Category: Gustavo Dudamel

L.A. Phil concerts with Dudamel, Salonen, others will air on KUSC

March 29, 2012 |  9:30 am

A new series of broadcasts featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic in concert will be heard on classical music station KUSC-FM (91.5) beginning this weekend.

The 14 programs are from the orchestra's 2011-12 season, and half are conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the L.A. Phil. Others feature guest conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Simon Rattle, James Conlon and John Adams.

Included in the lineup are three concerts from the Phil's ambitious Mahler Project, featuring the composer's Symphony No. 4, No. 9 and No. 8. The latter, set to close the KUSC series on July 1, was recorded in Caracas, Venezuela, and features not only the Phil but also the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and a huge chorus -- 1,400 performers in all. Times music critic Mark Swed attended that event Feb. 18 and called it a "grand performance."

"Los Angeles Philharmonic in Concert," airing Sundays at 4 p.m., will be hosted by KUSC's Brian Lauritzen. Like other KUSC programming, it will also be heard on KPSC-FM (88.5) in Palm Springs, KDSC-FM (91.1) in Thousand Oaks, KQSC-FM (88.7) in Santa Barbara, KESC-FM (99.7) in Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo and online.


Dudamel's monster Mahler 8 in Caracas

Gustavo Dudamel's Mahler Project

L.A. Phil embraces a new generation with Dudamel

-- Lee Margulies

Photo: Gustavo Dudamel conducts the L.A. Philharmonic in Mahler's Ninth Symphony at Walt Disney Concert Hall in February. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times


Gustavo Dudamel’s former bodyguard killed in Venezuela

March 9, 2012 |  4:24 pm

DudamelGustavo Dudamel’s former bodyguard was killed by a stray bullet outside his home near Caracas, Venezuela. Yojham Tupac Amaru Oliviera Camero, 33, leaves behind two children.

Reports have been circulating that Camero was working for the conductor at the time of his death. But a spokeswoman from the Los Angeles Philharmonic said Camero hadn't worked for Dudamel in about two years. The shooting took place at 2 a.m. on March 3 and was reported by the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional.

Dudamel was not available for comment.

The Venezuela-born conductor was in his homeland last month with the Philharmonic for a series of Mahler concerts, marking the first foreign orchestra appearance in Caracas in two decades.

On the trip bodyguards and police escorts accompanied Dudamel, as is often the case with famous or rich people in the country, where crime is a major problem and abductions are not uncommon. Caracas has been called the unofficial murder capital of South America; there were 19,000 homicides nationwide last year. 

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Music review: Gustavo Dudamel's monster Mahler 8 in Caracas

February 19, 2012 |  9:15 pm

Caracas Mahler 8

Carnival starts on Monday in Caracas. But the chaos outside the Teatro Teresa Carreño on Saturday night as crowds arrived to hear Gustavo Dudamel conduct a gargantuan Mahler's Eighth Symphony was indication that something was already in the air.

Venezuelans love monster concerts, the more performers the better, partly as a matter of national pride at their extensive and inclusive music education system. This was Mahler's “Symphony of a Thousand” with 1,400 performers, and many people without tickets showed up anyway, jostling to get past an ineffective security cordon. Their backup was a free outdoor screen area where people could sit and watch the performance while enjoying the lovely Caribbean breezes.

Inside, a chorus of 1,200 mostly young, uniformly ecstatic singers unleashed vast reserves of controlled energy filling every inch of the hall. They also let loose additional reserves of adrenaline at the curtain calls, with the chorus cheering Dudamel even more lustily than the audience, creating an amazing antiphonal applause.

Forget the Shrine Auditorium. That is where Dudamel had conducted an eventful but acoustically crippled Mahler's Eighth two weeks earlier with the combined Los Angeles Philharmonic and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, a chorus of 1,000 Angelenos and eight vocal soloists in a venue with room for an audience of more than 5,000.

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Caracas diary: Dudamel, Abreu and a multitude of young musicians

February 17, 2012 |  3:00 pm

Dudamel security
Not even a parent is likely to relish the thought of a musical showcase with 1,700 schoolchildren performing. So it was probably smart of El Sistema not to tell the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its entourage Thursday afternoon what to expect for an event at and around the Teatro Teresa Carreno, the main concert hall in Caracas where the orchestra currently is finishing up its Mahler Project. The hosts for the showcase were a beaming Gustavo Dudamel and a beaming José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema.

The kids came from the núcleo schools around the country that are the heart of El Sistema. Several news crews were on hand, and though  the event was closed to the public, hundreds could look on from outside terraces. Dudamel was shadowed by formidable security bruisers.

The Venezuelans do know how to put on a show. At various points around the courtyard of the concert hall -- which faces a lush park and botanical garden where, like nearly everywhere else in this intriguing but frustratingly inaccessible city, it is not safe to wander alone -- we were shown one mind-boggling ensemble after another.

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Caracas diary: L.A. Phil musicians get to know the Venezuelans

February 16, 2012 |  2:09 pm

Ben Hong
Well before the Los Angeles Philharmonic packed for its 10-day tour to Caracas, Venezuela, music director Gustavo Dudamel said that his mission was to show off his orchestra to his home country. And yes, the audiences have been indefatigably enthusiastic. But equally exceptional has been the impression the local musicians have had on the L.A. players.

Midway through their trip, the Angelenos are reveling in their interactions with the young musicians of Dudamel’s home orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony, and the students of the state-supported El Sistema music education program, whose most famous pupil is Dudamel.

The L.A. players have been rehearsing side by side with members of the Bolívar Symphony for Saturday’s performance of Mahler’s massive Eighth Symphony. In addition, several L.A. musicians have participated in coaching sessions with student orchestras.

Principal flutist David Buck said that he was so floored by an orchestra of 15- to 18-year-olds that at first he was afraid he would have nothing to say to them. “The whole trip was worth it just for that,” he said.

The Bolívar players are known for their physicality, something that concerns the Americans, said Gretchen Nielsen, the L.A. Phil’s education director. The arm gestures of the string players are so enthusiastic that these players could develop muscular problems as they age, similar to those that found in athletes. Indeed, Dudamel, who trained as a violinist in El Sistema, has had issues with his neck and shoulder.

A room full of Venezuelan students can also be ear-shattering. On a visit, the orchestra’s physician on the tour, Dr. Andrew Wachtel, carried a pair of earplugs draped around his neck rather like a stethoscope.

But cellist Barry Gold also points to the extreme sensitivity of playing he has witnessed that is equally Venezuelan. And, he said, the Venezuelans’ sense of pride has been contagious to the Angelenos.

Much about this tour has been unexpected.

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Even Gustavo Dudamel is wowed by huge Mahler rehearsal in Caracas

February 15, 2012 |  3:08 pm

Mahler 8th rehearsal in Caracas
This is going to be big.

When the Los Angeles Philharmonic arrived backstage at Caracas’ Teatro Teresa Carreno for its first rehearsal with chorus and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony Wednesday morning, the first reaction from many Angelenos was a gasp, a wow and a big smile. Then they whipped out their cameras.

A sea of tightly packed children and young singers rose to the roof. The official count was 1,207, but with that many, who’s counting? They were warming up, and it seemed as though the earth itself was singing solfège syllables. The sound was primal. “I’m not sure I knew what I was getting into,” cracked the L.A. Phil’s longtime production director, Paul M. Geller.

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Caracas diary: Meeting the youngest musicians of El Sistema

February 15, 2012 | 10:00 am

Mark Swed reports from the headquarters of the Venezualan music education miracle, El Sistema, in Caracas and from the Nucleo La Riconada
The Los Angeles Philharmonic on Tuesday had a free day from its performances of Mahler symphonies with Gustavo Dudamel in Caracas, Venezuela, and spent it on an excursion to a tropical rum farm outside of town. The media, however, only got as far as a race track at the edge of town.

It's not what you think.

The track, which is surrounded by dangerous barrios, was closed, but not the betting office. That has been converted to the Núcleo La Riconada, and there I met Christhien Diaz, a small, quiet but not shy boy of 13 who is studying percussion. He is one of 2,000 music students here, in one of the largest and oldest of Venezuela's more than 300 núcleos. In them, children, beginning as young as 2 and most often living in poverty, are provided instruments and world-class musical training for free for the rest of their youth.

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Caracas diary: A sweet Mahler's Fourth and Dudamel-mania

February 14, 2012 | 10:30 am

Caracas Dudamania

What doesn’t kill you will make you fat, the Venezuelans are said to joke.

With a day off in Caracas between performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on Saturday night and Mahler's Fourth on Monday night, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, on its first visit here, got a taste of that saying, so to speak. This is not a town in which a visitor might safely roam, and especially not on an election day, as Sunday was. So the players took it easy in their hotel.

Because raw foods and unpeeled fruit are not recommended (there has already been a case of food poisoning), available Venezuelan cuisine has tended toward things high in fat and calories. Sugar is plentiful. But maybe that hasn’t been such a bad thing.

The performance of the Mahler Fourth had a relaxed but potent sweetness Monday in the Teatro Teresa Carreno that it hadn’t when Gustavo Dudamel began his Mahler Project with the symphony at Walt Disney Concert Hall exactly one month earlier.

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Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Phil start things in Caracas

February 12, 2012 |  5:10 pm

Audience at Teresa Carenno

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

After the end of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s excitable and radiant performance Saturday night at Teatro Teresa Carreño of Mahler’s hauntingly elegiac Ninth Symphony, Gustavo Dudamel stopped to sign autographs for screaming fans who ran up to the foot of the stage of Caracas’ main concert hall.

The L.A. Phil had arrived in Venezuela late the night before, and the orchestra's caravan of buses had been given a police escort from the Simón Bolívar International Airport to the orchestra’s hotel. More motorcycle police accompanied the players Saturday afternoon on the 5-mile drive from their hotel to the first of five performances in the country’s capital.

Not only is the L.A. Phil the first major international orchestra to visit Venezuela in more than two decades, but the Venezuelan conductor and his L.A. orchestra are rock stars here. So popular is Dudamel that Frank Gehry was commissioned to design a concert hall for Dudamel's hometown of Barquisimeto that the town wants to name after the 31-year-old conductor. It will replace a soccer field and serve the kind of youth orchestras Dudamel played in while growing up.

On the other hand, a police presence may have also been a wise precaution in a country notorious for its violent crime. Venezuela averaged 53 murders a day last year.

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Watch Gustavo Dudamel make music on 'Sesame Street' [Video]

February 7, 2012 |  5:29 pm


What did the conductor say to the Muppet?

Watch below to see Gustavo Dudamel make his musical “Sesame Street” debut.

During the minute-and-a-half segment, which premiered Monday on PBS, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's music director, accompanied by Elmo, demonstrates the meaning of "stupendous" with a violin-playing sheep, an octopus percussionist and an all-penguin choir.

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