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Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8

Performed by Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM)

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Published: 24 Sep 2020


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A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.

Gustav Mahler

Video reproduced with permission from Orchestra of the Music Makers

Fusing symphony with song, theatre, literature, religion and philosophy, Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is undoubtedly one of the most monumental works of music ever composed in the Western tradition. Also known as “Symphony of a Thousand” for the sheer number of performers required, its scale not only testified to the ambitions of its creator but also his ingenuity. Written by the German-speaking composer as a “gift to the entire nation”, Symphony No. 8 also eschewed the multiple-movement framework for an unorthodox two-part structure. The first movement is based on the 9th-century hymn Veni Creator Spiritus ("Come, Creator Spirit") while Part II recreates the closing scene of Goethe's Faust. In spite of the two source texts being separated by more than a thousand years, both sections of the symphony are wedded by a common vision – the redemption of mankind through the power of love and divine grace.

Conducted by Music Director Tzelaw Chan, OMM’s sold-out performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony featured a total of eight vocal soloists from four countries: sopranos Hyon Lee, Ariya Sawadivong and Janani Sridhar; altos Deborah Humble and Songmi Yang; tenor Dongwon Shin, baritone Warwick Fyfe and bass Joshua Bloom. The 135-strong orchestra was also supported by Singapore’s own Vocal Associates Festival and Children's Chorus in association with Queensland Festival Chorus, Perth Symphonic Chorus and the Winthrop Singers. 

OMM performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at Esplanade Concert Hall on 10 and 11 July 2015 in celebration of Singapore’s golden jubilee.

Tzelaw Chan is a Singaporean conductor and a founding faculty member of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore. Currently Music Director of OMM and the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, he has appeared with major orchestras in the Asia Pacific region and with soloists such as Lang Lang, Ng Pei-Sian, Melvyn Tan, Joshua Bloom, Fiona Campbell, Warwick Fyfe, and Igor Yuzefovich. In 2018, he received the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore’s Artistic Excellence Award for his contributions to Singapore music.

Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM) is a Singapore-based symphony orchestra established in 2008. OMM comprises over 140 highly-trained volunteer musicians dedicated to the high standards of music-making the orchestra stands for. OMM has played alongside the world’s finest at events such as the Cheltenham Music Festival and Lichfield Festival in the UK as well as the Taipei International Choral Festival. Following the successful performances of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel in 2017 and Bernstein’s Mass in 2018, OMM most recently staged the Singapore premiere of Wagner’s Die Walküre in 2020. 

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