Editor's note: ClassicalKUSC's Brian Lauritzen is traveling with the LA Phil during their trip to Caracas and reporting on the orchestra's activities for the radio station. We're incredibly gratified that he took some time out of his own reporting and producing duties to pen a guest post for us. You can see his updates from Caracas by following @BrianKUSC on Twitter or at the KUSC Blog.
LA Phil violinist Robert Vijay Gupta takes a moment to practice during a break at the dress rehearsal for Mahler 8 at the Shrine Auditorium
Editor's Note: LA Phil violinist and Senior TED Fellow Robert Vijay Gupta penned this post after completing the first performance of the orchestra's trip to Caracas - a performance of Mahler 9. In this post, he's saying farewell to the piece, but it also serves as a fine farewell to The Mahler Project from the orchestra.
Editor's note: Ron Andersen traveled from Alaska to Los Angeles to see Gustavo, the LA Phil and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela perform The Mahler Project in its entirety. He was kind enough to contribute this for our Mahler Project Blog.
Several measures before the last chord of Mahler 8, I can no longer hold back. Tears come and my body shakes with emotion. The emotive power of hundreds of voices combined with the large orchestra is gripping. When the music is so soft I can barely hear it, I almost stop breathing. As the music swells with the great crescendo to the powerful conclusion, my breathing gets faster and deeper until the emotions generated are too much for me, and I fall apart, somewhat like Mahler’s music does between hope and despair. Finally I gain enough control and join in the clamorous standing ovation.
In the summer of 1966 or 67 I was playing in the Idyllwild (CA) Festival Orchestra as concertmaster. I had been in student orchestras at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, or ISOMATA - now called Idyllwild Arts - every summer but one since 1959. This, however, was the first time playing with conductor Daniel Lewis, then on the faculty of Cal State Fullerton, now retired from many years conducting and teaching at U.S.C.
Working with Lewis was wonderful - his conducting and musicianship were so much better than most conductors I had played with before and after that time - but what sticks in my mind and heart the most was my introduction to the musical world of Gustav Mahler.
Mahler 4 was the first of his symphonies that I learned. An LA native, I was a senior in high school and a student member of the Pasadena Symphony. My mother was Concertmaster and the Conductor was the Pasadena Symphony's Music Director Richard Lert. I have memories of evening rehearsals - sitting in the back of the second violin section, watching Lert prepare the orchestra for performance and working hard to perfect my part. There was one passage in the Bass section in the third movement that Lert kept going over and over again, trying to get it to sound as he envisioned it. Somehow, the basses managed to get it right and we continued on.