2022-23 Musician Picks


Hello, my name is Mark Grisez. I play Principal Trumpet with the Columbus Symphony.

The piece I am looking forward to the most this season is Mahler’s Ninth Symphony that we’re playing in the spring. The thing that I love about Mahler, and especially the Ninth Symphony, is the way that he leans into discomfort, not just with the music, with all the disturbing dissonance that he plays with, but also with the subject matter. Stuff like death stuff. Stuff that's really upsetting for me to think about and for a lot of people, I think. And instead, Mahler just looks at it straight on and stares at it, doesn't break eye contact. And as a performer, to take that kind of material and take it seriously and follow where he's going is not easy. It takes a lot of bravery.

And in preparation for this symphony, I was looking through Leonard Bernstein's score, which you can see on the New York Philharmonic Archives website. And the very last page of this score is so long and harrowing and beautiful and so, so uncomfortable. It's like a dagger to the heart for minutes and minutes. At the top, Leonard Bernstein wrote, “have the courage to remain in eight,” conducting in eight rather than just a regular four. To really stretch everything out, it takes courage for even someone like Leonard Bernstein to follow Mahler on this journey. But it makes for some of the most satisfying, if difficult, experiences as a performer.

Q: What can audience members look forward to?

Of course, Mahler also has a very humorous and sarcastic side to him. The whole third movement can be listened to as if he's taking everyone's impressions of him, all of his detractors, and people who don't like him or his demeanor. Taking that parody of him and then parodying that, leaning into that, again, leaning into the discomfort. It's so much fun. Listen for that. Be brave. We'll be right there with you, facing down the terrors and the weirdness of Mahler's Ninth Symphony.

Hope to see you there!

Mahler Symphony No. 9

Rossen Milanov, Conductor
March 3 & 4, 2023 | 7:30pm

Gustav Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 9 is essential listening in the Classical repertoire. One of his last compositions written, the work was born out of a sense of finality as he had recently been diagnosed with a terminal heart condition.

A deeply personal composition, the symphony displays all that Mahler did best, from emotional melodies to lush harmonies to large-scale structures, and despite the large orchestration, the work moves seamlessly between intimate sensuality and grand majesty.

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