Founded in 1987, Colorado MahlerFest celebrates the life, music, and times of the great composer Gustav Mahler during a week-long festival, culminating in two orchestral performances of one of Mahler’s major symphonic works. Twenty-eight years ago, performances of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies were the exception rather than the rule. Audiences had opportunities to hear the popular First and Fourth Symphonies, but performances of his larger works were infrequently heard. This inspired Founding Artistic Director Robert Olson to create a festival dedicated to the performance and study of the entire repertoire and life of Mahler. In 2015, Kenneth Woods was appointed MahlerFest’s new Artistic Director.
Perhaps most gratifying is the fact that the Colorado MahlerFest has become an event driven by the artistic spirit which dwells in all its creative participants to be a part of the unique, “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
The MahlerFest orchestra’s 100-plus musicians come together from across the United States and other countries, mostly on a volunteer basis, for a week of intense music-making. Drawn by their passion for Mahler’s music, they create the Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra, and perform what are generally considered the greatest (and most difficult) symphonic creations in the repertoire.
Colorado MahlerFest’s continuing contributions to promoting the understanding and knowledge of Mahler’s music have resulted in significant international recognition. In 2005, the International Gustav Mahler Society of Vienna awarded Colorado MahlerFest its rarely bestowed Mahler Gold Medal. MahlerFest was honored alongside the New York Philharmonic, joining such past recipients as the Vienna Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein