Redneck Mahler Post Game Show

I’m enjoying a fairly quiet day between concert sequences- Our redneck Mahler 4 is now history and tomorrow rehearsals start up for the Rose City Chamber Orchestra performance on Sunday. Later today I’ll take the evening to study and make sure I’m focused on the right Haydn symphony.

It was a really great weekend in Pendleton- lots of new faces, as always, and old friends on hand, and I was really proud of the orchestra. In the end, we had (predictably) very little time to rehearse the Haydn 59, but I thought they played it with great precision and spark. For those of you who were keeping track, yes, I did make up a completely false story about the genesis of the work, and yes, it seems about %20 believed me in spite of my best efforts to make clear that I was telling tales.

Interestingly, nobody but me seemed to notice that the Haydn and Mahler have first movements built on repeated pitches. I love funny overlaps like that….

Mahler 4 is one of those works that stays with you after the concert- my small talk was way off par at the post concert party, because I kept feeling myself drawn back in to the piece. Really, the piece is like a long seduction- gently drawing you into another world, making you forget yourself and your surroundings more and more until all you are aware of is this vision he’s created in the lied. It’s not , by any means, a romantic seduction- his purpose is metaphysical, not physical…. I’ll miss working on it- it’s certainly one of my favorite scores of all time.

A special shout out goes to the cello section, who everyone feels were absolutely superb. They get the silver spur award this week. Also, Redneck Mahler props to Esther Mae Moses, our soprano, who was magnificently eloquent and understated in the finale.

We now seem to have accrued quite a number of conductors in the orchestra- quite a change from the old days there. I’ll have to start really looking both ways when I cross the street and maybe hire a taster when I’m conducting Mahler in Pendleton from now on….

Again, I want to thank the Kinsman Foundation, who continue to support the Redneck Mahler project.

Now, I’m enjoying the better coffee of Portland (we still miss the Pendleton Coffee Bean out East), and looking forward to a week of Schubert and micro-brews with friends. Still nursing a sore back and a bit of fatigue, but with perfect weather on offer, I’ll pick up quickly. 

c. 2007 Kenneth Woods

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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