Two views of Mahler’s Second

I’m back at Tanglewood, for the last time this summer, to perfom Mahler’s Second (aka “Resurrection”) Symphony with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the BSO. This will be only the second time that I’ve performed the work, and the contrast is pretty significant.

This time, I can hit the high B that the tenors have in the last movement (the only movement in which the chorus sings). I feel as though I’m in command of the music. We’re singing mixed—two tenors next to two sopranos on one side, two altos on the other, and two basses in front of us—which was common under Seiji Ozawa but which we are doing for the first time since I joined the chorus last summer (not counting Pops performances). This means that each of us has to totally know the music—especially since we’re singing from memory.

Last time? Last time was over twelve years ago. The Virginia Glee Club had been invited to join several other Virginia choruses in a performance in Roanoke, which I remember (somewhat improbably) as taking place in a large basketball arena, and that the singers were in the upper bleachers. And I remember driving there with Don Webb and Eric Rothwell, in Webb’s Japanese import with the license plate VMHLB2, and listening to Prince as we talked about the music that we were singing that season. And improbably, on that two hour drive between Charlottesville and Roanoke, just as we were discussing the endless mass that we had been performing all year, which was written by Cristobal de Morales and based on a well known medieval “Ave Maria” chant, the Prince disk worked its way around to “Sexy MF.”

And somehow, someone was singing along to the Ave Maria chant at the same time someone else was singing along to the Prince tune, which yielded “Ave Ma-ri–a…” “shakin” that ass, shakin’ that ass!”

At which point I realized that we were all going to Hell. Forever.

For this reason, my memory of Mahler’s Second is a little dim. So I’m glad I have a chance to do it properly.