Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel talks about LA Phil

Wed Feb 4, 2009 2:34pm EST
 
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel will kick off his first season as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in October.

The 28-year-old classical music sensation is already a big hit in Los Angeles, where he has started youth orchestras similar to those of Venezuela's famed El Sistema music school network.

Dudamel spoke to Reuters about conducting one of the world's top orchestras, working with kids and the good vibes of his new city, where the most famous hot dog stand, Pink's, has created "the Dude Dog" to honor the maestro's arrival.

Q: What will be your biggest challenge at the LA Phil?

A: "Every day is a challenge. I think every program we have for the next season is a beautiful challenge. These premieres, Verdi, Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler symphonies, they are challenges. But the main challenge is this idea to work for the community. This way to bring new people, to give people the opportunity to be closer to classical music, is very important. We have to be an example for other countries, to build a new generation with the arts. This is one of my goals."

Q: Are there other musicians coming out of Venezuela who can aspire to reach the level of success that you have?

A: "There are many! In this moment, there is a generation of young directors who are working with Claudio Abbado and are leaving Venezuela to conduct other orchestras. In Venezuela, we are creating many leaders to have more and more people involved in classical music.

"In terms of instrumentalists, now there are very talented violinists, 14 and 15 years old. There is a young, 15-year-old girl playing with Maestro Abbado. And I also met with a young student in New York preparing to perform."

Q: What are you looking forward to about living in Los Angeles?

A: "I love Los Angeles. It has a very fresh atmosphere. I believe firmly in energies because as a musician you have to live the moment, what you feel. On my first visit to L.A., it was very exciting to see the movement in the city. Also, apart from the music, this hall (Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall) is a magnificent place to work. The connection between El Sistema in Venezuela and the orchestra in Los Angeles is incredibly important because it is the bridge to build the dream...of a network of youth orchestras."

 
<p>Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Designate Gustavo Dudamel is interviewed at a news conference to announce programming for the 2009/10 season in Los Angeles January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>