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Emily Grossman

Resurrection Symphony

April 11, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Over the past week or two, I've begun three different entries that tasted about like yesterday's reheated coffee, so I just couldn't stand to finish them.  Well-written words come best from a fresh heart, but mine lies stale, still buried under a snow berm somewhere.

Who can help but be affected by the long winter that followed last summer's rain?  Upon spring breakup, we congratulate ourselves around town for surviving another one, but I can't help but think about all the horses at camp that have died in May.  It can't be coincidence that this is when they concede, but why?  It's almost as though they would have forgotten about heaven completely, had they not been reminded by the change of weather.

Yesterday it warmed up to 45 degrees.  The first migratory bird of the season, a varied thrush, sang from a spruce thicket as I walked with my dog along the soggy road.  Its plaintive, singular voice, along with the appearance of the sun, stabbed my heart with contrast, there next to the blanket of silent steady greys.  Hope hurts for all its reminders of what could be.  But faith encourages me to believe in the good that's still to come, even when tomorrow's forecast is snow. 

The next Anchorage Symphony concert is just around the corner, and Mahler's on the menu.  Number Two, "The Resurrection" came with a heavy amount of baggage; the personnel manager had preceded the music with an email attachment of the glossary of terms, and the conductor inserted a 3-page list of tempo markings in my music folder.  There were 21 tempo changes in the first movement alone.

I've never actually listened to an entire Mahler symphony; both lack of attention span and lack of band-width have prevented me.  So, each night, I sit down with the music, a metronome, and a pencil, and I follow each tempo marking carefully, paying particular attention to all the tricky key changes and accidentals along the way.  I think about elementary school and the tests teachers would give to see how good you were at following instructions.  If you did everything right, you'd have the punch line to a riddle or a pretty picture when you finished. 

I hope to get everything right, and I have faith that something beautiful will come to life when I assemble it with the rest of the musicians on Wednesday.  Right now,  though, I feel like I'm connecting dots, trying carefully to do exactly as I'm told. I draw my bow through the series of notes until time's up, and then I put it away, to be continued the next evening.

From Juergen L. Hemm
Posted on April 12, 2011 at 9:07 AM

...just some flowers to combat your winter blues.

Spring in Bamberg, Germany

Good luck with the Mahler.

:-) Juergen


From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 12, 2011 at 1:24 PM

I am sure you will do fine.  Mahler is very difficult, particularly since you are likely to be concentrating on trying to make every note ooze the appropriate excruciating inner torment.  Hard to concentrate on other aspects.  Have fun!

From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 12, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Thanks for the pretty picture, Juergen!  The sun is out today and the snow is already almost gone. 

Tom, I'm really looking forward to the symphony this weekend, and I think it's going to come together great.  I like how easy Mahler is to play compared to Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn.  And I've got this long winter stockpile of intense inner anguish to feed off of, so I'm good to go.  ;)

From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on April 12, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Good luck!

From Christina C.
Posted on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 PM


Sounds wonderful. Be sure to remember to enjoy yourself.

Kind of a contradiction of terms, but here's the lighter side of Mahler:



From Christina C.
Posted on April 13, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Ha! I missed your previous blog! The glossary had just resurfaced at another board.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Thanks anyway, Christina--it's a good one!

From Nicole Stacy
Posted on April 13, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Ha.  We're doing it too, and I have gotten the glossary of terms. :)

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