GEORGE GERSHWIN • Cuban Overture
ALBERTO GINASTERA • Danzas de Estancia, Op. 8a
GUSTAV MAHLER • Symphony No. 1 in D (1884–88)
Duration of concert approx. 2 hours 5 minutes.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
When I first conducted the Infantil Orchestra three years ago in Caracas, I could not believe that children as young as nine and never older than 14 could not only play all the notes, but also could make such wonderful music. It is exhilarating and life-enhancing. So I had no hesitation in accepting the invitation of Alexander Pereira and Maestro Abreu to conduct Mahler 1 with the Infantil Orchestra (even younger this time) at the 2013 Festival. This is, quite simply, the future of music. Those of you lucky enough to hear the concerts will see why. Simon Rattle
When the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra was initiated in 2010 by José Antonio Abreu, Simon Rattle took the podium himself and conducted the first-ever concert of the new Venezuelan children’s orchestra at the Aula Magna of the University of Caracas. 377 children between the ages of eight and 13 played works by Gershwin, Fauré and Ginastera with great passion and musical seriousness. The fact that this young ensemble also dared to play Mahler’s Symphony No 1, however, astonished all those present – and was rewarded with standing ovations. This summer, the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra embarks upon its first tour abroad, following the invitation of the Salzburg Festival – but “only” with about 250 members. And once again, it will be Simon Rattle who conducts the children’s orchestra in its international debut.
However, some of the children will be different from three years ago, for in the meantime, many of the young musicians have grown out of the children’s orchestra, moving on to perform in one of Venezuela’s youth orchestras. The Salzburg programme once again features Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 as the central work, in addition to Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and Danzas de Estancia by the Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera. The latter will be conducted by 18-year-old Jesús Parra, the latest child prodigy to come of out El Sistema. Apart from these two concerts at the Felsenreitschule, the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra will encounter various ensembles in Salzburg which are implementing the idea of El Sistema in their own countries – for example, the Austrian initiative superar or the Turkish children’s orchestra “Music for Peace”. On August 7, there will also be a public orchestral rehearsal with the Mozart Children’s Orchestra of the Mozarteum Foundation.
Untitled, © Eva Schlegel
The Nine Symphonies
“To me, symphony means: building a world, using all the means of existing technique.” This widely quoted statement by Gustav Mahler about his Symphony No. 3 could also stand as a motto for his entire oeuvre. His world was the Danube Monarchy, which had long become hopelessly disparate in its variety and all its contradictions and contrasts – and this also gave rise to the stylistic oppositions, extreme contrasts and astounding simultaneities typical of Mahler: he incorporated not only natural sounds and folk songs, but also military marches, brass band fanfares and dance music into his works for the bourgeois concert hall, giving them equal standing next to honourable “high art” – for which one of his critics suggested sticking the composer in jail for a few years. His approach was too daring and novel to remain uncontested, or to find broad and spontaneous acclaim. Marches leading to death, like in the finale of the Sixth, or accompanying a funeral procession that starts out measured, but then explodes into madness, as in the first movement of the Fifth; the fact that time and again, death seems to be fiddling ghostly waltzes, polkas cover up desperation, and Klezmer strains manage to laugh amidst tears – all these things were realized in music by Mahler “first of all, and in this form, only by him” (H. H. Eggebrecht). What we hear is reflected multiple times: music about music. Mahler’s œuvre points beyond the character of illustration, of mere amassing and inventory-taking, but it also formulates an utopia which he called a “longing beyond the things of this world” and which made him intervene in his own music, in the double sense – for example in the famous “breakthrough” of Symphony No. 1. “I tell you, at times some passages seem eerie even to me, and it seems to me as if I hadn’t written them myself. One is merely an instrument, so to speak, upon which the universe plays.”
by Alexander Pereira and Florian Wiegand
THE PROGRAMME 2014
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