Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page called it “an evening that is certain to change some lives” in his glowing review of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra’s performance of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume at this year’s Spoleto Festival USA. Thanks to an unprecedented media partnership between South Carolina ETV Radio and WDAV 89.9 Classical Public Radio, listeners throughout the Carolinas and around the world can hear this shimmering performance. It will be broadcast Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 8 p.m. in the Charlotte NC region on WDAV-FM 89.9 Classical Public Radio and on South Carolina ETV Radio’s Classical NPR stations: WSCI-FM Charleston 89.3, WEPR-FM Greenville 90.1 and WLTR-FM Columbia 91.3. Online listeners can hear it at www.spoletochambermusic.org. WDAV’s Frank Dominguez will host the broadcast.
“Gustav Mahler’s ‘song-symphony’ is one of his towering achievements, but it’s rarely performed due to the incredible technical demands on the two soloists, the orchestra, and its hour-long length,” explains WDAV General Manager Benjamin K. Roe. “Emmanuel Villaume and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra were equal to the challenge, and their outstanding performance has made it one of the signature events of this Spoleto season. Fans of classical music will want to hear it, and WDAV and ETV Radio are proud to offer it.” Spoleto’s performance of Mahler’s grand work for two soloists, chorus and orchestra, “The Song of the Earth,” features tenor Russell Thomas and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke. They are accompanied by The Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. Newly formed each year through nationwide auditions, the Orchestra is made up of young professionals and advanced students from a host of nations across the globe.
About Das Lied von der Erde (excerpted from the Spoleto Program Guide)
Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) is a traversal of the life cycle, from drunken youth through weary resignation to final passing, written when the composer believed he was dying. Many regard this fusion of symphony and song as Mahler’s masterpiece. The text – a set of 8th-century Chinese poems by Li-Tai-Po, Chang-Tsi, Mong-Kao-Jen and Wang-Sci, all translated by Hans Bethge in 1907 – is a meditation on life’s transience. So personal is this farewell to the world that Mahler thought it too intimate to present in public and filed the score away following its completion in 1908. Six months after Mahler’s death in 1911, Bruno Walter, his most trusted interpreter, finally premiered it, though with misgivings, calling it not only Mahler’s most intimate piece, but “perhaps the most personal work in music.”