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.
I discovered Mahler when my attention was attracted by a picture of a huge choir and large orchestra on the cover of Leonard Bernstein’s 1966 recording of the Mahler 8 with the London Symphony Orchestra. For years this was "my Mahler." Eventually, I made up my mind to attend a performance somewhere in the world. The first time was about four years ago. I went to see the Philadelphia Symphony perform it. My Mahler fire was lit. I wanted as much Mahler as I could get. Then LA Phil LIVE came to Anchorage. Seeing Gustavo and the LA Philharmonic perform a Mahler Symphony in the beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall was quickly added to my “bucket list.” I emailed the Phil and asked when they were going to do another Mahler piece. They told me of The Mahler Project. After much thought, agonizing, and planning, I chose my own series, all nine symphonies. I also invested in CD’s and DVD’s and books about Mahler and his music, and began to study his life and music.
Attending the Mahler Project has been one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced. Seeing the young Venezuelan musicians produced by El Sistema perform added another wonderful dimension as did the pre-concert lectures and the two ALOUD events that I attended.
Bravo and thank you to all of the participants in this huge project and especially to Maestro Dudamel for undertaking this massive project.