Funny how certain pieces of music have a way of appearing in our lives just when we need them.
Emil Orlik’s etching of Mahler (1902)
After my grandmother died last year and her funeral was over, I was eager to get back to normal life. At that time MasterVoices was hard at work rehearsing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony — the “Resurrection” symphony, written in honor of a friend of his who died unexpectedly. We’d started the season with it, performing with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and we ended the season with the same piece, then with the New York Youth Orchestra — just a week or two after her funeral. The piece was a vessel for my grief, exactly what I needed to sing at that moment.
Well. As I noted in my previous post, my grandfather died last month. Just a few days before it happened I got an email from MasterVoices saying that we’d been asked to participate in another performance of Mahler’s 2nd, this time under the baton of George Mathew as a benefit for HelpMeSee, an organization that is fighting to end cataract blindness. I wasn’t going to sing it — we just finished Bach’s St. John Passion, this concert will take place four days later. I figured I might need a break (and, more importantly, I need to finish my novel draft by the end of the month to submit it to Jersey City Writers to be workshopped in March!).
But then my grandfather died. I remembered how much the piece helped me after grandma’s death, it seemed wrong to turn down the opportunity perform it once more — and coming so soon after my grandpa’s death, it just felt like more than a coincidence. Like they say, you can ‘call it odd, or call it God,’ but coincidences like this can’t be purely accidental.
So I said yes. The performance will take place this Monday at Carnegie Hall (click here for tickets). It is truly one of the most glorious pieces of music to sing. When we sang it with the IPO I didn’t have the loss of loved ones weighing on me, and even then I couldn’t sing it without tearing up by the end. I’ll probably look a mess after the concert this Monday, tear-filled as I’ll surely be, but I’m looking forward to it.
Please attend and support a wonderful cause!
(Somewhat semi-unrelated, but a few years ago I wrote a piece on Verdi’s Requiem and how it has had a similar way of calling me to it under interesting circumstances. I looked it up just now and saw that it was written on 11 February 2015 — two years ago to the day! Call it odd, or call it God.)
Here’s a link to a video of the final movement of the symphony, the part that features the chorus. (WordPress has changed its structure and won’t allow me to insert the video into the post as I used to do without buying an upgrade package. Grrrrr!!)