Symphony celebrates Bernhardt's finale as music director

Symphony celebrates Bernhardt's finale as music director

April 8th, 2011 by Barry Courter in News

On a day when the city mourned the passing of one of its heroes, it was easy enough to find added meaning in the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's presentation of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection."

The concert, which will be repeated tonight at the Tivoli Theatre, represents the official end of Maestro Robert Bernhardt's 19-year tenure as music director of the CSO. He will continue to conduct pops concerts and operas as music director emeritus.

Presenting the Mahler piece carries with it significant meaning for Bernhardt, both personally and professionally, he said prior to the concert. He emphasized that the piece, and the evening, represent not so much an ending, but a beginning to something new.

Just before the concert, Bernhardt was presented a photograph of the entire orchestra by the musicians. He then spent a little extra time walking the audience through the symphony's five movements and their meaning.

The first, an angry funeral march, sets the tone and begins the search for life's meaning that is found throughout the piece.

It is revealed in the fifth and final movement and is presented by a full chorus, sung here by the combined talents of the CSO, UTC and Chattanooga State choirs.

"Die shall I in order to live

Rise again, yes, rise again

Will you, my heart, in an instant!

That for which you suffered,

To God will it lead you."

More than 200 performers, including guest soloists Jami Tyzik and Camille Zamora, filled nearly every inch of the Tivoli stage. The size, scope and scale of the Mahler work offered a fitting opportunity for Bernhardt and the CSO to showcase and put an exclamation point on the last 19 years, and they seized the moment.