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NISO Titan Symphony

In Tune: 'The Titan Symphony'

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Hello everyone! Our wonderfully successful season will be capped by performance of "Mahler's Symphony No. 1—The Titan"—on Friday evening, May 2.

It has been a wonderfully successful year with superb performances by the symphony and chorus, generous support from all of you in the community, and concerts with few seats left to be had. (I hope that you will grab your tickets right away as our last two performances have been sold out!)

It is fitting that we end our season with this amazing, uplifting and mind-boggling symphony. For one, you ask me for Mahler all the time. Just last week I had a lady write to me and request more Mahler. The week before, I was speaking to a group of PEO ladies in Munster, and when I asked which composer they wanted to hear more of, the first answer was "Mahler"!

Secondly, as an end-of- season piece, this composition contains an overwhelming rainbow of human emotion. It is all-encompassing and embracing of so very much.

At the beginning of the last movement, are there two timpanists creating a hair-raising storm?

In the 3rd movement, is there some crazy Jewish klezmer band music?

And in that same movement, is there a funeral march on the tune of Frère Jacques?

Yes—there is a funeral march but it’s kinda funny actually. It is based on a piece of art depicting a parade of animals happily carrying along the bad, bad huntsman!

What I am trying to convey is that this titan of a symphony involves the listener on such a plethora of levels; it follows Mahler's mantra that each of his symphonies should be an entire world, an entire universe of experiences and feelings. He challenges all of us, musician and listener alike, to be in tune with the vast array of our emotions.

When I am studying this piece, I often feel like that one superhero in The Incredibles.

You know, the wife of the big guy. Her name is Elastigirl and she can stretch into any form whatsoever. Well, when I am studying The Titan, I feel like Elastigirl.

The staggering range of emotions in the piece takes you from the "cry of a wounded heart" that Mahler speaks about at the beginning of the 4th movement, to the thrilling victory at the end where Mahler instructs the eight French horns to stand up and "play out, over and above the trumpets".

I remember as a student, when I first heard this piece; I almost jumped out of my pants!

I predict that you will want to jump out of your pants too. The ending is that kind of moment when you are no longer in control and the orchestra picks you right up out of your seat.

It is heaven and earth all rolled up into one.

Opinions are solely those of the writer's. Kirk Muspratt is the conductor of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. Muspratt's column is an occasional feature during symphony season.


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