Monday, February 25, 2013

An Unforgettable Night at the ISO: Hampson Sings Mahler

I blogged and tweeted my heart out about Thomas Hampson coming to the ISO, to sing some Mahler. I thought the fact that the greatest baritone on earth right arriving in town to sing some Mahler would bring tons of people to the Hilbert Circle Theater. I was wrong. But, ya know what? It's their loss. I tried to get people here! (I succeeded with a few, I should say!) But for some bizarre, strange reason that I'll never understand, only about 700 or so people showed up. Perhaps it was because it wasn't a subscription concert. I dunno. Oh well. You know what less people meant, for me? Well, first, for the audience, it felt like a more intimate concert (at least, that's how I felt). But it also meant a bit of a shorter line (but the line was still ridiculously long) so I could do this:

Yep. that's me, meeting Thomas Hampson. 

He's considerably taller than I am. 

He's also a supremely kind man, who listened to me blabber on and on about how much I love the music of Gustav Mahler. I told him I had traveled to DC to hear him sing, and he said something like "You're nuts". And then I told him that meeting him was the closest I'd ever get to meeting Mahler, to which he responded quite well with, "We're all disciples". Ha! Love it., I met one of my musical heroes. He signed my CD booklet of Kindertotenlieder (Vienna Phil, Bernstein). I chose to bring that one because it was the first CD I ever bought of Hampson's. I got it at the ripe age of 14, and it's probably my favourite CD that I own. (also has Mahler 6 on it, my fave interpretation). 

Before the concert, there was a Words on Music interview with Hampson, who is so ridiculously knowledgeable on so many things, yet so, so humble about it all. Such an absolute gentleman! Hearing him talk about Das Knaben Wunderhorn and folk songs in's his thing. He knows it all, left and right, forwards and backwards, inside and out. And the thing is, you can hear that when he sings. It's intimate to him. It's not just notes on a page to be interpreted well, but it goes deeper than that. Folk poems were brought to life, vividly, by his singing. 

I tell you, the concert was magical. For the several hundred of us there, the evening was completely magical. We clapped til our hands were sore, we hooted and hollered (yep, including me of course), we stood in line to get our picture with him (I was totally losing my mind waiting in line. You would have thought I was a 12 year old at a Bieber concert. I've been listening to Hampson since I was a teenager though; he's a hero of mine!), we all wept that more people weren't there to hear him, and we all seemed to agree that Mahler in the concert season is always a good thing. 

Conductor Joana Careiro did an admirable job leading the smaller orchestra through the Mahler. The orchestra was on its toes, and I have no doubt that they were all inspired by Hampson's singing. How could you not be? 

The second half of the night was filled with Schumann's Symphony no. 2. I'll be completely honest with you---I heard it, but I wasn't listening. I know, that was terrible of me--I go to concerts to listen to music, and write about it. I didn't though. After meeting Hampson, after hearing Mahler that I've heard recordings of, but never live, I was happy land. I had a dumb grin on my face the rest of the night, and my eyes were probably glazed over or something. (I promise I'm 33, and not 12, really.)  I mean, how often does one get to meet a musical hero? I hopped on a plane, and flew to DC to hear this man sing a few years back. I have many a CD of his. He's THE foremost interpreter of Mahler. How could I have any reaction other than the one I had? 

If you weren't there.....bummer for you. You missed out on one of the greatest night's at the ISO. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating, not in the least. The evening was.....unforgettable. Hampson's singing was breathtaking. Marvelous. Deeply emotive. Musical heaven. You get my point, I hope. 

I feel so privileged to have been at the ISO Friday night, listening to such amazing music. Thank you ISO, Thomas Hampson, and Mahler, for bringing such beauty in to my life. I can't imagine I'll ever forget the amazing sounds I heard, and the emotions I felt, this past Friday.

1 comment:

Bassbike said...

As an orchestra member who performed in this concert, I can only say that we musicians were equally inspired, impressed, and awed by Hampson's wonderful musicianship, intellect, and expressive vocal ability. It was for sure the highlight of this season for me and is a concert I will long remember fondly.
Robert Goodlett