What happened with the Dudamel ticket giveaway?
The Los Angeles Philharmonic detailed Monday how all 17,400 Hollywood Bowl tickets for Gustavo Dudamel’s debut as music director were distributed, responding to complaints by some disappointed fans unable to secure the free tickets after waiting in line for hours Saturday.
Most admissions for the Oct. 3 “¡Bienvenido Gustavo!” became available at noon Saturday online and over the phone and to people who lined up at the Bowl, but they were snapped up in less than two hours.
The tickets went at a pace more common for concerts by pop stars, not classical musicians, and was a testament to the anticipation surrounding the arrival of the charismatic, youthful Dudamel. But it also meant that about 550 of the estimated 800 patrons who showed up at the Bowl, some of whom arrived early in the morning and waited for hours in the heat, went home empty-handed.
Dozens complained to The Times by e-mail or in comments to Culture Monster, frustrated that only 1,000 tickets were made available to those who showed up in person. Each patron was permitted four tickets and all were taken by the first 250 in line, Philharmonic officials reported.
"I thought, well, then we have a chance, there were 18,000 tickets and not that many people in line, not thousands,” said Mary Prange of Hollywood, who arrived at the Bowl at about 11:30 a.m. after her morning yoga class. “And I was also on my phone, checking with the Philharmonic and Ticketmaster ... it’s still so unreal that they wouldn’t have enough to accommodate the people in the line, so I just didn’t believe them.”
Others were concerned about promotions in which some tickets were distributed a few days before the Saturday giveaway by corporate sponsors of the Philharmonic, including Telemundo and Target.
Philharmonic officials, who said they received only 10 to 15 complaints about the ticket process, reported that about 12% of the tickets (2,088) were reserved for media, production staff and promotional partners of the Philharmonic. Phil chief operating officer Arvind Manocha added that an additional 20% (3,480) of the tickets were distributed by various media partners in promotions.
That left 10,832 tickets that were made available via Ticketmaster and phone sales; Manocha could not provide a breakdown as to which of those were purchased by phone or online. All numbers are approximate.
Manocha stressed that the pre-sale ticket process is standard, and in this case tickets were available to the general public, not VIPs.
But this didn’t quite satisfy Judith Krischer of Studio City, who stayed home Saturday to go online in hopes of snagging tickets because her 13-year-old son, Benjamin Greene, plays trumpet and is a Dudamel fan. “Why didn’t they handle this the same way they handled the Michael Jackson memorial, with a lottery?” she said.
As to the distribution through Telemundo, she said: “I understand them reaching out to a community that might not get to see Dudamel otherwise — I understand what they are trying to do and I applaud it, but they should have let us know. I wouldn’t have stayed home on a Saturday.”
The Oct. 3 concert includes performances by a variety of other artists, including student musicians, and Dudamel conducting the Philharmonic and members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The free event is being promoted as a community celebration welcoming the celebrated 28-year-old Venezuelan to his post.
Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of the concert trade publication Pollstar, said it’s no surprise that dialing-for-Dudamel (or tapping computer keys) beginning at noon Saturday proved an exercise in futility for many. “For a high-profile Hollywood Bowl show, it’s possible to sell out in a matter of minutes,” he said.
Dudamel may not be a pop icon, Bongiovanni said, but “the fact that the Hollywood Bowl is making such a big deal out of it, and the fact that it’s free — I can see that spiking demand up to the level of a Paul McCartney concert at the Bowl.”
-- Diane Haithman and Mike Boehm
Photo: People line up for tickets for the Oct. 3 concert. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times