Mahler

Mahler Second Symphony at Carnegie Hall – Chapter 15

Chapter 15 tells the story of my mother and aunt attending the Chorus Pro Musica performance at Carnegie Hall. I had sung with the chorus for years in Boston, but the trip from Delaware was too long for my mother to attend any of the performances. We were both pretty excited, then, that she could hear the chorus in New York. On top of that, the performance would be at Carnegie Hall and she could bring her sister.

 

Don Palumbo was the director of the chorus by that time. He prepared us for weeks in Boston before the trip to New York. One memorable time resulted from his listening to our dress rehearsal, and giving us directions as to how to improve our performance. First here is some background: a “throw away” is a term in music performance for a note or short phrase that is given so little emphasis that it becomes almost inaudible. Additionally, the secondary title of the Mahler Second is “The Crucifixion.” Now, returning to our story, Don was giving us corrections for our performance. He pointed out that one phrase was performed so poorly that it sounded like a “throw away”. With a perfectly straight face, he admonished us in a loud voice, “This is the Crucifixion, people! There are no ‘throw aways’!”

 

While Mom, Aunt Clara, and I were visiting in Central Park, Mom told me for what I believe was the first time, that she had sung in the recital hall at Carnegie in the 1940’s. I thought about this for years, wondering her motivation. It would be very uncharacteristic of my mother to brag. I don’t recall her ever bragging about anything. What I have concluded is that there probably were two motivations. One was to let me know that we shared a similar exciting experience, and the second was to let me know that this would be a day in my life that I would never forget.

 

And she was right.