It’s the last hurrah for festival this evening — and the curtain falls to the sound of sweet music.
Classical aficionados will be heading to the Waterfront Hall where there’s a rare performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor (Adagietto). It’s being performed to mark another of festival’s special dates — this one is the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Symphony No 5 was written by Mahler during a summer spent at Maiernigg. The scope of the work is huge, building to a fantastic finale.
Polish conductor Antoni Wit takes the Ulster Orchestra though its paces for what promises to be a spine-tingling evening of sound and a fitting high note on which to end the 48th festival.
But if Mahler doesn’t make your musical world turn, you could always head to the Elmwood Hall, where Terry Riley, George Brooks and Talvin Singh will be celebrating (that word again) Riley’s 75th birthday.
“This is going to be a really special event,” festival director Graeme Farrow says. “We’ve tried to thread the theme of celebration through festival, and we’re marking many special occasions and anniversaries.
“We’ve had birthday concerts from Kenny Wheeler and Tony Allen. Now it’s Terry Riley’s turn. I’m sure Belfast audiences will be keen to wish him many happy returns!”
The Californian pianist will perform original compositions and Indian ragas arranged for piano, voice and saxophone. George Brooks plays the sax, while Talvin Singh takes care of percussion in a performance that also includes a selection of Riley’s repertoire and solo pieces from all three.
In 1970 Riley became a disciple of north Indian Raga vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, and appeared in concert with him for the next 26 years.
In the 1970s he met David Harrington, leader of The Kronos Quartet, and began an association that has produced more than a dozen string quartets, a quintet and a concerto for string quartet, as well as a two-hour piece for choir commissioned by NASA.
And to mark his appearance at festival, his composition In C will be performed today by instrumentalists from the Southern Education and Library Board’s Music Service and singers from the Dundalk Institute of Technology, conducted by our own musical wonder, Brian Irvine.
In C is often described as the very first minimalist composition.
It was written in 1964, and all performers play the same melodic patterns in a sequence.
But each musician can choose how many times he or she repeats the pattern before moving on to the next, so no two performances are ever the same.
That means festival will be creating its own little bit of musical magic before the lights go out at last.
Mahler No 5, Waterfront Hall, 7.45pm; Terry Riley, Elmwood Hall, 8pm; In C, Elmwood Hall, 2pm