Monday, November 22, 2010

"Symphony of a Thousand"

A week ago, I came home from an evening rehearsal convinced that the only thing worse than a 12-hour-non-stop day, already very exhausting and headache-inducing, was ending said day with eight Mahler soloists belting from their location only two feet behind my head in a rehearsal for Mahler's 8th Symphony, the so-called "Symphony of a Thousand."

It was a big undertaking for the two orchestras and three choruses combining forces for the performances. It was much talked about.

Last night I came home from the second and final performance of the symphony convinced that it was worth it.

It was worth a week of 8am to 11pm days. It was worth experiencing real, aching pain in my ears from the proximity of the soloists.

It was an experience.

At the end of it all, the conductor cried.

It was, apparently, "A Tsunami of Ecstasy." (Gee whiz.)

I'm happy to say that I slept eight hours last night and I feel like a new person. A person who can survive the next couple of days until Thanksgiving break begins.

Mahler 8 is, in short, about redemption. The first part, set in Latin and based on the text "Veni, creator spiritus," and the second half, a German setting of the final scene from Goethe's Faust, are unified by this concept. Redemption.

"O God," sings Pater Profundus, "Bring light to my needy heart!"

Of course, skipping to the end of such a work is cheating oneself of the whole experience, but in case you're the kind of person who reads the last chapter before deciding whether or not to read a book, here you go: The Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

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