If there were yearbooks for musical compositions it is likely that the Mahler Sixth would be voted “Symphony least likely to be performed by a youth orchestra.” The tragic weight of this work is devastating and inescapable. The difficulties of its performance—technical, interpretive, emotional, even logistical—are legendary, and for many decades were responsible for the work’s not being performed at all.
And yet, in characteristic fashion, the BPYO is taking on this formidable challenge. It will test not only every aspect of the players’ musical maturity, but it will also call on every aspect of their personal maturity too. The Sixth Symphony is the most tragic and most disturbing of all Mahler’s works, and on the relatively rare occasions when one is privileged to hear it live it never fails to stun audiences and to move them at a level that few works of art are able to reach.
Every year—and to everyone’s astonishment—the BPYO manages to raise the bar a little higher. This amazing work and this performance will be the new benchmark for what these extraordinary young players can achieve. Just four years ago who would have believed it?