« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

The Year of the Dude

May 31, 2010 |  5:00 am

Yola

Let’s see. There was the buildup. There was “¡Bienvenido Dudamel!” at the Bowl and an opening night on global TV. And the media feeding frenzy. And Drubbing Dudamel, The Tour.

He’s the future of classical music. He’s not the future of classical music. He’s the new Leonard Bernstein. He’s the old Zubin Mehta. He’s the hot Venezuelan. He’s the scary other. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is re-inventing the symphony orchestra. No, it isn't. The Los Angeles Times doesn't get it.

City noir, indeed

EntBlog_Photo330 Perhaps what Gustavo Dudamel really is is a mirror. In youth-oriented, increasingly Latin Los Angeles, a city of adventure and celebrity, he is, well, the ultimate celebrity conductor. Consider the reviews on the Phil's eight-city national tour: In the home of orchestral dysfunction, Dudamel’s L.A. Phil poses no threat to the leaderless Fabulous Philadelphians. In status quo D.C, Dudamel is understood as fabulous but status quo. In sophisticated San Francisco, Dudamel is no Michael Tilson Thomas Mahlerian. In soon-to-be Muti’s Chicago, we are barbarians at the gate. In New York, nothing’s ever simple.   

So what did Dudamel really do in his first season as music director of the L.A. Philharmonic (besides, of course, attract huge admiring crowds and hoards of journalists)? A lot of new music, for one thing. He also tirelessly proselytized for music education. Mainly, though, he kept audiences, musicians and exhausted administrators never knowing what to expect next.

For a look back at the Year of the Dude, click here

-- Mark Swed

Photo: Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Youth Orchestra of L.A. at his season-opening Hollywood Bowl Concert in October. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.


 
Comments () | Archives (3)

Mr. Swed, you really should consider getting a job with the PR department of the LA Philharmonic, because if the overall journalistic integrity of LA Times is as low as you have demonstrated in this area, the paper will die a lot sooner than you would like. You are so good in hyping and exaggerating, it would be a perfect position for you!

I recently ran across Alex Ross’ review in the New Yorker of the orchestral marathon that took place at Carnegie Hall this year from the end of January to the beginning of March, presenting thirteen concerts by symphony orchestras from six states and three foreign countries. While comparing and contrasting and giving specific praises and criticisms to the individual ensembles, the comment of Ross that struck me most was the following:

“Yet I couldn’t help thinking back to Furtwängler’s complaints about orchestral playing―his critique of overrehearsed performances, of ‘evenly accomplished perfection in all the details of a piece.’ He spoke of the dying out of improvisatory playing, by which he meant collective risk-taking, a sense of music unfolding in the here and now. More than once in recent weeks, I wanted a little less polish, a little more grit.”

That is exactly my feeling about live orchestral performance in general, and why I was absolutely thrilled by most of the ten Dudamel-conducted concerts I attended at Disney Hall this season, and why I think most of the reviews of the LA Phil’s recent tour misunderstand where the true thrills lie in live orchestral performance.

Although not always perfect, with the Phil under the Dude I have a sense of “music unfolding in the here and now” and of “collective risk-taking” in the moment, and that is where it’s at for me in a live performance. Give me lots more of that, and leave the sound of overrehearsed perfection to others.

" He’s the future of classical music. He’s not the future of classical music. He’s the new Leonard Bernstein. He’s the old Zubin Mehta. He’s the hot Venezuelan. He’s the scary other. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is re-inventing the symphony orchestra. No, it isn't. The Los Angeles Times doesn't get it."


Your poetry, Mr. Critic, shows promise.
Ever considered a job with Hallmark Cards?


Advertisement
Connect

Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Video


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics



Advertisement

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.


Categories


Archives