LA Phil Blog

The Calm Before The Mahler Storm

The Calm Before The Mahler Storm

Growing up in central Oklahoma, there was a weather pattern we were used to in the same way residents of Southern California are used to the Santa Ana winds: springtime thunderstorms. As I understand it, they are the result of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico colliding with cold, dry air from up in Canada and the northern plains. If conditions were just right and you were in just the right place, you could experience the sudden change from warm to cold and feel Mother Nature at work.

I always enjoyed this rare treat, as the atmosphere was inevitably very calm and still, but in the distance you could see the clouds heading your way. As they grew closer, the energy of the storm began to fill the air with tension and excitement and there was a sense of nature charging itself up. Once the storm arrived, the cleansing rush of water was only interrupted by the thrilling flashes of lightning and percussive claps of thunder. Seen from a certain perspective, these storms were an exciting and beautiful display of nature.

As we began The Mahler Project last week, there was this same sense of electricity in the air as we embarked on this month-long journey through the genius' symphonic opuses. Beginning with his Fourth Symphony, we enjoyed a calm and serene introduction to the project as this work is almost classical compared to the other behemoths he constructed. But one look at the schedule suggested that things would soon be erupting in a stormy mix of symphonies, venues and personnel. Right now, two symphonies in, there is STILL a buzz in the air as we hunker down for what is proving to be an enjoyably taxing journey.

As our northern orchestra meets its southern sister on stage and mixes with hundreds upon hundreds of voices, we indeed have in store for us a maelstrom of musical might. To be sure, it will be both exciting and beautiful.