Gustav Mahler, at center, influenced LA more than most people know; his friends and devotees with connections to LA included (clockwise from top left) his wife Alma; and composers/conductors Otto Klemperer, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, Arnold Schoenberg and Bruno Walter.
More than midway through The Mahler Project, not much has been talked yet about Mahler in Los Angeles.
Mahler in Los Angeles? He never set foot on the West Coast, much as he would have liked to. As conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Mahler invented orchestral touring and visited 12 cities in the Northeastern U.S. in 1909-10. Had he lived longer, he might have made it out West and maybe to Los Angeles.
Photo of Gustavo Dudamel and Martin Chalifour courtesy of the LA Times
Well, here we are.
We've entered a sort of "endgame" for The Mahler Project here in LA. The Project will roll on for two more weeks in Venezuela after the final, haunting notes of Mahler 9 fade into the warm afternoon air on FEB 5 - but after next Sunday, the grand effort we know as The Mahler Project is over in the United States.
That is, until FEB 18, when people around the country will be able to walk, drive, bike or skip to their local movie theaters, order a large popcorn and sit back to enjoy the "Symphony of a Thousand" live from Caracas, Venezuela as party of LA Phil LIVE.
That said, there's still plenty of Mahler to be had this week. Here's what's happening, Mahler-wise:
Editor's note: This post was written by Daniel Berkowitz, the LA Phil's YOLA Manager.
During a break in the action last week, nearly 30 musicians from the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela visited our two YOLA sites: YOLA at HOLA, our partnership with Heart of Los Angeles, and YOLA at EXPO, our partnership with Harmony Project and EXPO Center. EXPO, HOLA and SBSOV are preparing for a side-by-side concert on JAN 30 - it's right around the corner!
Contrary to popular belief, the music of Mahler isn't all sunshine and light...
What makes the symphony-ending hammer blows in Mahler 6 happen here at the LA Phil
We're being facetious, of course, as Mahler's symphonies are famously dense and more than a little somber throughout - LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel noted in his post-concert talk after a performance of Mahler 1 that "no one loved to suffer more than Mahler." And, if there's a symphony that proves this fact, it's Mahler 6. After all, a symphony doesn't get to be known popularly as "The Tragic (der Tragische) without earning a reputation for being on the dark side - it ends with three crushing hammer blows - but, true to form, Mahler composed the work at a relatively happy time in his life.
Here are a couple of facts about Mahler 6 that you might not know:
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.
If you're a regular attendee of programs here at Walt Disney Concert Hall, you've likely seen BP Hall - it's where we usually hold out Upbeat Live pre-concert talks.
Chances are good, though, that you've never seen it packed with more than 200 members of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela - we held a little party to welcome them to LA and to thank them for shouldering some of the load of The Mahler Project. Here's what it looked like:
It's easy to assume that what you see is what you get - for example, even though we may know objectively that The Mahler Project is an enormous undertaking with many moving parts, that fact can sometimes be obscured or forgotten when we see the final product. Orchestra rehearses, orchestra plays - right?
Well...no. Take the upcoming Mahler 8, for example. We know it's referred to as Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand," and we know that Gustavo Dudamel is leading the LA Phil, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and around 800 other musicians in the performance on FEB 4 at LA's Shrine Auditorium and on FEB 18 at the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas - we know all that, but here's a question - where and how does such a massive ensemble rehearse?