Lucas Richman takes a panoramic view when it comes to programming concerts for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. There’s a subtle art to their ebb and flow. You can’t play a big blockbuster symphony such as Beethoven’s Fifth or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. And every concert can’t feature a piece as challenging as Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which will be performed this Sunday at the Collins Center for the Arts, along with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate.
“I don’t have a total plan written down, that’s planned out years in advance,” said Richman. “But I do take a pretty broad look at the overall shape of our seasons. There are some things we aren’t ready for yet. There are some things you only do on big anniversary dates. There are lots of things I want to tackle, but in due time.”
The Mahler Symphony marks a bit of a milestone for the BSO — it’s a difficult, deeply nuanced work, so much so that Richman scheduled extra rehearsal time for the musicians to make sure all the moving parts are in place.
“At an hour long, it’s an endurance test, even though this is the shortest of Mahler’s symphonies,” said Richman. “The music requires a great amount of flexibility and nuance, as the musicians trade off on different scenes. Mahler was notorious for making many, many marks in his score as to how things should be played. You don’t find that in Beethoven. He was very exacting. It requires great focus.”
The Mahler also features guest vocal soloist Katy Williams, a soprano who Richman has worked with at both the Pittsburgh and Knoxville symphonies.
“The music will sit beautifully with her voice,” said Richman. “And in addition to the Mahler, she’ll be singing the Mozart piece, ‘Exsultate Jubilate,’ which is really a showcase for Mozart’s love of the voice. He really pulls out his whole bag of tricks for it. It’s lovely.”
As the BSO progresses under Richman’s watch, attendees can expect to see more and more challenging works crop up in the programming.
“Between the baroque of the Bach, the Mozart, and then the depth and challenge of the Mahler, we’ll see a wide range of the abilities of our musicians at the concert,” said Richman. “This is something I’ve been leading up to in programming. It’ll lead to other large works. It’s just the beginning.”
As always, it will be balanced with audience favorites, new works and the occasional flash of pop-culture fun — after all, Richman also conducts the “Star Wars in Concert” productions. Mahler aside, never let it be said that he’s anything but diverse.
The Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s “Bach, Mozart, Mahler” concert is set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. For tickets, visit bangorsymphony.org or collinscenterforthearts.com.