A Response to a Kind Letter
Hey, Very thoughtful writing, yet again, it would have been a fine night of being surrounded by profound sound, I imagine. Maybe it was the amount of acoustical vibration that got everyone so excited? (Not that there’s any other kind of vibration – but that is a special place to listen.) -g
~composer, Gayle Young, Toronto
I agree. The vibrational thing over-ruled the exact musical thing. Also, I didn’t mention the off-stage trumpets at two points, and the off-stage trombones (which I never located), but were in balconies above the audience. And also making vibrational geschrei was the organ, at key points. The very first sound is a giant Eb major chord from the organ, an instant before you here the first instrumental entries. It switches you instantly into a different mode of listening. I also didn’t say in the essay, but mentioned to Ann that visual grandeur (= the sublime, in some quarters) like a huge cathedral, and auditory grandeur as in a huge orchestra and chorus have different needs: like a really great concert hall in the latter. So I wasn’t exactly a happy camper at St. John’s, but registered it as a moment of the “sublime” in experiential terms, probably for much of the audience. And cheered for that. The great church organist composers (Bach and others) did make both visual and auditory grandeur in the same place. But Mahler symphonies need different acoustics.
Thanks for your comments. Definitely adds to what I felt was going on, but didn’t really have the words for.