When I was a student at Indiana University, we were required to take quite a few music history classes. I was encouraged to find a course with the legendary Dr. Peter Brown, and the only thing that ever fit in my schedule was his Mahler survey, which I took in my very last semester of my Masters degree. Oh, how I remember the struggle to absorb the gargantuan forms of Mahler's symphonies. And, oh, how I remember a slightly curmudgeonly professor absolutely glow in his rapture at discussing these works. As hard as it was to do well in the course, the course certainly did well by me. Now we in Los Angeles have the Mahler Project. How foolish I was to wonder who would pay to hear all these symphonies played in just a few weeks. It is a wonder that I live in a city that gets so excited about these kinds of events. On my tight budget unfortunately I could only go to Mahler 5. The performance was last night and my first opportunity to witness the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra live. [I do dream of a time when we would celebrate our own North American youth and young people's orchestras while I celebrate the achievements of El Sistema.] Pasion [the catchphrase for Mo. Dudamel's first season] is right. The performers moved with the same energy as the conductor while clearly enjoying the grandiose moments. I missed some more subtle shadings but did get wrapped up (as did the entire audience it seemed) in the joy for performing for the sake of art and of expression, in the uniqueness of Mahler's voice, and the sense of living in the moment.
On February 4 I will be fortunate enough to be one of the many (and I do mean many) participants in a once in a lifetime chance to be a part of the legendary "Symphony of a Thousand." Already the rehearsals have been thrilling. Tomorrow we will get to put the chorus together and see how well we can hold together. I feel so lucky and eager. I dedicate my participation to Dr. Brown and hope to keep delving further into this music and someday conduct it myself.