Hello Mahler lovers,
A quick update: we are still making excellent progress. You should stop in sometime and listen (it’s easy to sneak in the back and you’ll be amazed at the sound—I’m pretty sure Mahler himself is delighted.)
We are at about 50% of the 10 excerpts “learned", and about 30% "ready for performance”. The kids' energy and passion for the work is amazing. And we still laugh a lot.
“Children Taken Early"
We also looked a serious moment in the text, where Faust is ascending to his redemption and the “Chorus of Blessed Children” are circling, floating, and welcoming him to his new spiritual existence. They sing these poignant words:
Wir wurden früh entfernt, von Lebechören;
We were taken prematurely, from the choir of the living,
doch dieser hat gelernt, er wird uns lehren.
but this man has learned, and he will teach us.
The kids figured out immediately what was going on—they are playing the role of kids who died in childhood, before experiencing all that the world and life has to offer (hiking in the woods, tasting new foods, seeing a mountain, knowing a deep friendship). And Faust, dying as an old man, has experienced a lot of life—both good and bad—and they are eager to welcome him to their heavenly home, so he might teach them things they missed.
It’s hard for kids to understand the depth of grief associated with losing a child, but they took it seriously.
Mahler’s very personal (okay, obsessive) take on this—he lost his own little 5-year old Anna Maria in 1907—resulted in another large work, his Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children). For a short intro to this, an NPR brief in the wake of Sandy Hook, listen to this.
1. Memorize #6, “Freudig empfangen wir”.
2. Start reviewing the new #7. “Er über wächst uns schon"
3. Review #5, which should be memorized already).
Thanks for partnering with us. Keep talking to your kids.
P.S. There is rehearsal next Tuesday--see you then.