There's no shortage of media coverage surrounding The Mahler Project - it's a big project, after all - but one of the more interesting perspectives on the whole thing is coming from Laurie Niles, the editor of Violinist.com.
Laurie Martin and LA Phil Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour, courtesy of Violinist.com
As you might expect, her coverage is a little skewed towards the violin player - notes about tunings and tempos abound - but it's also got some gems, such as an interview with LA Phil Concertmaster Martin Chalifour where he discusses the instrument he plays as well as the challenges posed by the requirement of actually switching violins during Mahler 4.
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.
A few words that keep getting thrown around when discussing The Mahler Project: ambitious, monumental, massive.
But why? After all, orchestras have certainly presented Mahler cycles before – playing each of the composer’s nine symphonies in a short period. However, we think The Mahler Project is quite special. Let’s look at the numbers.
Nine symphonies. Two continents. Two orchestras. And one conductor.
That’s not even taking into account the (literally) 1,000 musicians that will crowd onto the stage of the Shrine Auditorium here in LA (and the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas) to perform Mahler 8, the so-called “Symphony of a Thousand.” A thousand is a big number for one stage. And this doesn’t even begin to factor in the logistics of moving Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela 3,600 miles to Caracas, Venezuela to do it all over again.