From the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park-River Forest (IL):
By Bruce Polay:
I had the distinct privilege of witnessing history with the Symphony of Oak Park-River Forest on Monday, April 19. A community orchestra, conducted by a gifted, world-class musician in Jay Friedman, put on a truly memorable performance of one of the greatest, most challenging and otherwise impractical works in all of the orchestral literature.
Mahler’s 8th Symphony calls for a huge orchestra that requires a large string orchestra, supplemented by two piccolos, English horn, bass-clarinet, e-flat clarinet, contrabassoon, eight French horns, two harps, celesta, organ, piano, harmonium, mandolin, an auxiliary brass band, seven vocalist soloists, mixed choir of 200 souls supplied by the Symphony Chorus and the
Oak Park-River Forest Children’s Chorus. What a combination.
Accompanying me were five students from Knox College. The program notes mentioned that this magnificent work had not been performed by our famed Chicago Symphony since 1980. And here we were in Chicago’s gem, Symphony Center, with a community orchestra, choruses, and a member of the CSO bringing us the rare and unique joy of not only witnessing history in the making, but hearing a work rarely attempted by one of the most proficient and financially viable professional orchestras in the world!