On March 24th, the Ottawa University Orchestra, with David Currie conducting, will be performing its fourth and final concert of the 2016-2017 season. The concert program stands out in that it consists of only one piece: Mahler’s 4th Symphony. This work can stand on its own though as it takes the audience through an hour-long journey of life, death, and the after-life.
This symphony is composed around a single song, "Das himmlische Leben," which presents a child’s vision of Heaven. The song appears in its entirety in the fourth movement sung by a soprano soloist. Jordanne Erichsen (the winner of the 2015 uOttawa Concerto Competition) joins the orchestra to sing this hauntingly beautiful solo. She is excited to be a part of the complex tapestry that Mahler has woven, singing fierce driven lines in one section and gorgeous lullaby phrases in the next. In Jordanne’s own words, “Mahler is an expert at evoking gaiety, intensity, and peacefulness with his themes and he creates a riveting story in his fourth Symphony—it is ridiculously fun to be a part of that story!”
In the second movement, Trevor Wilson, fourth-year performance student in the Bachelor of Music program, will be performing the main violin solo. The solo is meant to represent an evil character from folk tales who lured the unassuming to their death with his violin playing. Mahler captured this character in the solo by using a different tuning system called scordatura, where the violinist is required to tune his instrument a whole step higher than usual (A – E – B – F# instead of G – D – A – E). This different tuning creates a harsh brightness that contrasts in a grotesque fashion from the rest of the strings (and orchestra). The soloist often has a second violin on hand that is already tuned in this way.
Tickets are available on-line through Eventbrite ($16.95; $5.65 for students) or at the door ($20; $10 for students).