It's safe to say the LA Phil's inaugural performance in Caracas was a success.
There's been no shortage of excitement surrounding the orchestra's first visit to the home city of Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. After all, the orchestra was warmly welcomed at the airport by El Sistema founder and Dudamel mentor Maestro José Antonio Abreu. The LA Phil's concerts in Caracas - ticket price $8 - sold out in mere hours. The energy surrounding the visit has been, as they say, electric.
However, according to all reports, the orchestra wasn't in any way prepared for the welcome given them by the audience for their first performance of Mahler 9.
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.
After so much planning and arrangements, meetings and discussions; after the wonderful time we spent in LA with spectacular concerts and tremendous successes, the LA Phil was greeted yesterday by an ecstatic Caracas audience.
And what a trip it's been! The Bolivars have been doing their part for The Mahler Project in their home town, with as much success as they had in LA -- beautiful audiences composed of all ages and walks of life gathered themselves in the José Felix Ribas Hall of the landmark Teresa Carreño Theater to bask in the brilliance and enormity of Mahler's works.
Well, the wheels are up, the seatbelt sign is lit and the orchestra is winging its way to Caracas to do The Mahler Project all over again!
The cargo - you know, little things like instruments - is already in Venezuela, accompanied by LA Phil Production Director extraordinaire Paul Geller. In fact, the equipment is likely already at the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, patiently awaiting the arrival of the orchestra. The instruments won't have to wait long, though - the first performance of Mahler 9 is at 6:00pm Caracas time tomorrow night!
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.