Monday, October 12, 2009

dazzling dudamel

I was perusing Alex Ross's blog, and one of the first items he has is titled, "Dudamel begins". While Alex Ross does not discuss Dudamel for long on his site, at least not yet, he does include an image from the hollywood bowl where fireworks were set off alongside Dudamel's fiery conducting and the music of Beethoven's 9th. However, Ross also lists that Dudamel made his Disney Hall debut on October 8th, which was live broadcasted on an LA radio station. This announcement on Ross's blog reminded me of the excitement that was paired with the NY Phil's opening concert conducted by their new, young conductor, Alan Gilbert. 

Dudamel, the new star of the LA Phil is of similar celebrity-status to Gilbert. However, Dudamel is even younger, at the age of 28. It is amazing to me that a conductor at such a young age could win such a coveted post with the LA Phil. On the wikipedia page for Dudamel, his biography, personal life, and some external links are listed. The biographical section of his wikipedia entry spends a lot of time reviewing his Venezuelan heritage, which is exciting, because it gives credit to their incredible music education program with the Orchestra Simon Bolivar, which Dudamel also conducted starting in 1999. I have been intrigued by this orchestra ever since I became aware of it, because it is a uniquely high level of youth orchestra, and the dedication to artistic excellence for such a young group is somewhat unprecedented.

From Alex Ross's Dudamel plug, I decided to look at the LA times for any reviews of his debut this past week. The article I found, as linked below, was an amazing turn on standard classical music reviews. 

This article presented the opening concert as more of a paparazzi listing of the stars who attended the LA Phil's opening night and what the stars had to say about it. I guess this is LA, where celebrities run rampant and may want to attend a classical music concert, but I still found it surprising how positively they reviewed the concert and applauded Dudamel for his conducting skills. As listed in the article, "Celebs in the audience sang Gustavo’s praises. 

”Gustavo is the ultimate classical rock star,” said Quincy Jones. “What he brings to Los Angeles is a transcendence of musical talent. Classical is back, baby.” Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were blown away by Gustavo. “I was sitting there mesmerized,” said Tom. “Truly, his talent is awesome. ”I find it fascinating that classical music can rise to this level of public esteem at this point in our history. It is very encouraging to me, however, that celebs will review this art positively, as it can mean more positive attention, support, and potential funding for classical music down the road. Also, I love that Dudamel, a classical music composer, has been elevated to a level of a quasi-celebratory simply for being great at what he does, which is not always viewed as the most accessible performing art. Also, the program he chose for the opening concert, a premier by John Adams, and Mahler 1, are not the most recognizable classical compositions for audience members to so universally enjoy. I hope this is the revival of a bright future for classical music, with two great American symphony orchestra's presenting young, hot talent to an audience that may have previously been uninterested in attending a classical music concert. 

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