Mahler's Titan Symphony

Mahler's Titan Symphony

Mahler's Titan Symphony

presented by the Arthur F. & Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation


Robert Moody, conductor  

Saturday, November 5, 2022 at 7:30pm
Sunday, November 6, 2022 at 2:30pm

The Cannon Center for Performing Arts


JOHANNES BRAHMS          Academic Festival Overture, op. 80
(1833 - 1897)

KATHRYN BOSTIC             
V. "Exalted Roads of Truth and Triumph" 
                                                       from The Great Migration



GUSTAV MAHLER               Symphony No. 1 in d major, (Titan)
(1860 - 1911)                              I.   Langsam Schleppend (“Slowly trodding”)
                                                       II.  Kräftig bewegt (“Powerfully moving”)
                                                       III. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen
                                                            (“Solemn and measured, without dragging”)
                                                       IV. Stürmisch bewegt (“Stormy in movement”)


Meet the Musicians 


Music Director Robert Moody 

2022/2023 marks Maestro Robert Moody’s sixth season as Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.  Expanded and adventurous programming, the MSO’s first commercial recording in over three decades, and a new $25-million-dollar endowment have highlighted the past two seasons.  Moody is also Music Director of the lauded Arizona Musicfest, boasting one of the finest festival orchestras in North America.  Players hail from the top orchestras in the world, including the Vienna and New York Philharmonics, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, and San Francisco Symphonies, and the San Francisco and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras.

In 2018 Moody completed eleven-years as Music Director for the Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine), thirteen-years as Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony (NC).  Prior to that he served as Resident Conductor for the Phoenix Symphony, Chorus Master for Santa Fe Opera, and Associate Conductor for the Evansville (IN) Philharmonic Orchestra.

Moody recently guest conducted the three major orchestras of South Africa in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town; he was immediately invited to return for more concerts in the Summer of 2020.  Other guest conducting this season includes the orchestras of Bogota, Colombia; Aachen, Germany; Sacramento, California; and a return to the Sewanee Music Festival in the mountains of Tennessee.  Prior Guest Conducting has included Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and the orchestras of Toronto, Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Buffalo, Columbus, Louisville, Minnesota, and Slovenian Philharmonic.  Festival conducting includes Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Brevard Music Center, Sewanee Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Bowdoin International Festival, and the Oregon Bach Festival.

Equally at home in the opera pit, Moody began his career as apprentice conductor for the Landestheater Opera in Linz, Austria.  He conducted for the opera companies of Santa Fe, Brevard Music Center, and Hilton Head Opera.  He also assisted on a production of Verdi Otello at the Metropolitan Opera (NY), conducted by Valery Gergiev, and at The English National Opera, where he was Assistant Conductor for Kurt Weill Street Scene.  He made his Washington National Opera and North Carolina Opera debuts in 2014, and conducted Bartok Bluebeard’s Castle, Leoncavallo I Pagliacci, and Poulenc Dialogues of the Carmelites in the seasons following.  Debuts to rave reviews with Brevard Music Center for Weill Street Scene, Opera Carolina for Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro, and Des Moines Metro Opera for Strauss Die Fledermaus came in 2017 and 2018.

Moody is a champion of the works of his close friend Mason Bates, now Composer-in-Residence with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and prior in the same role with the Chicago Symphony.  Moody commissioned/conducted Bates’ first full orchestra composition, and has been instrumental in the commission and premiere performances of several of Bates’ important major works for orchestra, including OdeRusty Air in Carolina, and Desert Transport.

Moody’s work can be heard on several commercially released recordings.  He collaborated with the Canadian Brass for their Bach and Legends albums.  He is also the conductor for Native American artist R. Carlos Nakai’s Fourth World album.  In 2015 he was honored to conduct the “Cancer Blows” gala concert with Ryan Anthony, members of the Dallas Symphony, and a host of trumpet luminaries, to aid the fight against Multiple Myloma.  CD and DVD recordings of that live concert are also commercially available.  Fall of 2019 will see the release of Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s first commercial recording in several decades.  The works are Jim Stephenson’s Concerto for Hope featuring Ryan Anthony, and Song of Hope” by Peter Meechan – featuring Ryan Anthony and Scott Moore.

A South Carolina native, Moody holds degrees from Furman University and the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Donald Neuen.  He is a Rotarian, and serves/has served on the boards of AIDs Care Services, Winston-Salem YMCA, WDAV Radio, and the Charlotte Master Chorale.  Maestro Moody is an avid runner, swimmer, and snow-skier.

Program Notes

by Michelle Pellay-Walker

In 1879, Johannes Brahms was awarded an honorary doctorate of music degree from the University of Breslau (now the University of Wrocław in Wrocław, Poland).  He initially responded with a simple note of thanks, but was later  informed that the university expected him to “express his gratitude” in the form of a musical composition:  Conductor Bernard Schloz (who had nominated him for the award) is quoted as writing:  “Compose a fine symphony for us!!  But well orchestrated, old boy, not too uniformly thick!”  Schloz should have known better:  Brahms ultimately responded with the Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80, which—for all intents and purposes—is a series of “dressed up” drinking songs.  Composed in 1880, Brahms premiered it at the University in January of 1881.  The work is scored for a large orchestra that includes full woodwinds (including piccolo and contrabassoon), full brass (including tuba), timpani, percussion, and strings;  it takes approximately 10 minutes to perform.  Don’t be fooled by the irrepressible nature of the work:  Brahms’ solid craftsmanship is as strong as ever, but with tongue firmly in cheek—which must have delighted the students even more than it annoyed the academics!!    

"Exalted Roads of Truth and Triumph” is the fifth and final movement of Kathryn Bostic’s The Great Migration:  A Symphony in Celebration of August WilsonThis symphony, written to honour Wilson’s legacy as a playwright, was premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in January of 2018.  Taking just under 5 minutes to perform, the last movement is scored for full woodwind and brass sections, timpani, percussion, piano, guitar, harp, and strings.  The symphony as a whole is inspired by poems and plays Wilson wrote that described his experiences growing up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.  Exalted Roads, introduced with text from Wilson’s play, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, juxtaposes lyrical moments with “bluesy” sections of rhythmic complexity;  the unpredictable shifts are sure to engage the listener’s interest as the work progresses.                         

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, sometimes referred to as the “Titan,” was composed between the end of 1887 and the spring of the following year, with its premiere performance taking place in Budapest in late 1889, with Mahler conducting the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra.  There are so many interesting facts about this piece that it’s doubtful they’ll all be covered here.  Some of the musical influence for this symphony comes from the earlier Songs of a Wayfarer, written a few years before the symphony.  Melodies from the second and the fourth songs wind up in the first and third movements respectively.  Mahler takes a page out of Beethoven’s playbook and switches the order of movements Two and Three;  in this symphony, the second is a quasi Minuet & Trio, with the third serving as a slow funeral march.  The theme for the latter will be instantly identifiable to most listeners as Frere Jacques (usually called Are You Sleeping? in the United States) even though Mahler works it in a minor mode rather than the usual major.  At the end of the symphony, the French horns are instructed by the composer to stand, to maximise their sound (every now and then, the viola section will “horn” in on this idea and stand during their huge fourth movement solo—but only in rehearsal!!  Trust me:  You’ll know where it is!!).  Finally, Mahler wrote another movement for this symphony that was originally intended to be the second movement Andante;  it is called Blumine.  Mahler discarded it after the first three performances;  it was rediscovered at Yale University in 1966, and has been subsequently recorded.