Unfinished Business for the Omaha Symphony


March 17th, 2016

Omaha, NE — Never finished, always wonderful.

Omaha Symphony Music Director Thomas Wilkins

Omaha Symphony Music Director Thomas Wilkins

Two of the Romantic era’s most beloved composers’ unfinished final works will take center stage in the Omaha Symphony’s Schubert and Bruckner Unfinished Symphonies. The performances will be Friday, March 18th and Saturday, March 19th at 7:30 p.m. inside the Holland Performing Arts Center.

The show’s conductor, Omaha Symphony Music Director Thomas Wilkins, thinks the two pieces will be a treat for Omaha audiences.

“This a sublime program,” he said. “There’s loud music on it for sure. There’s fast, energetic music in spots but it’s a very contemplative program. It’s the kind of thing that just allows to sit in the back of your seat and reflect. Indeed, there are moments in the Bruckner where that reflection is high drama but often it’s very philosophical and personal. It’s a very different kind of program than we’ve done. We’ve done these kind of pieces before but never on the same program. To do the Schubert ‘Unfinished’ and then the Bruckner No. 9 Unfinished is a wonderful poetic combination.”

Both symphonies are unfinished because their respective composer died before completion and, therefore, represent the last testaments and final thoughts of two great musical thinkers. Wilkins discussed how a symphony like Schubert contrasted from the composer’s earlier works.

“My favorite Schubert symphony is five,” he said. “Five is fresh and innocent, like sorbet almost. But his either symphony is grown up. For me, that’s the major difference between one period and the other. He was always a great thinker and he knew how to be serious when he was younger, but for me to contrast these two symphonies for Schubert, they’re really night and day.”

Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony presented a different kind of challenge for Wilkins. He’s never conducted that particular symphony before for a reason some listeners might not expect.

“I’ve come to this conclusion just this week, as a matter of fact. I was too young,” he said. “There are plenty of young conductors that conduct Bruckner, but I wasn’t going to be one of those guys because I just didn’t get it. Now, I look at this music, I look at the gestures of this music, I look at the pacing of this music, and I realize that now I get it. I have a better understanding of what ‘slow’ is. For me, the challenge was to able to live with it; to be will to go ‘Okay, here’s the exciting thing about being an artist.’ It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been doing something, there’s always something new that can be in front of you. If you embrace that new thing in front of you, you’ll continue to grow. Who among us doesn’t want to grow in any endeavor?”

Wilkins said this weekend’s MasterWorks performance is the perfect opportunity for those Omaha residents who haven’t yet experienced their Omaha Symphony to see brilliant work performed by a top-notch orchestra.

“There have been times when I ask people on the first night of the season to raise your hand if you’ve never been in the concert hall before. They raise their hands and my reaction is always the same, ‘Welcome Home’,” Wilkins said.

The Omaha Symphony’s performance of Schubert and Bruckner’s Unfinished Symphonies will be Friday, March 18th, and Saturday, March 19th at 7:30 p.m. inside the Holland Performing Arts Center. For more information on the show, visit www.OmahaSymphony.org.

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