1990’s MahlerFest III featured the Third Symphony, and there was now a definite plan to do one symphony a year, in order. Olson was now able to produce a handsome, fully formated program book, at the beginning of which was the MahlerFest motto: “Dedicated to the performance and study of the entire Mahler repertoire.” Two films were shown, Ken Russell’s Mahler and Visconti’s Death in Venice. There were several lecturers, including, for the first time, a non-local Mahler expert. The chamber program included four piano pieces and three songs of Alban Berg; Ablosung im Sommer, Mahler’s song which provided the basic theme for the fourth movement of the Third Symphony; Mahler’s song Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, arranged for small chorus; and Mahler’s song cycle Kindertotenlieder. The 500-seat concert hall was full, with overflow audience listening in the lobby.
Robert Olson returned to Colorado each year to lead the festival he founded in 1987. After 28 years, Maestro Olson retired as MahlerFest’s Artistic Director, following Colorado MahlerFest XXVIII in May, 2015, stating:
“All good things must come to an end, and it is time for me to step down… While standing in front of these passionate and dedicated musicians has been a phenomenal privilege for me, my time has come to step down and end my participation in the MahlerFest on a glorious note in 2015 with the Ninth Symphony, Mahler’s own “farewell” of sorts.”
Following Olson’s retirement, Colorado MahlerFest announced the appointment of Maestro Kenneth Woods as the new Artistic Director.