Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Resurrection

Much as I can whine and moan about San Francisco being a cultural backwater -- at least when compared to Paris, New York or Barcelona -- I am often surprised to see that it has much more going for it than I give it credit for having.

Last night I went to the symphony which had a prelude of our mayor -- er, Lieutenant Governor candidate -- presenting Michael Tilson Thomas with the cadre of Grammys won earlier this year. Besides the Mayor's out of turn reference to Jerry Garcia, it was a wonderful evening with Tilson Thomas conducting Mahler's Second or "Resurrection" Symphony. What a perfect prelude to spring with all it's bombast and redemption emerging out of despair. I remember it being a favorite during the early days of HIV/AIDS, and there has been enough distance from that era for the words to have a new resonance.

O believe,
You were not born for nothing!
Have not for nothing, lived, suffered!

What was created
Must perish,
What perished, rise again!

Cease from trembling!
Prepare yourself to live!

O Pain, You piercer of all things,
From you, I have been wrested!
O Death, You masterer of all things,
Now, are you conquered!

With wings which I have won me,
In love’s fierce striving,
I shall soar upwards
To the light which no eye has penetrated!
Its wing that I won is expanded,
and I fly up.

I am not sure if I would put Bernstein's version above Tilson Thomas', but I was always deeply moved when Bernstein conducted the Vienna Symphony and reinstated Mahler as part of the repertoire after a long absence and against objections of many of the musicians. It seemed to serve as an appropriate resurrection of Mahler himself, and a reminder to me of the importance of patience on many fronts

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