AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Here comes “The Mahler Project”

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 A shorter verion of this article
published today in the above papers.

 

By any standard, the numbers are as gargantuan as a Mahler
symphony: More than 800 choristers from 16 different ensembles. Over 700
minutes of music. 200+ instrumentalists. 17 performances over a 24-day period.
Nine soloists. Nine symphonies plus a portion of a 10th and one song
cycle. Two orchestras. Two concert halls. One composer. One conductor.

 

Those are just some of the numbers for the Los Angeles
Philharmonic’s “Mahler Project,” which will run from January 13 through
February 5 at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Shrine Auditorium in Los
Angeles. The sweeping enterprise will commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the death of the great Austrian composer-conductor Gustav Mahler
(which actually took place on May 18, 1911).

 

Gustavo Dudamel — music director of the two orchestras
participating in this extravaganza, the L.A. Phil and the Simn Bolivr
Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela — will lead every performance. The Bolivrs
will play four of the symphonies and the L.A. Phil will play five (including
the Adagio, the only section of
Symphony No. 10 that Mahler completed before he died). To conclude the cycle,
the two ensembles will combine and join more 800 choristers and eight soloists
for the Symphony No. 8 on Feb. 4 at the Shrine Auditorium, one of the few times
in history when that work’s subtitle, “Symphony of a Thousand,” will be fact as
well as appellation.

 

Moreover, the above numbers don’t tell the full story. Following
the Feb. 5 concert, both orchestras will pack up and head to Caracas, Venezuela
where they will perform the entire cycle again: nine concerts in 12 days.
Altogether more than 60,000 people will view the 27 performances lives, plus many
thousands more in movie theatres when the Caracas performance of “Symphony of a
Thousand” is telecast on Feb. 18.

 

The “Project” (not exactly why the Phil used that word but
it’s better than yet another “festival”) begins Jan. 13, 14 and 15 in Disney
Hall when Dudamel — who will turn age 31 during the cycle on January 26 — will
lead the L.A. Phil and soprano Miah Persson in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. Also on
the program is Songs of a Wayfarer,
with Thomas Hampson as soloist.

 

The following weekend (Jan. 19, 20 and 21), Dudamel and the
L.A. Phil will perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10. The first symphony has significant
memories for Dudamel. It was the first big symphonic piece he conducted (at age
16) and was also part of his first Disney Hall concert as LAPO music director
in 2009.

 

For complete information on “The Mahler Project,” log onto
www.laphil.com.

 

Tuesday: “Ten
Things You Might Not Know About the Mahler Project”

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.