Friday, November 13, 2009

In love with Dudamel

This is a good week, Dobbs is gone and the NY Times publishes a great piece on Gustavo Dudamel on their front page. Dudamel is from Venezuela.

Click here for link to 60 Minutes video on Dudamel


November 13, 2009

Hollywood Swoons Over That Hair, That Baton

LOS ANGELES — They drew the line at the bobble-head doll.

But the Los Angeles Philharmonic shop offers plenty of mugs and T-shirts splashed with the arms-outstretched image of its new maestro, Gustavo Dudamel. In fact, his face has been plastered across town on buses, billboards and banners marching down Sunset Strip. Children mob him for autographs. (He signs them all.) Fireworks spelled out his name at a megaconcert to introduce him to the city.

In a case of Hollywood-meets-Haydn, the star factory is busy at work on a rare subject: a 28-year-old Venezuelan conductor whose life revolves around scores, not scripts. With only a handful of concerts here behind him, Mr. Dudamel is more or less making this town swoon.

“He’s a genuine star,” said Martin Kaplan, a former movie executive and a professor at the University of Southern California. “He’s young. He has amazing hair. He has a great back story. He has a fantastic name. He’s the dude!”

Mr. Dudamel has just finished his first month as the orchestra’s music director after a five-year rise that brought him unusual attention in the classical music world. As his Hollywood introduction made clear, he has penetrated the consciousness of popular culture in the way of Leonard Bernstein.

That introduction resulted partly from a carefully planned campaign, led by the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, Deborah Borda, but just as much from the media and a public fascinated with the man himself.

What’s most striking about this Hollywood tale is the contrast between the hype and Mr. Dudamel’s unmistakable gifts, those who know him say: his conducting talent and near-innocent but deeply compelling enthusiasm for making music.

“Deborah Borda’s rollout of Dudamel was as savvy as any studio mogul marketing a tent-pole movie,” said Mr. Kaplan, the director of the university’s Norman Lear Center, which looks at the impact of media and entertainment on society. “Plus, she had the advantage of what they call in Hollywood a good product. She didn’t have to put perfume on a stink bomb.”

Ms. Borda had been tracking Mr. Dudamel since he won a conducting competition in Bamberg, Germany, in 2004. Then he was a little-known product of El Sistema in Venezuela, a network of youth orchestras created in poor neighborhoods. Mr. Dudamel had risen to lead the system’s crown jewel, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, in Caracas.

As he took on more and more important guest-conducting jobs around the world, the Los Angeles Philharmonic decided in mid-2006 that he could be Esa-Pekka Salonen’s natural successor. The transition was announced all at once, in April 2007, eliminating the usual drawn-out music-director search and giving management plenty of time to plan his arrival.

And it laid out the red carpet in a big way with a free concert called “¡Bienvenido Gustavo!” on Oct. 3 at the Hollywood Bowl for 18,000 people. The festivities included gospel, jazz, pop and blues, movie-star introducers (Jack Black: “This dude’s on fire!”) and the fireworks. Mr. Dudamel’s first conducting that day took place with a youth orchestra that the Philharmonic had established on the Sistema model before his arrival. Then he led the Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In a savvy appeal to the Latino population, the “Ode to Joy” text was projected in Spanish, prompting applause and a few to complete NYT article

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