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Mahler Student Festival Orchestra

The international Mahler Student Festival Orchestra was founded in 2022 by bassoonist Jappe Dendievel and conductor Lars Corijn. In March 2023, the orchestra gave its very first concerts, where Gustav Mahler's 2nd Symphony was on the program. Some 180 musicians stood together on stage for two sold-out halls. 


After a first successful project, the orchestra continues its mission with a brand new season in which 3 great symphonies will be on the stage. From Antwerp via Ghent to Leuven: the orchestra can be seen live in various Belgian cities during the new season.


Our mission

The Mahler Student Festival Orchestra brings together music students from all European conservatories who want to perform special and challenging repertoire. The orchestra knows how to achieve a high musical level from the commitment and passion of like-minded enthusiastic young musicians. In the vision of the MSFO, not only the connection between musicians themselves, but also the connection with the audience is central.


In the first project, 160 musicians from more than 20 nationalities came together around Gustav Mahler's grand Second Symphony for two sold-out halls. In this way, a peer learning context is promoted between peers. That is why there is a strong focus on new creations by young Belgian composers who are actively involved in the rehearsal process. In the autumn of 2023, for example, Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony is programmed together with a new creation by composer-in-residence Yngwie Janseghers.


During the rehearsals, the public and the local community are actively involved in order to break the distance between stage and audience. For example, all rehearsals are open to the public and free chamber music concerts are organized with some of the musicians from the orchestra in collaboration with the local community and social projects. 


In the winter of 2024, the orchestra will perform the Ninth Symphony and the Te Deum by Anton Bruckner in Antwerp. This again with the Mahler Student Festival Choir, a large symphonic choir with choristers from all Belgian conservatories that was founded together with the MSFO. The season closes with Beethoven's masterful 9th Symphony in Heist-Op-Den-Berg on the 200th anniversary of its first performance.

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Drie keer Negen

The fact that the superstition concerning 'the curse of the ninth' was sown extra fear in the early twentieth century by the Viennese composer Arnold Schönberg - who, incidentally, suffered from several fears - does not alter the fact that throughout the history of our classical music quite frequently a ninth symphony also meant or would herald the death of a composer. Handfuls of composers were subject to this, there is no doubt about it. However, there is considerable debate whether this myth is really true and so it settles in the heads of the music lover, which often gives an extra dimension to the musical experience of these works.


Whether they completed their Ninth or not, the works of these composers entered the history books: be it for the superior quality of the work, the philosophical force and mysticism behind the work, or for both.

One thing is certain: the "curse of the ninth" has befallen Franz Schubert, Antonín Dvořák and many others, as well as Ludwig van Beethoven, Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler.


That is why the Mahler Student Festival Orchestra puts the spotlight on the Ninth of these great composers with the title 'Three Times Nine'. Not only because of the orchestra's blazing enthusiasm to be able to perform these works, but also because this music allows the collaboration with the Mahler Student Festival Choir to be resumed after the phenomenal performances of Mahler's Second Symphony in March 2023. The choir will perform alongside the orchestra in Bruckner's Te Deum, which resounds as the finale of his unfinished Ninth Symphony, and will perform Beethoven's message Ode an die Freude – Ode an die Freude – alongside an international troupe of top soloists – which will, by the way, be performed on the 200th anniversary of her world creation on May 7, 1824.


Finally, this orchestral and choral line-up form the ideal basis for the commissioned compositions of Composer-in-Residence Yngwie Janseghers, which will precede the works and form a nice addition to the program with new music, as they were written especially for these specific occasions. More information about the concerts can be found further on this site!

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