Conductor D. Kern Holoman doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing Mahler’s Symphony Number 2.
“Oh yeah, it’s mighty big.”
How big, you are asking? Big, as in 110 instruments: two harps, seven trumpets, eight French horns, quadruple woodwinds, a huge percussion section, and a platoon of string players. Some of the instruments are placed offstage, or in the balcony, to create echoes and call and response effects.
“And then of course there’s a pipe organ at the end.”
In addition, there’s a chorus of 100 voices, as well as a soprano and a mezzo as soloists. Tuesday night’s rehearsal jammed the Studio Theater at the Mondavi Center like a sardine can. Then there’s the piece itself. It’s a symphony in five movements, nearly an hour and a half of music. It’s a whole concert program unto itself, with two intermissions. Mahler gave this huge piece a name – Resurrection – which tells you what it’s about. And if you’re wondering what it sounds like, here’s a sample from Wednesday’s rehearsal.
The UC Davis Orchestra plays Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony on Sunday at 8 p.m. in Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center. Jeff Hudson, KXJZ News.