Last updated: June 16, 2022
WYNTON MARSALIS Tuba Concerto
MAHLER Symphony No. 1
I. Langsam, schleppend (Slow, dragging) – Immer sehr gemächlich (Very leisurely throughout)
II. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (Moving energetically, but not too fast) – Trio: Recht gemächlich (Rather leisurely)
III. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen (Solemn and measured, but without dragging)
IV. Stürmisch bewegt (In a stormy tempo)
After its initial composition in 1888, it took Gustav Mahler a decade to arrive at the version of the score that we know today as his First Symphony. He first conceived of it in five movements and conducted this version’s premiere in Budapest in 1889 to mixed reviews. He revised it, giving it the title of “Titan: a tone poem in symphonic form”. Still in five movements, Mahler, notably, provided a programmatic description for the work, which was published in the concert notes for this version’s first performance in Hamburg in 1893. In 1896, Mahler conducted yet another revised version in Berlin for which he dropped the second movement (“Blumine”) as well as the “Titan” title and accompanying program (he had determined they confused audiences). The final four-movement version was published in 1899 as Symphony No. 1.
With its intense psychological narrative (evident, despite being made “secret”) conveyed through the medium of a large orchestra, Mahler’s First Symphony is powerful and cathartic, especially when experienced live. The first movement begins with an atmospheric introduction that Mahler described as portraying “the awakening of nature from a long winter’s sleep.” Against a shimmering backdrop of sustained high harmonics in the strings, the motifs of the awakening emerge: first, a phrase of descending fourths that Mahler labeled in the score “like a sound of nature; it alternates with fanfares in the clarinet, then trumpets “placed at a very great distance” (usually off-stage). Following cuckoo calls, the horns intone a warm melody. Finally, through a groggily crawling chromatic passage for cellos and basses, we arrive at the movement proper—on a merry theme from Mahler’s song “Gin heut’ Morgen übers Feld” (Went this morning through the fields) from his cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). Music of the song’s first and third verses are presented and culminate in a joyous closing passage.
The opening section is then repeated, after which the introduction material returns, this time with added mystery and suspense. The cellos sing sighing phrases, tinged with melancholy, that, following a horn fanfare, morph into an extended lyrical melody. It develops alongside phrases from the main song theme, cycling through various keys. Later, the music darkens, becoming more insistent and menacing, but in a gigantic climax, breaks through to triumphant brass fanfares. They lead back to the opening song, which now flows more freely, accelerating with near-delirious joy. Suddenly, the timpani crashes in boisterously, stunning the rest of the orchestra. The movement closes on this humorous moment, which Mahler once described as Beethoven “breaking out into loud laughter and running away.”
In the second movement, yodelling phrases introduce a Ländler melody of rustic character (including vigorous stamping), which the woodwinds and upper strings alternately present. Hints of the earlier threat later appear but the dance reasserts itself; beginning very softly, it builds to a grand orchestral climax, which then accelerates to the horns’ culminating shout. The mood drastically shifts in the contrasting Trio—a tender waltz of nostalgic quality, with falling, sighing phrases and the melody enriched by glissandi in the violins. A truncated version of the Ländler returns to bookend the movement.
The remarkable third movement is a sharply ironic Todtenmarsch (death march), conveyed through unusual tone colours. According to Mahler’s original program note, the tragic-comic nature of the movement was inspired by a “parodistic picture” (a woodcut by Moritz von Schwind) from a children’s book of fairy tales, depicting “the animals of the forest escorting the coffin of a deceased hunter to the gravesite.” Musically, he depicts the procession with the children’s song “Bruder Martin” (or “Frère Jacques”) but set in the minor mode to give it an “eerie and brooding effect.” It’s introduced by muted solo double bass in its high register, accompanied by timpani, after which other low instruments enter in turn with the tune in a canon—bassoon, muted cellos, tuba, bass clarinet. The oboe offers biting commentary as more instruments join the march. After the procession, a pair of oboes begin a lament; it’s soon interrupted by the intrusion of a noisy band—including Turkish cymbals, bass drum, and strings playing on the wood of their bows—with a tune of banal gaiety (Mahler instructs it to be played “with parody”).
The middle section provides ethereal contrast, with the violins singing a melody borrowed from the last stanza of the final song in Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen: “Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz” (The two blue eyes of my beloved). It has the effect of recalling a poignant memory, which then fades out—listen for touches of gong. The funeral procession returns with renewed intensity—in a different key and with thicker textures, including a new lament in the trumpets. After the banal band tune is reprised by the clarinets with cymbals and bass drum, the pace accelerates, and suddenly, the death march, the trumpets’ lament, and the band tune clash simultaneously. Eventually, they go their separate ways, with the procession waning last.
Proceeding without a break, the fourth movement begins with a shocking crash of cymbals and an anguished howl of a chord, which Mahler described as “the sudden erupting of a heart wounded to its depths.” Extant communications reveal that Mahler shaped the musical content of this movement to an explicit narrative; he once titled it “Dall’ Inferno al Paradiso”. In a conversation with his close friend Natalie Bauer-Lechner from November 1900, Mahler summarized it like this:
The last movement…begins with a horrible outcry. Our hero is completely abandoned, engaged in a most dreadful battle with all the sorrow of this world. Time and again he—and the victorious motif with him—is dealt a blow by fate whenever he rises above it and seems to get hold of it, and only in death, when he has become victorious over himself, does he gain victory. Then the wonderful allusion to his youth rings out once again with the theme of the first movement. (Glorious Victory Chorale!)
As you’ll hear, Mahler utilizes the maximum power of the orchestra’s forces to portray this psychological battle. The first section features the unleashing of the terrifying “inferno”, with a menacing series of march-like themes. It collapses, and the mood shifts to a melody of heartfelt nostalgia in the violins. At the song’s end, the crawling passage from the first movement’s introduction returns, leading into inferno’s return at the beginning of the second section. Here, we get glimpses of triumph with the introduction of the “victorious” motif; announced by a variation of the Grail Theme from Richard Wagner’s Parsifal, trumpets and trombones intone it very softly the first time. The inferno rises once more, and as it threatens to overwhelm, the “victorious” motif resounds again, much more assertively. This time, it’s extended to include a “chorale”—a statement, declared by no less than seven horns, of descending fourths that is itself a variation on the “nature” theme at the symphony’s opening. But the climax dissolves, into the reminiscences of the fanfares and motifs from the symphony’s introduction—the allusion to the hero’s youth. It melts into the nostalgic song at the start of the third and final section, gradually spinning out into an impassioned climax. The inferno then makes one last attempt to claim the hero’s soul, but a massive breakthrough occurs, like the one near the end of the first movement. With the declamation of the “victory chorale” (horns standing with bells up), triumph in paradise is at last attained at the symphony’s glorious finish.
Program notes by Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley
A native of Toronto, Chris began playing tuba at the age of twelve at Winona Drive Senior Public School and instantly discovered a passion for performing. During his time at Winona, Chris met Chuck Daellenbach of the Canadian Brass, and performed over 50 concerts with the Winona Brass Quintet including a tour of Japan. Chuck would serve as a role model and mentor for the remainder of Chris' career and those early musical experiences with the quintet would leave an indelible imprint on him.
After graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, Chris’ formal education included studies with Dennis Miller at McGill, Alain Cazes at the Montreal Conservatoire and Dan Perantoni at Indiana University. His summers were spent performing at various summer festival orchestras including the National Academy Orchestra (Hamilton Canada), National Repertory Orchestra (Breckenridge, Colorado), National Orchestral Institute (College Park, Maryland), Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra (Switzerland) and a memorable summer in the Ceremonial Guard Band performing on Parliament Hill.
Chris’ professional orchestral tuba career began overseas in Spain, performing as Principal Tuba with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia for 2 seasons from 2001 to 2003 before returning to Canada to take up the same position with the Winnipeg Symphony in 2003. Chris served as Principal Tuba with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for 15 seasons from 2003 until 2018, when he started as Principal Tuba with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Chris has been an active teacher and enjoys sharing his passion for music. While in Europe, Chris was the Professor of Tuba at the ESMAE School of Music in Porto, Portugal and is the former Instructor of Tuba at the University of Manitoba. He is very proud of his former students who hold a variety of positions.
Chris has recorded with the Winnipeg Symphony, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Real Philharmonic de Galicia, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Brass and numerous studio recordings in the US. Chris has appeared as a soloist with a variety of ensembles including the Winnipeg Symphony, the University of Manitoba Wind Ensemble and the National Youth Band of Canada. Chris gave the orchestral premiere of the Victor Davies Tuba Concerto in 2009 with the WSO and is always on the lookout to find new tuba repertoire to perform for Canadian audiences. When he is not playing tuba, Chris enjoys running, playing golf and spending time with his wife, Desiree and their two kids; Evelyn and Keenan.
Wynton Marsalis is a world-renowned trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and a leading advocate of American culture. He presently serves as Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and Director of Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1961, Wynton started playing trumpet at 6 on an instrument gifted to him by New Orleans legend Al Hirt. By 9, he played in the Fairview Baptist Church Marching band, and he began formal studies at age 12; at 15, he played the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the New Orleans Philharmonic and entered The Juilliard School at 17, soon thereafter joining the legendary Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.
In 1981, Wynton assembled his own band and hit the road, performing all over the world. To date, he has performed 4,777 concerts in 849 distinct cities and 64 countries across the globe. Through a diversity of performances and music workshops, Marsalis has rekindled and animated widespread interest in jazz both at home and internationally. The range and quality of the music that his soulful, swinging, and sophisticated bands create have deeply inspired audiences. Today, Marsalis is continuing the renaissance that he first sparked in the early 1980s, attracting new generations of young talent to jazz while also maintaining the mythic meanings in the jazz tradition.
Marsalis has been called the ‘pied piper’ of jazz and the “Doctor of Swing.” Since his recording debut in 1982, he has released 110 jazz and classical recordings and won many awards—both significant and trivial. He regularly performs in the most prestigious concert halls and loves also to play and jam in the most inconspicuous local clubs. Over the course of his tenured career, he has mentored and taught too many artists to name.
Marsalis is a prolific and inventive composer, with a body of work that includes 573 songs, 11 ballets, four symphonies, eight suites, two chamber pieces, a string quartet, two masses, and concertos for violin and tuba. He is the first musician to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop, to modern jazz. His knowledge of the interconnected roots of American vernacular music inspires him to experiment in an ever-widening palette of forms and concepts that present some of the most advanced thinking in modern jazz.
Wynton has received such accolades as The Louis Armstrong Memorial Medal, The French Grand Prix du Disque, and The Frederick Douglass Medallion. He was appointed Messenger of Peace by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2001), awarded The National Medal of Arts (2005), and The National Medal of Humanities (2016). Britain’s Royal Academy of Music has granted Marsalis Honorary Membership; in the fall of 2009, he received France’s highest distinction, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. He has received honorary doctorates from 39 of America’s top academic institutions including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Tulane University in his hometown of New Orleans.
Wynton is the music’s chief advocate, philosopher and performer who is called upon at ceremonial occasions to place events in their proper historical context. To that end, his is a principal speaker in several vital documentaries on jazz and American culture and has written many relevant essays on jazz-related topics. Between 2011 and 2014, he delivered six groundbreaking and definitive lectures entitled Hidden in Plain View: Meanings in American Music at Harvard University. Marsalis is the author of seven books, including two children’s books.
Marsalis’ vision and passionate leadership were essential to the effort to construct Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home— Frederick P. Rose Hall—the world’s first education, performance, and broadcast facility devoted to jazz, which opened its doors in October 2004.
Wynton Marsalis’ core beliefs for living are based on the principles of jazz: individual creativity (improvisation), collective cooperation (swing), gratitude and good manners (sophistication), and stubborn optimism (the blues). Wynton believes that music possesses the power to elevate the quality of human engagement for individuals, social networks and cultural institutions throughout the world.
Gustav Mahler was an Austrian composer and conductor. His compositional output was limited to songs, song cycles including with orchestra (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert Lieder, Kindertotenlieder, Das Lied von der Erde), and symphonies (nine complete and a tenth that was incomplete at his death). However, the symphonies especially, have, since the centenary of his birth, acquired canonic status in the performance repertoire. With their deep psychological narratives, they are highly wrought, expansive works, many of them including voices, that are admired for their intensely cathartic quality. Extensive and ongoing research into his compositions as well as his conducting activities have revealed Mahler to be one of the 20th century’s most significant figures of European art music.
Mahler was born on July 7, 1860, in Kalischt, near Iglau, in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic). The eldest of six children in a middle-class Jewish family, he was the local piano prodigy by age 10 and in 1875, was accepted into the Vienna Conservatory. While there, composition was his primary subject; he was one of many students inspired by the music of Richard Wagner, and thus supported the burgeoning modernist trend. He later attended courses at Vienna University, where he became acquainted with Anton Bruckner, whose music he later championed as a conductor.
Mahler’s conducting career proceeded through positions in increasingly prestigious theatres in Central Europe. He began at Bad Hall, south of Linz, then moved on to Kassel (1883–5), Prague (1885–6), Leipzig (1886–8), Budapest (1888–91), Hamburg (1891–7), and finally to Vienna’s Hofoper in 1897. His directorship there, which was facilitated by his conversion to Catholicism and lasted until 1907, was distinguished particularly by productions with innovative stage designs by the Secessionist artist Alfred Roller.
Mahler gained a reputation for being a very demanding and exacting conductor. Yet, while his volatile temper got him into trouble with musicians, singers, and the theatre administration many times, the results he got in performance were undeniably powerful, and audiences flocked to see him at the podium. In Hamburg, then later in Vienna, Mahler also conducted orchestral subscription concerts, often with adventurous programming that included idiosyncratic (and frequently controversial) interpretations of oft-performed “classics” by composers like Ludwig van Beethoven and Robert Schumann.
In 1902, he married the composer Alma Schindler, with whom he had two daughters (the elder Maria died in 1907 from scarlet fever and diptheria). Meanwhile, he wrote and conducted his own symphonies to increasing critical acclaim, with premieres being highly anticipated events. In 1907, the same year he was diagnosed with a heart defect, Mahler crossed the Atlantic to conduct two seasons at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, followed by two seasons with the New York Philharmonic. In February 1911, he contracted bacterial endocarditis, and following attempts at treatment in Paris, he died in Vienna on May 18, 1911.
By Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley
Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised as “an orchestra transformed … hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Alexander’s programming credited for turning the orchestra “almost overnight … into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.” (Maclean’s magazine).
Born in London in October 1979, Alexander, the son of celebrated concert pianists, studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors' Competition, with the press describing him as "the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality”. In August 2017 Alexander concluded his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Nürnberger Symphoniker, a position he held since September 2009. The partnership was hailed by press and audience alike as a golden era for the orchestra, where he transformed the ensemble’s playing, education work and international touring activities. These have included concerts in Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna.
In January 2015 he assumed the role of Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally.
Described as “a natural communicator both on and off the podium” (Daily Telegraph) Alexander works regularly with the leading orchestras of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin,, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Gothenburg Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sao Paulo Symphony and the Melbourne and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras. This season’s collaborations include debuts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Metropolitain Montreal, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; alongside returns to MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and the Tasmanian symphony orchestras. He will also embark on an extensive tour of Europe with the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing in cities such as London, Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen
Highlights of the previous season include debuts with the Helsinki and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestras and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, as well as at the Aspen Festival in Colorado. Re-invitations include Konzerthausorchester Berlin, RTE National Symphony Orchestra and a return to the Tivoli Festival with the Copenhagen Philharmonic.
Alexander’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (Den Kongelige Opera); La Bohème (Opera Lyra/National Arts Centre), Iolanta (Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen), Così fan Tutte (Opéra National de Montpellier), The Marriage of Figaro (Opera North) in 2015 and he led a co-production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel in 2017 with the NACO and Canadian Opera Company.
Alexander was awarded the ECHO prize in 2016 for his second Deutsche Grammophon recording, “Peter and the Wolf”, and both the ECHO and Deutsche Grunderpreis in his capacity as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s “Zukunftslabor”, a visionary project of grass-roots engagement, which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration. Through his work as Founder and Artistic Director of the Schumann Camerata and their ground-breaking “440Hz” series in Dusseldorf, and through his leadership roles in Nuremberg, Bremen and Ottawa, inspiring future generations of classical musicians and listeners has always been central to Alexander’s work. He has led the German National Youth Orchestra on several tours of Germany and works with many thousands of young people a year in outreach projects. He regularly gives informed and passionate pre- and post-concert talks on his programmes, as well as numerous interviews and podcasts on the role of classical music in society. He has a wealth of experience conducting and presenting major open-air events - in Nuremberg alone he has, over the course of nine years, hosted more than half a million people at the annual Klassik Open Air concerts - Europe’s largest classical music event.
The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc)
Yosuke Kawasaki (concertmaster)
Jessica Linnebach (associate concertmaster)
Noémi Racine Gaudreault (assistant concertmaster)
◊Marianne Di Tomaso
◊Yu Kai Sun
Mintje van Lier (principal)
Winston Webber (assistant solo)
*Andéa Armijo Fortin
Jethro Marks (principal / solo)
David Marks (associate principal / solo associé)
David Goldblatt (assistant principal / assistant solo)
◊Emily Rekrut Pressey
Rachel Mercer (principal)
Julia MacLaine (assistant principal)
◊Tsung Yu Tsai
*Joel Quarrington (guest principal)
Hilda Cowie (acting assistant principal)
Joanna G'froerer (principal / solo)
Charles Hamann (principal)
Kimball Sykes (principal)
Christopher Millard (principal)
◊Chia Yu Hsu
Lawrence Vine (principal)
Julie Fauteux (associate principal)
◊Corine Chartré Lefebvre
◊Shin Yu Wang
Karen Donnelly (principal)
Steven van Gulik
◊Jose Juan Hernandez Torres
Donald Renshaw (principal)
◊Wing Kwong Tang
Chris Lee (principal)
Feza Zweifel (principal)
Non-titled members of the Orchestra are listed alphabetically
◊ Mentorship Program Participants