What's Happening at the Symphony

Why Mahler?

Rafael Payare, Music Director

“Mahler’s 5th symphony -- he did it after he had a scare with death. It starts with a funeral march and ends with La Ronde, very life affirming -- even though it started with a scare. This one is very life affirming and almost like a new beginning it’s like a new birth or a new journey. So I see it as starting a new journey with the San Diego Symphony. Something that will start our journey together… it’s what the future is going to be about. The technical display of the Orchestra is fantastic, it uses every single section and the music making is great. So I said, ‘yes!’ this the perfect piece to start our journey.”  


Kathryn Hatmaker, Violin

“Playing the music of Mahler was one of the reasons I wanted to be an orchestral musician. In just the span of an hour you run the entire gamut of human emotion without even being aware of the passing of time. Mahler really takes you someplace else where everything seems to stand still and yet you experience everything under the sun in the course of an hour without leaving your chair, the Jacobs Music Center and without being aware of how long you’ve been on the journey. It’s an incredible feeling, Mahler 5 is a particularly special piece of music.”


Christopher Smith, Principal Trumpet

“Mahler wrote such great parts for all of the brass instruments. I think that there are very few composers that wrote for the brass sections and showcase what we are able to do on the instruments.

In the opening of Mahler’s 5th the responsibility lies on me to create that moment of the Funeral March of this solemn, very sober march. The symphony sort of evolves from a funeral march to what I would think is a celebration of life. You’ll hear that in the last few minutes of the final movement, where we are in major chords and the first trumpet still leads the whole brass section in these glorious and major chords and celebrating life.”


Benjamin Jaber, Principal Horn

“Mahler wrote such wonderful music for all the brass and especially for the horns. He was a conductor himself and was one of the great conductors of the age and he knew all the instruments intimately and knew what they could do. He also sought to further their abilities and their parameters dynamically in terms of expression. All his music portrays every extreme, from blackest depression to the most exulted revelation. The brass can very much aid in that I think the horns and the music that he wrote in all his symphonies are very aptly suited towards that.”

The slow movement is one of the most sublime things Mahler ever wrote Adagietto for just the strings, its actually one my personal favorite moments in the piece because I get to sit there and just enjoy it after just having to lots and lots of notes.”


Julia Pautz, Violin

“Playing the slow movement of Mahler’s 5th Symphony as a violinist is like body surfing. You are moving along with the wave but then in some magical way you are also the water so you are making the wave but you are also riding the wave and it’s this beautiful ebb and flow.”



Share Article
Back to all posts