LA Phil Blog

Let The Mahler Project Begin!

Let The Mahler Project Begin!

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.

Now THAT’S monumental and ambitious, not to mention massive - and those are just the concerts themselves. Surrounding The Mahler Project are educational events, lectures, master classes with young musicians and youth orchestras. It’s an event for two entire organizations, two musical families and two countries, and it culminates in this season’s second LA Phil LIVE, in which Mahler 8 will be beamed live into movie theaters across the U.S. from Caracas.

And yet the Mahler Project, for its impressive size and scope, is really based on one man – LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel – and his career-long quest to understand Mahler. In this wonderful interview with the LA Times’ Mark Swed, Gustavo gives a little insight into his ongoing relationship with Mahler and his music.

Maybe the most telling line of the interview is here:

“[Dudamel] maintains that the larger appeal is the way in which Mahler looms so large in his career and imagination. He is driven to get deeper into the composer. He wants to follow the journey from the young man who in his late 20s wrote what might be the most confident first symphony in history to the dying composer who succumbed to a heart infection at 50 in 1911, by which time he seemed to have absorbed the weight of the world in his music.”

So, as the LA Phil, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, dozens of guest artists and audiences across two continents follow Gustavo on a journey to understand this intriguing composer, this blog will follow THAT journey. Stay tuned for a behind-the-scenes look at this monumental undertaking, including exclusive video, posts from artists, LA Phil staff and more.

Welcome to The Mahler Project!