Tomorrow: Mahler concert broadcast from Caracás promises to be grander than grand opera


Gustavo Dudamel led performances of Mahler's Eighth at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles last week (Los Angeles Philharmonic photo). Tomorrow, it's Venezuela.

In a post from Caracás, Venezuela, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed describes the overwhelming sound, energy and sheer number of people gathered to perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 — the Symphony of a Thousand — under conductor Gustavo Dudamel tomorrow at the Teatro Teresa Carreno.

Swed writes that there are 1,207 instrumentalists and singers, making this possibly the largest gathering ever to perform the work. Counting among them are the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (which we had the pleasure of experiencing in Toronto a couple of seasons ago) and youthful choristers from across the country.

Here’s a paragraph from Swed’s account of yesterday’s rehearsal:

Dudamel mostly rehearsed the first part of the symphony. Mahler divided the choruses in two and included separate children’s choir.  The two main choruses made their presence known with a magnificent mass that could also turn quiet. The children sang their parts from memory. At the break, all had to stay in place because it would have taken far too long to get them on and off stage. They have also been instructed on how to close ranks if someone faints during a performance. It’s hot on stage, their quarters are close and kids faint easily.

The concert is being shown at Cineplex theatres that usually show opera on Saturday afternoons. Cineplex promises special intermission features on Dudamel, Venezuela’s el Sistema music education program, and the country itself.

Check here for times and tickets.

John Terauds

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