Named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World for 2009” and frequently described as the most dynamic young conductor to arrive on the classical music scene since the legendary Leonard Bernstein, 28-year-old Gustavo Dudamel begins his tenure as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in fall 2009. Making his American television debut on the Great Performances telecast of Carnegie Hall Celebrates Berlin in January 2008, Dudamel’s infectious energy and exceptional artistry will be on display once again as he conducts his inaugural concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, recorded for national telecast from Disney Concert Hall on October 8. Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic: The Inaugural Concert will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances series in HD Wednesday, October 21, at 8 p.m. EST (check local listings).
The Los Angeles Philharmonic is widely regarded as one of the most contemporary and innovative orchestras in America. Dudamel made his U.S. conducting debut with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl in September 2005. In April 2007, during a guest conducting engagement with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dudamel was named the LA Phil’s next Music Director as of the 2009-2010 season, succeeding Esa-Pekka Salonen. “For me, this is really so exciting to be starting my first season as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic,” says Dudamel. “First, this is a beautiful challenge and second, it’s a wonderful opportunity to make great music with my new LA Phil family. The most important thing is to enjoy our time together.”
On the program for his inaugural concert are Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major (“Titan”) and the world premiere of that latest work by Pulitzer Prize-winning music composer John Adams, City Noir. “As the title suggests, ‘City Noir’ is a symphony inspired by the peculiar ambience and mood of Los Angeles ‘noir’ films, especially those produced in the late forties and early fifties,” reveals Adams, newly appointed LA Phil Creative Chair. “My music is an homage not necessarily to the film music of that period but rather to the overall aesthetic of the era.”
Gustavo Dudamel is the product of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, or more popularly known as El Sistema (the System), created in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan conductor, petroleum economics professor and former congressional deputy. Targeting mostly children living in slums, the System gives a musical instrument and instruction to many underprivileged and at-risk Venezuelan youth as an alternative to gang life and crime. “Music changed my life,” Dudamel told the British Herald newspaper. “I can look back now and see that many of the boys from my class went on to become involved in drugs and crime. Those who played music did not.”
Before he even begins his directorship at the LA Phil, Dudamel has been instrumental in creating the American version of El Sistema, YOLA or Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. The program, modeled after the Venezuelan prototype, began in 2007 with youth between the ages of seven and 16 from a disadvantaged district in south central Los Angeles, but its ultimate goal is to provide a musical instrument and a place in a youth orchestra for every Los Angeles county young person who wants one.
News of Gustavo Dudamel’s talent first spread worldwide after his triumph at the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in May 2004. Just three years later, Dudamel was awarded the Premio de la Latindad, an honor given for outstanding contributions to Latin cultural life. In 2008, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra was granted Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, given annually by the Prince of Asturias Foundation in Spain. Dudamel was awarded the 2007 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Young Artists and, most recently, along with his mentor Dr. Abreu, the 2008 “Q Prize” from Harvard University for extraordinary service to children.
The national PBS telecast of Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic: The Inaugural Concert is being produced by Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images, THIRTEEN for WNET.ORG, ZDF-ARTE, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Directed for television by Brian Large, the concert will be telecast in South America and Asia as well.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Major funding is also provided by The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, with additional funding from the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust.