Mahler 8th CD recording

One of my great disappointments of moving to New York halfway through the 2005-2006 season was that I would miss the recording of Mahler's 8th Symphony as part of the Mahler cycle. But the symphony wasn't happy with the lineup of soloists that it had assembled, so it decided to not record that spring. And since soloists of the caliber they wanted are scheduled two years in advance, they rescheduled the recording in 2008.

When I visited the Bay Area for a wedding earlier this summer, I went to see the chorus perform, and stopped by to say hi. The chorus administrator, Greg Boals, teased me by asking why I hadn't signed up to sing on the Mahler recording, and I said "Um, because I live in New York?" So as soon as I decided to move back to California, I gave Greg a call and said "Um, so, about the Mahler - is it too late to sign up?" He said "Actually, we're looking for 15 more auxiliary singers to fill out the chorus - can you be here in two weeks for an audition?" The date he mentioned turned out to be when I was going to be in California anyway looking for housing, so it worked out great. I re-auditioned for the new chorus conductor, Ragnar Bohlin, and was accepted to join the Mahler chorus.

It was quite a trip down memory lane as the majority of the chorus remembered me even though it had been two and a half years since I had left. The hardest part was actually getting my voice back - I hadn't sung at all in New York, so my vocal stamina was gone (my voice would start giving out halfway through the three hour rehearsals) and I had lost some of the technique and skill necessary to make my voice sound good over different registers. Mahler's 8th is also a very strenuous piece vocally, as it requires extended singing at extreme ranges and high volumes. But it helped that I had performed the piece before, and my voice came back eventually.

We recorded for the CD live at four concerts in mid-November. The concerts went extremely well - Joshua Kosman, the Chronicle critic, said that MTT had mastered the symphony for the first time. I particularly enjoyed the concerts, as I had missed the rush of performing in front of a crowd of three thousand, and the elation of getting a roar from that crowd during the ovations afterwards. It also helped that I had friends and family at each of the concerts cheering me on.

It was also a pleasure and a privilege to work under the guidance of Michael Tilson Thomas again. See my MTT page for some specific stories.

I don't know if I'll sign up for the chorus again next year - commuting up from Mountain View was quite an ordeal, and Google is keeping me busy. But if I don't go back to it, this was definitely a fitting concert with which to end my chorus tenure. And I definitely look forward to the release of the CD in a year as a commemoration of my time with the chorus (and if it earns a Grammy, even better :) ).

The symphony site has program notes available.

Reviews of our performance:

Updated in August of 2009: The CD is now available. You can watch a thrilling preview on YouTube, purchase it directly from the Symphony or get it on iTunes.
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