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Flanders Symphony Orchestra presents Mahler concert in Brussels on 21 March

Mahler concert Flanders Symphony Orchestra
09:55 14/02/2023
The Bulletin has pairs of tickets to give away for the masterpiece performance at Bozar

Gustav Mahler's hauntingly beautiful Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) forms the centrepiece of a ground-breaking concert series by Flanders Symphony Orchestra (FSO) from 16 to 26 March.

Performed in venues in Brussels and Flanders, the masterpiece song cycle for two voices and an orchestra, alternates with a new work by composer Filip Rathé, who skilfully links the different songs together. 

Mahler’s final symphony – written after a series of personal tragedies – was first performed after his death in 1911. It has since been immortalised in numerous concert versions and in hundreds of recordings. The FSO’s new production with SPECTRA ensemble’s frontman Rathé, and conducted by Kristiina Poska, is an innovative rendition of the composer’s greatest achievement.

Soloists (pictured) Christianne Stotijn (alto) and Peter Gijsbertsen (tenor) give voice to the composer's quiet contemplation of human mortality. Rathé (pictured below) explained how he became involved in the project after the FSO’s manager Frederik Styns suggested he write a piece for the orchestra.

20180516_Filip Rathé_Rudy Carlier

“It was immediately clear to me: I wanted to make something with layers and meaning. In the midst of the climate crisis, I quickly landed on the idea of 'earth'. Suddenly all the puzzle pieces fell together: I would set up a musical dialogue with Das Lied von der Erde, with Mahler's spirit in and behind every note, but without thematic references, quotations or other gimmicks.”

While Mahler’s songs are a German retelling of ancient Chinese poems, Rathé drew inspiration from Portuguese poems by Fernando Pessoa that were his childhood favourites, in particular one about the moon. “Mahler's earthy, subhuman coupled with the cold glowing celestial body. From images like that, I create soundscapes that are predominantly dark...," he explained.

Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen_(c)Kaupo Kikkas 4

Blending this new work with the Austro-Bohemian romantic composer’s song cycle represented a major challenge for Rathé, whose aim was for the new work to “melt into one musical experience”. He describes himself as an analytical composer and storyteller, who “simply wants to tell a story”.

Performing for over 60 years, the FSO is composed of 60 dedicated musicians, and led by renowned conductors. The orchestra commissions and performs new compositions of contemporary music, such as Rathé’s contribution, as well as a classical repertoire.

Das Lied von der Erde
16 March Bruges Concergebouw
19 March Ostend Kursaal
21 March Brussels Bozar
25 March Ghent Muziekcentrum De Bijloke
26 March Antwerp De Singel. Sorry! Our prize giveaway has now closed and the winners have been notified.

Written by The Bulletin