I just got back from the SF Symphony performance of Mahler's Ninth Symphony. It was a most amazing experience, in a most unexpected way. I'm writing this partly as my way of reliving and duplicating what occurred, and partly to keep myself from being stuck in the win of it for the rest of time.
A stunning story here. I love the concept of not only silence being a part of the performance, but the way in which the music and the conductor come together to create the space to make it happen. Storytellers should be aware of this type of direction.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
The speaker made the point that Mahler gives the second violins their own voice, rather than merely having them give depth or support to the first violins. Because of this, he said the conductor (Herbert Blomstedt) had decided to use a placement of the performers that was becoming common in Europe for the Ninth.
Instead of having all the violins on the left of the conductor, with the 1st violins on the outside and the 2nd violins on the inside, he was placing the 1st violins in their usual position, but the second violins would be on the right side of the conductor. This would have the effect of separating the voices so they could be more easily heard. ❧
November 29, 2018 at 11:11AM
The conductor became frozen, with his arms in the air, just as when he was conducting.
And he was still conducting! Only now he was conducting the silence! No one moved, the concert hall was completely enveloped in peace. With the conductor’s arms still up, and the violin bows still poised above the strings, no one dared to applaud. If they were wrong and it was not the end, their clapping would be a rude interruption of the music. And I’m sure that was exactly what the conductor intended! ❧
November 29, 2018 at 11:15AM
Hat tip: Turning Points by Ron Chester