In July of 2014, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra ventured into an unusual and truly epic Trans-Tasman collaboration. With their music director Tom Woods’ musical ties to the city of Melbourne, they approached the Melbourne Youth Orchestra to join them in New Zealand for a special performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 in C minor Resurrection.

The Resurrection Symphony didn’t get its name from Mahler himself, but there is no doubt that the themes of death, rebirth and transcendence are at the core of this work. Mahler originally wrote the first movement as a tone poem called Totenfeier, German for Funeral Rites. As the idea of a symphony grew he added a second movement that represented the joyful times that we experience in life, and then a Scherzo that leads to a cry of despair that can come from the confusing bustle of daily life. The 4th movement Urlicht, or Primeval Light, introduces the first voice in the symphony, a mezzo-soprano. She sings about the pain of the human experience and our desire for blissful eternal life. The Finale encapsulates the whole of the Symphony’s metaphysical journey and leads us to the triumphant resurrection of the human spirit.

Amanda Atlas (sop), Bianca Andrew (mezzo), Jubilate Singers, Consortia, Christchurch City Choir, Melbourne Youth Orch, Christchurch Symphony/Tom Woods

MAHLER: Symphony No 2 in C minor, Resurrection

Recorded in the New Zealand Air Force Museum, Wigram, Christchurch by Radio New Zealand