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Gustavo Dudamel: ready for the spotlight

October 3, 2009 | 10:00 am

The day finally is here and  L.A. is ready for him.

Gustavo Dudamel conducts his first concert today as the new music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A live audience of 18,000 awaits him for the welcome party -- titled "¡Bienvenido Gustavo!" -- at the Hollywood Bowl. Many more are expected to watch and listen to him online and on the radio.

The nearly five-hour event -- which includes performances by several classical and pop groups -- begins at 4 p.m. and is scheduled end with fireworks around 9 p.m. As the main attraction, Dudamel is scheduled to appear last among the lineup of performers.

Culture Monster will be live blogging from the Bowl all afternoon and evening. We'll plan to get you the inside scoop from musicians, the audience and the technical crew responsible for pulling off this mammoth concert.

So what can you expect from today's festivities? The roster is jam-packed with international and local talent.

First up will be Alfredo Rodriguez, a 23-year-old Cuban jazz pianist, who was discovered by Quincy Jones. He defected in January and now resides in L.A.

He will be followed by Gospel musician Andrae Crouch, a pastor at a San Fernando church, who will lead a choir made up of area singers of all ages.

Rehearse Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) will perform with members of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a local ensemble he founded to provide affordable private lessons to youth.

Next, famed jazz musician Herbie Hancock will perform with the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Band.

David Hidalgo of East L.A.’s Los Lobos, along with bluesman Taj Mahal, will take the stage to perform with  Los Cenzontles, a group of young musicians who specialize in a blend of traditional Mexican music and electric bass and drums.

At this point, Dudamel will take the podium to lead the EXPO Center Youth Orchestra in a special arrangement of “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Dudamel will then conduct the entire Ninth Symphony with the L.A. Philharmonic before a fireworks grand finale.

At a rehearsal Friday night at the Bowl, Dudamel walked through Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Philharmonic, fine-tuning certain passages and working on phrasing with the string sections.

"Follow each other. I will be here if you need me," he told the orchestra.

The musicians seemed to be as awe-inspired and starstruck as his fans. Bass Matthew Rose -- one of four vocal soloists for the Ninth Symphony -- snapped some of his own photos of the conductor during a short pause in the rehearsal.

"It'll be exciting to experience the energy of the crowd," said David Moore, a musician in the bass section of the Philharmonic.

"Gustavo's been spending a lot of time bringing out more involved textures of the music. He's specific about energy and character.  I think it'll be exciting to see how he will start sharing his vision of the orchestra in the months ahead."

-- David Ng

Photos: Gustavo Dudamel, rehearsing Friday night at the Bowl. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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