February 6, 2012

Concert #623 - Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 at the Shrine Auditorium (Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel) (February 4, 2012)

Gustav Mahler
It was wall-to-wall Gustav last Saturday night at the Shrine Auditorium, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting a grandiose production of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, also known as the "Symphony Of A Thousand". It was also wall-to-wall musicians, around one thousand of them, the most I've ever seen on one stage, at one time.

Gustavo Dudamel
The Shrine Auditorium has a humongous stage to begin with, but to make it suitable for one thousand musicians, it had to be super-sized at the expense of the first twelve seat rows. That was good news to me and my Better Half, as our Row 27 tickets allowed us to be only fifteen rows away from the stage. Not bad. Watching the musicians file in and take their seats, all one thousand of them, was an event in itself.

The lights went off twenty-five minutes after the advertised show time, as the famed Gustavo Dudamel, accompanied by seven vocalists, took the stage to a rousing reception. An eighth vocalist joined the fun later.
 The Singers
Manuela Uhl (soprano)
Julianna Di Giacomo (soprano)
Kiera Duffy (soprano)
Anna Larsson (alto)
Charlotte Hellekant (alto)
Burkhard Fritz (tenor)
Brian Mulligan (baritone)
Alexander Vinogradov (bass)

Gustavo Dudamel got quite a workout conducting not one, but two full symphony orchestras merged into one - the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra were seated together so one could not distinguish one from the other.

In 2009, the imposing Mormon Tabernacle Choir knocked my socks off when I saw them perform live in Salt Lake City, yet - at least in terms of numbers - they would have paled in comparison to what was assembled for Mahler's 8th Symphony. Just imagine a conglomerate made up of sixteen different choirs, some of them nationally known, amounting to about eight hundred voices - it was a thrill just looking at them, let alone listening to their collective singing.

Pictures don't do justice to the size of the orchestra and choir

Los Angeles Master Chorale
Los Angeles Children's Chorus   
Angeles Chorale
Pacific Chorale
Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles
Angel City Chorale
Choir of All Saints Church, Pasadena
Chorus of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Chamber Choir
Los Robles Master Chorale
Pasadena Pro Musica
Pasadena Master Chorale
Philippine Chamber Singers of Los Angeles
Renaissance Arts Academy
Vox Femina Los Angeles
National Children’s Chorus

I can't say that the music hit me particularly hard, but it was certainly enjoyable. I liked the crescendos that wrapped up the two parts of the symphony and I enjoyed watching Gustavo Dudamel's body language. 

Standing ovation!
Standing ovation!
The gorgeous Shrine Auditorium
Wall decorations at the Shrine

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