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Dudamel wows 'em on opening night

October 8, 2009 | 10:17 pm


Thursday night was a win-win for Los Angeles.

A dressed-to-the-nines audience, dappled with civic movers and shakers, eschewed the Dodgers' thrilling conclusion and instead experienced Gustavo Dudamel’s thrilling beginning at Walt Disney Concert Hall as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Both, as it turned out, were celebratory moments to savor.

At 7:18  p.m. the 28-year old Venezuelan launched into “City Noir,” John Adams’ filmic, jazz-inflected 35-minute paean to Los Angeles commissioned by the Philharmonic.

The bright, sensual presentation of the piece drew a sustained standing ovation, not always the treatment audiences afford contemporary classical music. It also earned Dudamel an embrace and several hugs from composer Adams, who seemed very pleased with his work’s world premiere performance.

After the intermission, Dudamel dipped into Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. The orchestra rendered a stately, burnished reading that again brought listeners to their feet after the final crescendo sounded at 9:18 p.m. Dudamel came out for five bows, which he took not from the podium but among his orchestra. Under a cascading shower of magenta and silver foil confetti, he then made the universal signal for “Let’s go get a drink,” and the evening morphed into a party outside on a closed-down Grand Avenue.

The concert was broadcast live on KUSC-FM and simulcast on video screens to hundreds who had spread picnic blankets throughout the Music Center plaza and took seats inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The concert will be shown Oct. 21 on PBS' "Great Performances."

-- Christopher Smith

Photo: Dudamel conducting at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho.


Photos: Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic

Red Carpet

Panorama: On the red carpet at Walt Disney Concert Hall


Panorama: Taking in the Dudamel concert from out of doors