Welcome to this video album of socially-distanced performances of selections from Gustav Mahler's settings of poems from 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn' (The Boy's Magic Horn). This project was the brainchild of Anthony Raumann, the chairman of the Gustav Mahler Society in the UK (www.mahlersociety.org), and is presented here by Pontiac Enchanté, in partnership with the society.
When the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns abruptly halted all live performances around the world in March 2020, artists and presenters began to think of new ways to musically collaborate, and continue to bring music to their audiences. This project represents one such effort. The performers in the videos here are based on opposite sides of the Altantic Ocean: pianist Carson Becke filmed the piano parts to these songs at the Venturing Hills Concert Studio in Luskville, Canada (home of the Pontiac Enchanté concert series), while singers Caitlin Hulcup and Florian Thomas filmed the vocal parts from their home studio in Oxford, UK.
The piano parts were filmed first, and then Caitlin and Florian sang their vocal parts while listening to the piano parts via earbud headphones. Behind their camera, a screen was set up so they could see Carson's visual cues. This process of collaboration was not easy, and was made more difficult by the rhythmic flexibility and spontaneity that is a hallmark of Mahler's music. Once the vocal and piano parts were finished, they were combined by John Warner, conductor of the Orchestra for the Earth (www.orchestrafortheearth.co.uk), and an experienced audiovisual editor. Among the many challenges at this stage were blending the two audio feeds so that they sounded as if they were recorded in the same acoustic. The results of this time-consuming and exacting work at every stage of the process are a set of performances, by artists who have never met, that sound as if they were recorded in concert, with all of the flexibility and spontaneity of live performances.
If you enjoy listening to these socially-distanced performances, please consider donating what you can to the Gustav Mahler Society through the button below (or the one on the album page) so that they can continue to produce innovative projects like this one. To find out more about the performers, continue reading the biographies below. If you would like to know even more about the project, there is an interview with the artists and engineer at the bottom of this page, conducted by Anthony Raumann.