Thomas Wilkins and the Symphony conclude with Mahler’s Ninth


June 2nd, 2017

“I was probably in college by the time I got to Mahler, and it was his first symphony. The conductor was George Solti, but it wasn’t Chicago, it was the London Symphony, and I think I wore the grooves out of the LP.

I knew right away that this was music that knew me and I knew that it was a world that I certainly wanted to be a part of.”-Thomas Wilkins

 Maestro Thomas Wilkins leads the Omaha Symphony this weekend in Mahler’s 9th Symphony at Holland Center. Wilkins went in depth about Mahler’s ideas of not just eternity but understanding ourselves through his music.

WILKINS: “Here is the thing about Mahler, this is just my own conjecture. No one is on the fence about Mahler, they either love Mahler or they can’t deal with it. I believe it’s because he has a way of getting to the truth of who we are. He can get around the lies that we tell ourselves about our own existence and that makes people uncomfortable. It either makes people uncomfortable or have to deal with it.”

 Maestro Wilkins may have admitted Mahler to be his favorite composer. His emotional and spiritual connection at this weekends performance might bring something new out of you.

WILKINS: There is this ebb and flow of angst and resolve in this that happens over the course of the 27 minutes in the first movement. At the moment you finally think, “I can finally exhale”, he says, “Yeah, but wait…let’s wrestle with this first”. It can be even just a brief moment and the moment of resolve comes back. I was listening once to this Mahler 9th on an airplane, the first movement, and I’m on the isle, and I am sitting there and it gets to the end and I am weeping and I can’t stop. And I’m rubbing my eyes to make it look like I have some allergy because I didn’t want people around me to go, “What is wrong with this man? He must be losing it!”. I know part of the reason I was weeping because I know I get to be part of something like that. That what something like that is in our world.”

 Wilkins explained that we are part of music to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

WILKINS: “It is the gift of all great music weather it is Mahler or Willie Nelson singing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” to make us find something about ourselves as human beings. Maybe it’s for us to discover something about us as community or maybe it’s us finding something about our individual selves. The things that scare us, the things that challenge us, the things that like I say in Mahler’s case, the lies we tell ourselves that we fall for. Even sometimes the lies you can’t achieve. Certainly for me, I think it’s safe to say that I am always when I am in front of a Mahler score, I am humbled. I am always wondering, “how am I going to be able to pull this off”?

Maestro Thomas Wilkins and the Omaha Symphony close the 2016/2017 series tonight and tomorrow evening with Mahler’s 9th at the Holland Performing Arts Center. The concerts begin at 7:30pm and for tickets or more information visit or call ticket master at 402.345.0606.

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