to elevate the company’s musical profile with acclaimed performances of a wide range of repertoire such as Queen of Spades, Turandot, Billy Budd, Manon, Falstaff, Elektra, Peter Grimes, Dead Man Walking, Macbeth, Don Giovanni, La fanciulla del West, Rusalka and Flight. His performances have been praised in publications such as Opera News, Opera Today and the Chicago Tribune. Neely’s televised Manon and Billy Budd, produced by Iowa Public Television for DMMO, were awarded Emmys by the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Next summer, he will conduct the world premiere of Kristin Kuster and Mark Campbell’s A Thousand Acres, based on Jane Smiley’s 1991 Pulitzer-winning novel.
Neely is equally at home in concert, opera, musical theater and ballet settings. He has appeared as conductor with numerous orchestras, including the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Bochumer Symphoniker, Dortmunder Philharmoniker and the Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg. He has led productions with Atlanta Opera, Sarasota Opera, Bonn Opera, Halle Opera, Dortmund Opera, Saarland State Opera, St. Gallen Opera and the Eutiner Festspiele, among others. He was associate music director of Chicago for the Munich and Basel runs of the current Broadway production. He has collaborated with such instrumentalists as Joshua Roman, Bella Hristova, Benjamin Beilman, Rainer Honeck, Nicholas Daniel, Delfeayo Marsalis, Phillippe Cuper, Ben Lulich and Ricardo Morales, in addition to countless singers of note, including Joyce Castle, John Holiday, John Osborne and David Adam Moore. Neely conducted the German premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage's The Silver Tassie, the North American premiere of David Dzubay’s Sijo for orchestra, Robert Orledge's reconstruction of Debussy's The Fall of the House of Usher as well as world premieres of Arthur Gottschalk's Four New Brothers, Billy Childs' Concerto for Horn and Strings, Alexandre Rydin's Clarinet Concerto and, at the University of Maryland School of Music, Maria Newman’s Our Rights and Nothing Less in celebration of the 200th birthday of Susan B. Anthony and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, with Carmen Balthrop as narrator. He was recently music director of three new operas with Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative at the Kennedy Center and of a new opera for American Lyric Theater in New York.
Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities for the UMD School of Music Edward Maclary is recognized as one of the leading conductors and choral pedagogues of his generation. Since his appointment in 2000, he has led the UMD Choral Activities program to global acclaim. The School’s flagship ensemble, the UMD Chamber Singers, has toured extensively and won top prizes in international competitions around the world. The UMD Concert Choir has become the symphonic choir of choice for both the National Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Among many others, Maclary has served as the chorus master for renowned conductors such as Robert Shaw, Gianandrea Noseda, Christoph Eschenbach, Marin Alsop, Andris Nelsons, Iván Fischer, Helmuth Rilling, Donald Runnicles, Markus Stenz, Nathalie Stutzman and Masaaki Suzuki. Choirs under his direction have also performed with The Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
From 2014–17, Maclary was the director of the masterclass in conducting at the Oregon Bach Festival. He has also served as the artist in residence for the Eastman School of Music Summer Choral Institute and as the choral artist for the “Five Friends” Master Class Series at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Other notable master class residencies have taken place at Westminster Choir College, Temple University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Regarded as an outstanding clinician and educator, Maclary maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor for choral festivals and honors choirs around the country. Under his guidance, the graduate choral conducting program at the UMD School of Music has become one of the most respected and sought after in the country, and its alumni occupy professional and academic leadership positions throughout the United States.
In 2014, he led the UMD Chamber Singers to Seoul, Korea for performances at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music at the invitation of the International Federation for Choral Music. In 2011, the ensemble was awarded the Premier Prix for Mixed Choirs and the Prix Ronsard for the performance of Renaissance music at France’s Florilège Vocal de Tours, and Maclary was honored as the competition’s “Chef de Choeur.” The UMD Chamber Singers have also made numerous highly acclaimed appearances at the professional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO). UMD Choral Activities hosted the biennial conference of the NCCO in November 2019, and the UMD Chamber Singers performed as one of its featured ensembles with a program that included Stravinsky’s Les Noces and the world premiere of If I Say Yes by UMD alumna Dale Trumbore ’09. In addition to his extensive experience in early music, Baroque performance practice and the choral/orchestral canon, Maclary’s repertoire extends well into the most important literature of the 21st century, highlighted by recent major collaborations with composers such as James MacMillan, John Adams and Roxanna Panufnik.
Maclary received his doctorate in conducting with honors from Indiana University after earning a graduate degree in historical musicology from Boston University. In the following years, he worked closely on many performance projects with Robert Shaw and studied and collaborated with Helmuth Rilling, Margaret Hillis and Robert Page. Other important mentors include Joseph Huszti and Robert Porco.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CONCERT CHOIR
The UMD Concert Choir comprises singers chosen by audition from across the flagship College Park campus. The ensemble has established a national reputation for excellence in the performance of a wide range of symphonic literature.
The UMD Concert Choir made its Baltimore Symphony debut in 2013 under the baton of Marin Alsop in performances of Benjamin Britten’s monumental War Requiem. They have returned to collaborate with the BSO many more times since, covering a wide range of repertoire such as Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and, in 2019, the world premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Across the Line of Dreams.
In the spring of 2019, the ensemble made its Carnegie Hall debut with the National Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Gianandrea Noseda in acclaimed performances of Liszt’s “Dante Symphony” and Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Most recently, they returned to the Kennedy Center in December 2021 to perform multiple programs featuring the music of Mozart, Bach and Handel with the NSO, again under the baton of Maestro Noseda. Over the past decade, the UMD Concert Choir has performed with many of the world’s leading conductors, such as Christoph Eschenbach, Iván Fischer, Nicholas McGegan, Donald Runnicles, Markus Stenz, Masaaki Suzuki and Nathalie Stutzmann, among many others.
On campus, the UMD Concert Choir has performed often with the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra in works such as Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s The Creation. Their latest collaboration was in November 2021 when, under the direction of Maestro David Neely, they performed Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms.
University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra
Manager of Orchestral Activities
Emily Konkle, Concertmaster
Tong Li, Principal Second
Amirhossein Norouz Nasseri
Tonya Burton, Principal
Wesley Hornpetrie, Principal
Asa Dawson, Principal
Omar Martinez Sandoval
University of Maryland Concert Choir
Christopher Dale Auen
John Solomon Collins
Regina Familiar Avalos
Anton Van de Motter