SMSO Presents “Majestic Mahler”

Sunday, 18 March 2018 - 4:00pm

SMSO Presents “Majestic Mahler”


The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra presents its Majestic Mahler concert on Sunday, March 18, 2018, 4:00pm at the Howard Performing Arts Center in Berrien Springs. The concert programming includes Gustav Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 5  in C-sharp Minor , a piece that embodies a feeling of struggle progressing to personal triumph. Mahler is masterful at telling a story through his symphonic works and with this unusually large orchestration, he presents a huge musical canvas and emotional scope for the listener. The piece will feature the SMSO’s Principal Trumpet, Richard Neckermann, on the well known solo introduction and Principal Horn, Lee Shirer, on the Scherzo horn solo.


This concert is also the SMSO’s “Side by Side” concert, which features members of the LMYO Youth Symphony as they perform selections from the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 by Edvard Grieg alongside the professional musicians. The Youth Symphony is conducted by Mr. Burke Lokey, who is also Orchestra Director for St. Joseph High School and MSBOA Vice President of Orchestra Activities. Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 musically reflects the five act play by Henrik Ibsen that is based loosely on Norwegian fairy tales. Over 120 total musicians will be collaborating onstage for the piece.


Robin Fountain, SMSO Conductor, also shares for this concert, “The SMSO wishes to dedicate (this) concert to the memory of our much-loved colleague and friend Betsy Wong. This particular event - featuring hands-on mentorship of young musicians, as well as performance of a truly profound masterpiece – is perhaps an especially fitting memorial, as Betsy was both a tireless advocate for music and a master practitioner of it. Through Betsy’s presence, the SMSO became stronger, more dedicated, and more fun. We miss her. ” Betsy played flute with the SMSO for over 27 years and was personnel manager for over a decade.


Members of the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra, performing in two quartet ensembles, will provide pre-concert lobby music.

WHAT: Majestic Mahler Concert

WHERE: Howard Performing Arts Center, 4160 E. Campus Circle Dr, Berrien Springs.

WHEN: Sunday, March 18, 2018, 4:00pm.

●        Pre-concert Conversation beginning at 3:00pm in the concert hall.

●        Post-concert Reception in the lobby following the concert.


TICKETSavailableonlineor by calling our office at 269-982-4030.

Zone A: Adult: $35 / Full time students $5

Zone B: Adult: $20 / Full time students $5



Peer GyntSuite No. 1, Op. 46                                      Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907)

                Morning Mood

                The Death of Åse

                In the Hall of the Mountain King


Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor                            Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911)

                Part I

1. Trauermarsch (Funeral march): In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt (At a measured pace. Strict. Like a funeral procession)

2. Stürmisch bewegt, mit größter Vehemenz (Moving stormily, with the greatest vehemence)

                                Richard Neckermann, solo trumpet

Part II

3. Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell (Strong and not too fast)

                                Lee Shirer, solo horn

Part III

4. Adagietto. Sehr langsam (Very slow)

5. Rondo-Finale. Allegro giocoso. Frisch (Fresh)


Pre-concert Conversations

Beginning at 3:00pm, one hour before the concert in the Howard PAC Auditorium, pre-concert conversations are a rare opportunity to learn first-hand about the music you are about to hear from Music Director, Robin Fountain, and our guest artists. The conversations offer an insight into the life and time of the composers, the context of the music and hints of what to listen for – provided to deepen and enhance your enjoyment of the concert.


Post-concert Reception

Join us following the concert for a reception to enjoy refreshments and meet the SMSO musicians.  It's the perfect way to end an evening of music!


Our Generous Sponsors

The Symphony is only able to perform these concerts with support from our community.  While that support takes many forms, we are particularly grateful to our sponsors for this concert Woodland Terrace Senior Living and WNIT. Additionally, this activity is supported by theMichigan Council for Art and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Notable facts about this performance:

The trumpet solo at the beginning of the first movement of Symphony No. 5 is standard audition repertoire for professional trumpeters. It also repeats the same rhythmic motif as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. It caused Mahler considerable trouble and he continued to retouch the orchestration until three years after the first performance.


The fourth movement, an Adagietto for strings and harp alone, has been called a wordless love letter to Mahler’s wife, Alma. It is often performed as a stand alone piece in a variety of contexts, including the funeral for Robert Kennedy in 1968.


The movements Grieg chose for his Peer Gynt suites bear no relation to the chronology of the play: The first piece is the prelude to Act 4; The second comes from the end of Act 3; the third from Act 4; and the last one comes from Act 2. Try to follow the story with that!


For more information, contact the Symphony office at 269-982-4030 or




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