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The Green Mountain Mahler Festival practicing for their New Year's Day concert. Photo: Sarah Harris
The Green Mountain Mahler Festival practicing for their New Year's Day concert. Photo: Sarah Harris

Green Mountain Mahler Festival welcomes new year with Beethoven's 9th

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Most choirs and orchestras spent December practicing Christmas carols. But members of the Green Mountain Mahler Festival in Burlington, Vermont have been working on a different piece of music - Beethoven's 9th symphony.

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Sarah Harris
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On a snowy Monday night the week before Christmas, members of the Green Mountain Mahler Festival are hard at work. 

They’re practicing for their upcoming concert, and the music is serious – Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

People’s coats and instrument cases line the walls. The room is packed with a full choir and full orchestra. When I arrive, they ask if I sing. I say yes – back in middle school choir. I’m immediately plunked in the alto section.

I follow along for a few measures, but then just sit back and listen. For a community orchestra, they sound really good.

During a break, I talk with Dan Weiss, the group’s founder.

"The whole idea is to provide an opportunity for professionals, serious advocational musicians, talented students to be able to experience some of the bigger works they don’t normally get to experience in normal community orchestras or even professional groups like the Vermont symphony," Weiss explained. 

The music may be hard, but everybody’s having a good time.  

"At the end of the day it’s a blast. It’s fun," says Weiss. "We want people to play good music and to play it well with other good musicians and to experience those big huge pieces that they really want to sink their teeth into."

After a couple minutes, the group gets back to practicing. The music swells and I lean back in my chair, listening to the musicians’ joyful noise. 

The Green Mountain Mahler Festival will perform Beethoven’s 9th symphony at St. Michaels College in Burlington, 3 p.m., on New Year’s Day. 

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