A few years ago, when I joined the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as a member and I received the plan for the coming seasons, I was greatly surprised to find that one of the tours began in my hometown, Alicante.
That occasion was very special. After spending Christmas at home with my family, I immediately began the year making music with my new orchestra, with my family there to witness what was an unforgettable concert.
Now, three years later, the coincidence was repeated with MCO and the wonderful Mitsuko Uchida at the piano. This year was also special because we enjoyed particularly good weather; the warmest January in 134 years!
MCO is an orchestra known for its great ability to adapt to conductors, programs, styles... and to the weather! It was very funny to see my colleagues, mostly from cold northern European countries, coming to the rehearsal dressed in short sleeves and looking surprised at my winter clothing! My response was: It is more a matter of social conditioning than the actual climate, it is winter!
This aside, what we were about to undertake in the “City of Light" (which is what “Alicante” means in Arabic) was a musical journey through Mozarts' piano concertos with an exceptional tour guide. Mitsuko has managed to infect us with her charisma, knowledge, and riveting performances. She has invited us into her world, showing us the distinct character of each of the piano concertos we played: the innocence of K.453 in G major, the brightness of K.459 in F major, the insight and depth of K.466 In D minor, and the majesty of the K. 503 in C major.
A whole universe of emotions in a single composer. In the same way, we have seen how in one country, Spain, each of the cities we visited has a strong personality.
In light of the current controversial political and social situation in my country, it was interesting to hear the observations and thoughts of my colleagues (from more than 20 countries). They were surprised by the contrast seen in each of our destinations; mostly in the gastronomic area (I wonder why?!) but also linguistically, architecturally, culturally, and especially in the landscape; from the arid Alicante to the majestic green in the north.
Despite all their differences, Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, Bilbao and Oviedo welcomed us with open arms as ambassadors of something truly universal and global: the music of Mozart!
Something which really knows no borders, neither political, religious, nor social conditions... A world heritage which unites us and makes us proud of the achievements of humanity.
Mahler Chamber Orchestra is a testament to music's ability to bring people from different backgrounds together. Together we create beauty, all of us equally important, but with a common goal.
We have to listen carefully to the music and, as Abbado said, learn to listen to each other; the future of the humanity depends on it.
Photos: Geoffroy Schied