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TSO's Open Rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony #6

Today I went to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Open Rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony # 6.
It was different from other open rehearsals I've been to. We were given headsets so that we could hear commentary by the TSO's Composer-Advisor, Gary Kulesha. It was pretty cool!

Thomas Dausgaard conducted. He was very expressive with his gestures. Sometimes he used the baton and sometimes he didn't. Gary Kulesha pointed out that it's pretty hard on the conductor physically when he conducts. The baton seems to make it easier on the conductor's back. It was a huge orchestra! There must have been about 100 people on the stage. I think it would be easier for them all to see him when he's using the baton.

The rehearsal started with the Scherzo. What I noticed was that the musicians were all familiar with the music and the conductor helped them understand how he wanted them to do the articulation, the bowing (for the glissandos) and the dynamics. It was cool finding out that Mahler's daughters were born while he was composing this symphony.

Jonathan Crow is the TSO's Concertmaster and it was really nice seeing him in action. When they were trying to figure out how they would do the glissandos he played one of them two different ways and the  Conductor told them which one he wanted. And then all of the violins played the glissando with the exact same bowing.

The second thing the Conductor worked on was the Andante Moderato. (This is where he conducted without the baton for part of it.) The first time they went through it, he asked the orchestra to keep tempo on their own. The second time they did it, he showed them exactly what he wanted. There were parts where he needed to focus on the pitch and parts where he had to make sure that all of the instruments came in on time.

The last thing they worked on was the first movement, the Allegro Energico, Ma Non Troppo. This was my favourite part. They worked on the second part of the movement first and then they went back to the beginning. I guess they work on it the way I work on music too. I work on the tricky parts and then start from the beginning.

It's strange that when Gustav Mahler first wrote Symphony #6 that people didn't like it right away. It's now one of my favourite works of music ever.

I wish I could go to the actual performance to compare but Mom won't let me go this Thursday because I have an exam on Friday morning and I need to be well rested.

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