Stormy skies and a new orchestral season | Herald Scotland

Autumn is upon us, and tomorrow the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra launches its 2013-14 Thursday night series in the company of one of the great Mahlerian voices of our time.

American baritone Thomas Hampson is the latest of the big-name singers that Donald Runnicles, the BBC SSO’s chief conductor, has picked up along his travels to American and German opera houses and brought back to perform in Scotland (last season’s star guest was the magnificent Nina Stemme). And Runnicles has chosen a heavyweight opening-night programme to match. In the second half he conducts Mahler’s mighty Fifth Symphony, with its funereal trumpet fanfares and heart-wrenching Adagietto. Leonard Bernstein once wrote that “Mahler’s marches are like heart attacks, his chorales like all Christendom gone mad”: in this symphony we get both.

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In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.

Thomas Hampson