Mahler 5- on the way home

No time for a proper blog here at Seattle Airport, and in all honesty, I think it’s too soon to try to sum up such a memorable, exciting and exhausting weekend.

I was so glad that Pendleton came out and supported us for this concert- our best crowd in a long time, and an instant, screamin’-hollerin’-whoopin’ standing ovation, which the orchestra had more than earned. I was a little worried about turnout- a lot of people worry to me, and eventually I start to fear they may be right. On top of that, we didn’t have a soloist on this concert, it’s a more difficult and abstract piece than the 3 Mahler’s we’ve done so far, it was a Sunday concert (usually 20% less audience for Sundays- don’t ask me why we bother!), and the economy hasn’t been helping ticket sales through the year. To get such a huge turnout meant a lot, and made for an electric atmosphere.

I really shouldn’t have worried. I had a lovely chat on the morning of the concert with a member of the OES Chorale. She was very excited to be coming to Mahler 5 that afternoon, and talked with me a lot about her experience of singing Mahler 2 with us at the beginning of this crazy project. She said that for the last 10 minutes of the piece she, and most of the people around her, just couldn’t stop crying, and that she was shaking all over at the end. I remembered exactly what she was talking about, but time breeds skepticism, and after a few years it’s hard to believe a performance can actually affect people like that (and I was glad for the reminder!), but, of course, that’s what Mahler is all about. Turning you upside down and inside out, stretching musicians and listeners to their limits. When people worry that a rural audience won’t get it, you just have to remind them that Mahler was first and foremost a communicator- give him the audience (and a great orchestra), and he does the rest.

It was great to see the sheer energy, love of music and generally vibrant spirit the OES musicians bring to Pendleton. Everywhere we went in the concert weekend, musicians were talking, laughing, spending money. They even got involved in the local music scene, when a gang of our players sat in with James Kindle and the Eastern Oregon Playboys at the Rainbow on Saturday night after the dress rehearsal. In exchange, the Playboys and their posse came to the Mahler and cheered everyone on.

Anyway, more later, when jetlag has eased. I miss the piece already, but at least I’m doing it again in August at the Harlech academy. Hopefully, some of the Oregon gang will join us for that one.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Spread the word. Share this post!

About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

All material in these pages is protected by copyright.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *