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The University of Southampton

Mahler strikes the right note for University's Golden Jubilee

Published: 7 March 2002

The University of Southampton continues its Golden Jubilee celebrations with a special performance of Mahler's Second Symphony on Friday 22 March. The student-run Southampton University Symphony Orchestra (SUSO) will perform what is recognised as one of the greatest works in the symphonic repertoire at Southampton Guildhall, the only venue in the city large enough to accommodate the orchestra and chorus required to perform this monumental work.

SUSO is made up of around 100 musicians from all areas of study at the University. Their conductor Robin Browning is delighted to have the opportunity to perform this particular work in Southampton.

"Mahler 2 was the first symphony that I became deeply interested in and the whole journey from devastation to uplifting triumph is itself the making of a fantastic piece which I have longed to conduct more than any," he says.

"Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony, as it is also known, is an exciting challenge for the orchestra. Such musical intensity and emotion is rarely achieved as Mahler does in his Second Symphony and it promises to be a fantastic concert experience for both performers and audience alike."

At a length of around 85 minutes, and in five movements the Symphony requires a huge orchestra of well over 100 players. Extra brass, strings, woodwind, percussion, two harps, organ, an off-stage brass band, large chorus and alto and soprano soloists will be used in the Guildhall performance. The extra players will almost all be University alumni, and the chorus will consist of the singers of the Croydon Philharmonic Choir and members of the University Choral Society. The Symphony Orchestra President Jane Bevan said, "It will be a very emotional evening when around 250 musicians come together on one stage."

The Symphony will be preceded by Rimsky-Korsakov's triumph of orchestration 'Russian Easter Festival Overture' and the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Evan Jolly. Evan has recently graduated in Music from the University of Southampton and has successfully secured one of only a few places at the National Film and Television School.

Notes for editors

  1. You are invited to send a reporter/photographer to rehearsals for the concert. These are on Wednesday nights 13 and 20 March, and all weekend Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 March, at locations in Southampton. Please let us know in advance if you would like to attend by contacting Robin Browning.
  2. Mahler's Second Symphony
    Mahler wrote the Symphony over six years from 1888 to 1894 and it remained close to his heart for the rest of his life as a most moving and emotional masterpiece. He said of it 'One is battered to the ground and then raised on angels' wings to the highest heights'.
  3. Continuing the story of the Hero in his First Symphony 'Titan', Mahler traces the death of the Hero through the 25 minute first movement that he completed in 1888. The remaining four movements were written in 1894, almost as an epilogue to the first, and describe the change from darkness to sunlight and what Mahler called the 'morning voice of ingenious faith'.
  4. 'The Great Call' summons the resurrection of the Hero with the words "Rise again" and the finale brings a peal of bells as the entire orchestra plays the inspiring resurrection theme to accompany the chorus and soloists, as they sing 'What thou has fought for shall lead thee to God!'
  5. Southampton University Symphony OrchestraRun by students at the University, the Southampton University Symphony Orchestra (SUSO) performs three concert series in venues in the south and over the summer vacation has organised tours to Budapest, Prague, Dublin, and most recently to Poland. SUSO also runs a pre-term orchestral course for new musicians at the University to introduce them to the musical opportunities available to them.
  6. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.
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