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Open Rehearsal: Marin Alsop conducts Mahler’s Fifth Symphony

Royal Festival Hall
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Marin Alsop – conductor
Sasha Cooke – mezzo-soprano


Gustav Mahler Blumine

Alma Mahler Selection of songs (orch. David & Colin Matthews), including:

Die stille Stadt


Bei dir ist es traut

Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 5

How does a conductor communicate their interpretation of a piece with an orchestra and the soloist as they prepare for a performance?

Our Open Rehearsals give you access to this creative process and allow you to see the Philharmonia at work. Learn more about the pieces and start to listen to your favourites with a fresh pair of ears.

Marin Alsop, our Principal Guest Conductor, and singer Sasha Cooke delve into the rich emotional world of Gustav and Alma Mahler.

From its sinister opening trumpet fanfare to the joyful affirmation of the finale, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony packs quite a punch. Perhaps the best-loved music he wrote, the Adagietto at its heart is ten minutes of pure, heartwrenching beauty from strings and harp. The story goes that Mahler sent a copy of this movement to his future wife Alma as a declaration of love, and they were engaged soon after.

This wasn’t his first musical love letter though – years earlier he’d written Blumine for another flame. Initially a movement in his first symphony, he deleted it after only a few performances and it is now mostly heard as a standalone piece. The singing melody threaded through it gives our Principal Trumpet the chance to show their gentler side.

Alma Mahler’s music is less well known than her husband’s – not least because in the early years of their relationship he insisted that she give up composing. Her refined and moving songs are well worth discovering. Hear a selection of songs from the 14 that survive showcase the ‘sonorous and expressive’ (Opera News) voice of Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke.

This rehearsal will be followed by a Q&A with one of our musicians.




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Running time

Approximately 3 hrs (subject to change)

Recommended age

From 7+

Programme notes

Digital programme notes available closer to the rehearsal.

Contact the Friends team

Phone: 020 7921 3906

Concerto and Symphony Friends

Concerto and Symphony Friends members can claim their complimentary pair of open rehearsal tickets by emailing


Open rehearsals are not performances. Playing may be paused at various intervals in order for the conductor, soloist and orchestra to agree on specific styles and dynamics.

Open rehearsals will take place in the auditorium where the concert is due to be performed, unless otherwise specified. Times and repertoire being rehearsed will be confirmed prior to the rehearsal date, as these schedules are subject to change.

Please note that open rehearsals are working processes for the conductor and the Orchestra, we cannot guarantee that pieces will be played in their entirety. Timings are subject to change and every endeavour will be made to let ticket holders know in advance about any such changes. Please check our website for up-to-date information.


Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

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