|Orchestra rehearsal at CESA nucleo|
|Bassist Edicson Ruiz during dress rehearsal|
On Wednesday, the Youth Orchestra of Bahia gave a great concert at the Castro Alves Theater. First on the program was J.M. Sperger's (1750-1812) Concerto for Bass and Orchestra No. 15, performed by Edicson Ruiz, the Venezuelan bassist who was trained in El Sistema and became the youngest person ever to earn a position in the Berlin Philharmonic at the age of 17. This performance was billed as the Brazilian premiere of the work, which is pretty amazing if it is true, as the work is over 200 years old. Ruiz is certainly a world-class bass player and played magnificently. During the dress rehearsal, I noticed that it seemed his bass wasn't tuned to the standard E-A-D-G but seemed to be some type of scordatura. It turned out I was right, as the program said he was playing in "Viennese tuning" which I think was A-D-F#-A, making his performing even more impressive! As an encore, he played a really wild "Prelude and Fugue" by living Swiss composer Heinz Holliger. The fugue was in 4 voices, a really crazy piece!
|Ruiz and conductor Manuel Lopez rehearsing with YOBA|
But the second half of the concert was even better, with the youth orchestra playing Mahler's Symphony No. 1, conducted by Venezuelan conductor Manuel Lopez Gomez. This was only the second time that a Mahler symphony has been performed in Bahia (the Bahia Symphony performed Mahler's Symphony No. 4 earlier this year, their first Mahler Symphony after 30 years of existence.) I've never heard the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra live before, but listening to these young Brazilians (mostly, as there are actually a few non-Brazilian Latin Americans in the orchestra) perform it in rehearsal and in concert, I felt that this must be something similar to hearing the Venezuelans play Mahler. There was an energy and intensity that was very exciting, a real passion in the playing. Perhaps some of it has to do with the fact that the conductor has conducted the Simon Bolivar Orchestra many times, including in this very symphony. Ricardo Castro spoke to the audience during intermission and said that one of Neojiba's goals is to perform the complete cycle of Mahler Symphonies in the upcoming years.
|Dress rehearsal for Mahler 1|
|The 'filarmonica' in its early days.|
|View over Serrinha|
|Full orchestra rehearsal|