Gustav Mahler’s rarely performed Eighth Symphony, also known as the “Symphony of a Thousand” is coming to Bogota October 15 and 16 on the 100th anniversary of the Austrian composer’s death.
In an unprecedented cultural event, more than 400 artists will perform under the baton of Mexican maestro Enrique Diemecke, the chief conductor of the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra, newspaper La Semana reports.
There are 97 musicians who make up the orchestra, but the Symphony of a Thousand will require more than that to complete the ensemble.
Forty musicians from the Orchestra of Colombia will join the Philharmonic Orchestra along with the Opera Choir, the Choir of Santa Cecilia, the Crescendo Children’s Choir, and the Choir of the Temple Music Foundation.
Mahler’s massive masterpiece is considered to have had a major impact in the history of symphonic music, and its staging makes it a challenge for any orchestra and choir in the world. In Latin America it has only been performed in Venezuela, Argentina, and Mexico.
As Bogota had no suitable setting for a concert of this magnitude, the Jorge Eliecer Gaitan theater had to be adapted to accommodate the massive production. This required building an addition to the stage that extends into the audience, sacrificing a few seats. Wooden structures were also raised that complement the stage’s “acoustic shell.”
The general director of the Philharmonic Orchestra, Claudia Maria Farias, is sure that the concert will have a strong impact on Colombians as the Eighth is the only symphony out of 10 by Mahler that has not yet been interpreted by the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra.
“The work of the last 20 years [by the orchestra] has cultivated a taste for this unusual composer, who is at times not understood in other parts of the world,” Farias added.
Commenting on the rarity of the occasion concertmaster Luis Martin Child said, “This is one of those opportunities that comes once in a lifetime, and it must be seized. It will not be repeated.”
The Symphony of a Thousand will be performed on Saturday, October 15 at 4PM and Sunday, October 16 at 12PM. All tickets were sold out within days when they went on sale last month.