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Mahler's Symphony No. 3 a Program Rarity

Composer’s rarely performed work to be presented at Northwestern Jan. 28 and 29

EVANSTON --- Two performances of Gustav Mahler’s complex and rarely heard Symphony No. 3 featuring the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, Anima youth choral group, the women of the University Chorale and the Alice Millar Chapel Choir, and vocal soloist Karen Brunssen will be directed by Victor Yampolsky, the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music’s director of orchestras. 

The concerts will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Presented by the University’s Bienen School of Music, the concerts are part of the College Orchestra Directors Association 2012 Chicago Conference that will be held at Northwestern. For more on the Jan. 26 to 28 conference, visit

Written between 1893 and 1896, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is his longest piece and the longest symphony in standard repertoire. The piece is rarely performed due to its length (100 minutes, including brief pauses between some movements) and demanding instrumentation, which calls for a large string section, two timpanists, a children’s and women’s chorus, and off-stage brass and percussion. Originally titled “A Summer Midday’s Dream,” its movements depict the lushness of nature in summer, with quotes from Mahler’s early song “Ablosung im Sommer” (“Relief in Summer”) and a setting of Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Midnight Song” from “Also sprach Zarathustra.”

Alto Karen Brunssen, a Bienen School faculty member, has made solo appearances with major orchestras throughout the United States, including the Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis and National Symphony orchestras. Her recent engagements include a tour performing Verdi's “Requiem” in Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland. Brunssen, whose singing career has spanned more than 30 years, is a frequent guest clinician, master teacher, panelist and adjudicator for music schools and organizations.

Anima, a youth choral organization founded in 1964, performs frequently with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has received four Grammy awards for their collaboration. Anima has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia and was the first children’s chorus funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. The chorus has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Library of Congress Local Legacy Award and the ASCAP Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming. 

Concert tickets are $12 each for the general public and $6 for students with IDs. Northwestern faculty and staff with a valid WildCARD ID receive a 15 percent discount off the general public ticket price.

For more information, call the Pick-Staiger Concert Office at (847) 491-5441 or visit To purchase single tickets, call the Pick-Staiger Ticket Office at (847) 467-4000 or visit

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