Greenville Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Hymn to Nature’

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Staff Reports: April 18, 2016

Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel will lead the Greenville Symphony Orchestra (GSO) in “Hymn to Nature,” the final concert of the 2015-2016 Masterworks Series, at The Peace Center Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7 and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 8.

Accompanying the GSO will be alto soloist Stacey Rishoi, Chicora Voices (The Children’s Choir of Greenville) under the direction of Alan Reed, artistic director and conductor, and conducted by Laura Jean Reed, and the Women of The Greenville Chorale, under the direction and conducted by Bingham Vick, Jr. (artistic director and conductor of The Greenville Chorale).

The program includes the Greenville premiere of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in D minor. This intense masterpiece is divided into six movements, each with different characteristics and an accompanying title. The first movement, “Pan Awakes, Summer Marches In,” is the most colossal of all the movements and contains a series of marches, creating an atmosphere of midday summer heat. The other movements are “What the flowers in the meadow tell me,” “What the animals in the forest tell me,” “What the night tells me (Mankind),” “What the morning bells tell me (Angels),” and “What love tells me,” following that order.

Each movement reveals Mahler’s fascination with nature and his desire to replicate the sounds of nature throughout the work. These sounds represent everything from bird calls in the forest to human emotions. This work, unconventional in the sense of its structure compared to a typical symphony, is all-encompassing and portrays the vastness of nature. Though Mahler removed these titles from the official publications, the titles reveal his inspiration for each movement; Mahler, contradictory as he was, even allowed them to be included in the program the final time he conducted Symphony No. 3.

Mahler’s desire for complexity in his work is a recurring theme within the music and explains the magnitude of the symphony itself, with instrumentation calling for nearly 80 musicians, a children’s choir, and a women’s choir with an alto soloist amounting to more than 200 people on stage. Mahler’s Third Symphony is performed in concert less frequently than his other symphonies due in part to its great length and the huge forces required. Despite this, it is a popular work and has been recorded by most major orchestras and conductors.

Tickets to the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s “Hymn to Nature” concert range from $17 to $66. To purchase tickets, contact The Peace Center Box Office at 864-467-3000 or toll-free at 800-888-7768 or online at peacecenter.org. For more information about the concert, visit the Greenville Symphony Orchestra website at greenvillesymphony.org.