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Mahler 8, “Symphony of A Thousand”

31 Aug

Last week I was lucky enough to perform Mahler’s 8th symphony, aptly nicknamed “Symphony of a Thousand” as it pretty much feels like a thousand person ensemble. This might be the only time I’ll ever perform Mahler 8, as it’s one of the largest scale orchestral works in the classical repertoire.  With three distinct choruses and an extra large orchestra, our concert had about 500 performers.  Luckily, we performed in a huge music tent and had space/another balcony for most of the singers (A google search of “Mahler 8” will show you some pretty hilarious pictures of musicians piled on to each other in concert halls).

Action shot. Photo credit to catherinecussaguet.com

It’s really just awesome to play with choruses. Being in the middle of an orchestra is already powerful, and when large choirs start singing you can literally feel the sound all around you. To be honest, there were spots in rehearsal that I was so wrapped up in listening to the music all around me that I missed one or two entrances… oops!

Standing room only! Photo credit to catherinecussaguet.com

Like Beethoven 9, the libretto is about the eternal human spirit and the joy is so uplifting. The energy of so many people working together to create something beautiful is a magnificent experience, so if you ever see an advertisement for a live performance of Mahler 8, don’t even think about it – just go!

-Michelle

Maroon Bells

16 Aug

You can still spot some snow on the mountains!

My beautiful family was in town over the weekend, so we tried to fit the entire Aspen experience in two and a half days. With such a limited amount of time, I tried to take them to the most memorable places that I knew of, and I immediately thought of Maroon Bells.

The Bells are two bell-shaped peaks that are maroon in color from mudstone. There’s a stunning lake in the valley below the peaks, and the whole area was sculpted out of ice-age glaciers. If the Bells don’t blow you away, the scenic diversity should. On one side of the valley there are the snow capped bells, next to them is a green covered mountain, and on the other side are jagged red mountains reminiscent of a desert.

The desert looking rocks across from the Bells

As you walk up and around the trails, you see forests of Aspen trees for which the city is named. The trees look like they have eyes, and the indigenous population here had legends and mythology around them.

As the trees grow, the branches fall off leaving “eyes” behind.

Depending on how many people you’re with, there are two ways to get to the Bells if you don’t want to take the grueling bike ride up. You can drive in before 9am and past 5pm for a $10 parking fee, or you can take a $6 bus from 9-5pm with a guided tour explaining the history of the bells.  All the other parks and mountains in this area are free, so paying 6 dollars that will directly benefit the conservation of the area seems like a fair bargain.

Obligatory family photo!

If you’re ever in or around Aspen during the summer, the Maroon Bells are a must.  It was my third visit this summer , and it still blows me away every time.

Don’t feed the wildlife..

6 Aug

One of the perks about Aspen is that  you’re in the wild-west surrounded by nature. Most of the time you can find adorable disney-esque fawns all around trying to figure out why we visitors make such strange noises, but if you’re [un]lucky enough, you may just run into a bear. No one actually thinks they’ll see one since they generally stay away from populated areas during the daytime, which is why it’s crazy that there have been two sightings in the neighborhood this week. Both times near oboists, too!

A few days ago there was a young bear RIGHT in front of my place. My friend snapped this while I was at lunch, but had I been around I would have freaked out! I’m not sure how old it was, but if there was any chance mama bear was hiding in the bushes it would have been bad news.

Then a few days later, this gal was spotted just hanging out next to an oboist’s house. I found out that she decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in a tree, just hanging out. Imagine looking out your window and coming eye to eye with a bear…

tree hugger

All in all, it’s been a bear-y busy week for these guys (sorry, I had to!).

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