I finally witnessed—live—the force of nature that is Gustavo Dudamel. Electrifying, charming, fun, the 29-year-old conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic lives up to the hype.
By intermission last Thursday night, following the opening "Slonimsky's Earbox" by John Adams and "Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah" by Leonard Bernstein (and featuring mezzo-soprano soloist Kelley O'Connor), I understood the giddy gushing by our generous host Kathy Jeung and fellow guests Arianne Philips and Jamal Hamadi. Here are three individuals who work with the biggest musical icons in history and I've never, ever seen them so enthusiastic about anyone like this.
Beethoven's "Symphony No. 7" claimed that second half of the evening, and we all floated home on a high. By morning, my Inbox had emails from Ari and Kathy with links to Dudamel on 60 Minutes and YouTube. Forget Beatlemania, Biebermania or the rest. Dudamel rocks.
To wit, impressive crowds turned up at some 450 movie theaters across the U.S. and Canada Sunday to watch the first high-def concert simulcast of "LA Phil Live," an initiative to raise the global profile of the orchestra and its conductor and serve as educational outreach. Except in cases where weather was dire, the afternoon simulcast, according to a recap, was a major hit.
Dudamel and the Phil will be back with two more simulcasts, a March 13 Tchaikovsky concert and a June 5 Brahms program. And you better believe we'll be right there for them.
Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times
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