May 28--Gustav Mahler left us instructions on how to hear the 100 minutes of his Symphony No. 3 (1896). "In it the whole of nature finds a voice," he once said.
There were originally titles for each movement -- "Summer marches in," "What the meadow flowers tell me," "What the creatures of the forest tell me," "What love tells me," and so on. But the composer was ambivalent about pressing such programmatic specifics on the imaginations of listeners and eventually withdrew them from the score. Still, he made sure that his ideas leaked out in other contexts. It's as if Mahler wanted it both ways: Heed the musings behind the music, but don't genuflect before them.
How a conductor, orchestra and listeners navigate these slippery slopes is just one of the challenges of the piece, which makes up the entire season-closing program by music director Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Of course, the conductor also has the task of lassoing into a single unit the sprawling forces Mahler called for: a huge orchestra (including eight horns), choruses of women and boys and solo mezzo soprano. Then there are the demanding solos spread throughout the ensemble and, finally, the stamina and concentration required to play one of the longest works in the repertoire.
It ain't easy, but when it all comes together, the glories can be transcendent. With mezzo soprano Elizabeth Bishop. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward, Detroit. 313-576-5111. www.dso.org . $15-$50.
You don't usually look to a children's choir for contemporary music, but the Detroit Children's Choir spring concert includes "I'm Love" by local composer Paola Marquez. The piece, an expression of love in different languages, grew out of collaborative workshops involving the composer and the students of the choir. Marquez has incorporated into the score the names of the children along with ideas from their poems. Musicians from the DSO and young dancers from LaShelle's Dance Company are among the performers. Choir artistic director Lauri Hogle conducts.
4 p.m. Saturday, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2080 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. Admission is free, but tickets must be reserved in advance at www.dso.org . More details at www.detroitchildrenschoir.org or 313-833-4432.
Contact Mark Stryker: 313-222-6459. firstname.lastname@example.org
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