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Principal Conductor Juanjo Meno opens the 150th Festival with world premieres by American composer James Lee III and former May Festival Creative Partner James MacMillan. Given its American premiere at the 1875 May Festival, Bach's celebratory Magnificat was described then as we would now— as "the highest form of human expression."


JAMES MACMILLAN: Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia (May Festival Commission, World Premiere)
JAMES LEE III:  Breaths of Universal Longing (May Festival Commission, World Premiere)

Celebrated maestra Marin Alsop makes her May Festival debut with a showcase of composers who crafted the American musical identity. Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is a lyrical dream of the Tennessee summer, while Aaron Copland's "The Promise of Living" rings with the hope of prosperity. The "uncanny radiance" (The New Yorker) of Robert Nathaniel Dett's The Ordering of Moses— a work the Festival premiered in 1937—returns to Music Hall.


SAMUEL BARBER: Symphony No. 1 in One Movement
SAMUEL BARBER: Knoxville: Summer of 1915
ROBERT NATHANIEL DETT: Excerpts from The Ordering of Moses
AARON COPLAND: “The Promise of Living” from The Tender Land Suite

Conductor James Conlon, the beloved former Music Director of the May Festival whose 37-year tenure as artistic leader remains the longest in Festival history, returns to lead a new work by American composer Julia Adolphe and Mozart’s famous music for a Requiem mass. First performed by the May Festival in 1882, the Requiem radiates fearless brilliance—sacred music for The Last Judgement that touches on the sublime.


JULIA ADOLPHE: New Work [CSO Commission, World Premiere]

Mahler called his Eighth Symphony, “the biggest thing that I have ever done…in which the most beautiful instrument in the world is given its true place.” Music Director Juanjo Mena concludes the 150th May Festival with a work with gigantic proportions—music of triumph and transcendence that celebrates the power of the human voice, featuring the sounds of the Chorus and the CSO in the breathtaking space of Music Hall.


GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand