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The Big Day!

LA Phil in Caracas

It's finally here!

Today's the day that The Mahler Project, all five weeks of it, ends in the most spectacular fashion imaginable.

Today's the day that Gustavo leads the LA Phil, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and a literal cast of thousands in the gargantuan Mahler 8, the "Symphony of a Thousand," live from Caracas!

Of course, you don't have to be IN Caracas to see it - you can head on over to your local cineplex and see it in HD from the comfort of your very own movie theater seat. It's the second installment of LA Phil LIVE, and it promises to be a movie-going experience like no other.

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Extra, Extra – Read All About It!


Photo courtesy of the LA Times

In addition to our excellent institutional sources on the ground in Caracas - who shall remain, of course, known only as "LA Phil Staff - there's no shortage of press coverage of the LA Phil's visit to Caracas.

It's a good story, after all - Gustavo Dudamel, favorite son of the famed El Sistema music education system, becomes classical music superstar and returns home to Venezuela to combine his two musical families. Add to that the fact that no major symphony orchestra has been to Caracas in over two decades and you've got a situation ripe for coverage in the press.

Gustavo with a newspaper

That said, the media coverage of the LA Phil's trip - and of Gustavo and The Mahler Project in general - has been plentiful, comprehensive and really interesting. Here's a quick sample:

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Mahler Madness in LA – One Fan’s Story

musical notes

Editor's Note: Fan Fariba G. attended each of the 9 Mahler symphonies that made up The Mahler Project here in LA, including the performance of Mahler 8 at the Shrine Auditorium. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on Mahler with us. The above Mahler-inspired image, entitled "Mahler is Life," was provided via email by fan Elda C.

What can I say about Mahler's music? It's all about yearning, longing, gut-wrenching despair - it moves you like no other music. I think those who don't like Mahler's music are those afraid of allowing themselves to feel deep inside, to ask themselves questions of life and death and meaning. His music is abstract and can be interpreted many different ways, into many emotional layers.

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Leif Ove Andsnes is Mad About Mahler

While at Walt Disney Concert Hall for his recital last week, Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes was kind enough to take a few moments to talk about his Mahler Madness.

Andsnes will be back at Walt Disney Concert Hall next October for an all-Beethoven program with Gustavo Dudamel - part of the pianist's ongoing "Beethoven: A Journey" project - but prior to that, he'll be playing a selection of songs by Mahler and Shostakovich at several halls across the US before winging back to California in June to act in his capacity as Music Director for the Ojai Music Festival.

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Best Seat In The House

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.

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The “Madness of Mahler’s Scores” – An Assessment

Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil

With a moment or two to breathe before the whirlwind that will be the Venezuela leg of The Mahler Project begins, it seems like a good time to look back on the project's course here in LA. And who better to do it than the cheeky West Coast Sound blogger for the LA Weekly?

With a title like "Mahlerpalooza: Gustavo Dudamel Makes L.A. the Mahler Capital of North America," It sounds to us like the LA Weekly approves of a town like Los Angeles being overtaken by Mahler Madness. Here's our favorite part of their assessment:

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And Now For Something Completely Different…

If Gustavo leading more than 1,000 musicians in Mahler 8 can only be described as "epic" or "historic," then surely Gustavo (along with Elmo) conducting a sheep, an octopus and a choir of penguins singing Beethoven's Ninth would HAVE to be called...well, stupendous.

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Mahler 8 – One Down, One To Go

Saturday, FEB 4 will be a day that goes down in history for the LA Phil.

It's not just that The Mahler Project was an ambitious undertaking - it was that, for sure. After all, a single conductor leading two orchestras through nine (and a half, by some estimates) symphonies in three weeks is no walk in the park.

And it's not just that the spirit of Gustav Mahler made his namesake, LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, take him at his word when he named his Eighth Symphony the "Symphony of a Thousand." He did. After all, when the final count was in, just over 1,000 musicians crowded onto the stage at the Shrine Auditorium to produce a concert so grand in scale that it's unlikely to be replicated in the near future. Right?

Wrong. Because it WILL be replicated - in less than two weeks, from another country, on another continent. But, thanks to LA Phil LIVE, we'll all be able to see it - here in the U.S., in Canada, in Europe and Asia.

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Worth A Thousand Words, Part III – The Big Day

Gustavo Dudamel takes the podium in front of more than 1,000 musicians for one last run-through of Mahler 8.
Gustavo Dudamel takes the podium in front of more than 1,000 musicians for one last run-through of Mahler 8.

Three weeks of The Mahler Project here in Los Angeles, all leading up to this.

Tonight, of course, is the once-in-a-lifetime performance of Mahler 8, the "Symphony of a Thousand," at the Shrine Auditorium.

Over 1,000 musicians. Two orchestras. One conductor. And more than 6,000 concert-goers in attendance to see the music of Mahler at its most grand.

These photos are from today's dress rehearsal - just imagine what it will look like tonight.

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