Founded in 1987 by Robert Olson, Colorado MahlerFest celebrates the life, music, and times of the great composer Gustav Mahler during a week-long festival, culminating in two orchestral performances of one of Mahler's major symphonic works. Twenty-seven years ago, performances of Gustav Mahler's symphonies were the exception rather than the rule. Audiences had opportunities to hear the popular First and Fourth Symphonies, but performances of his larger works were infrequently heard. Thus came the idea to create a festival dedicated to the performance and study of the entire repertoire and life of Mahler.
Perhaps most gratifying is the fact that the Colorado MahlerFest has become an event driven by the artistic spirit which dwells in all its creative participants to be a part of the unique, "once-in-a-lifetime" experience.
About Colorado MahlerFest
The MahlerFest orchestra's 100-plus musicians come together from across the United States and other countries, mostly on a volunteer basis, for a week of intense music-making. Drawn by their passion for Mahler's music, they create the Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra, and perform what are generally considered the greatest (and most difficult) symphonic creations in the repertoire.
Colorado MahlerFest's continuing contributions to promoting the understanding and knowledge of Mahler's music have resulted in significant international recognition. In 2005, the International Gustav Mahler Society of Vienna awarded Colorado MahlerFest its rarely bestowed Mahler Gold Medal. MahlerFest was honored alongside the New York Philharmonic, joining such past recipients as the Vienna Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein.

Maestro Robert Olson, currently Director of Opera and Orchestras at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, has returned to Colorado each year to lead the festival he founded in 1987, with the first orchestra performance taking place on January 17, 1988.  After 28 years, Maestro Olson is retiring as MahlerFest's Artistic Director, following Colorado MahlerFest XXVIII in May, 2015:

"All good things must come to an end, and it is time for me to step down... While standing in front of these passionate and dedicated musicians has been a phenomenal privilege for me, my time has come to step down and end my participation in the MahlerFest on a glorious note in 2015 with the Ninth Symphony, Mahler’s own “farewell” of sorts."

MahlerFest will be presenting its traditional day-long symposium and orchestral concerts, along with other events to commemorate this very special year.  Don't miss the excitement of Colorado MahlerFest XXVIII, including Maestro Olson's "Farewell"!

For a more detailed account of the festival's founding and early years, read "A History of Colorado MahlerFest."
Photo by Keith Bobo
Photo by Keith Bobo
Photo by Keith Bobo