Exclusive: Details of Dudamel’s free L.A. debut concert
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Gustavo Dudamel’s first concert as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic won’t be the invitation-only black-tie gala one might expect. Judging by the artists who will perform, “¡Bienvenido Gustavo!” will celebrate both the young Venezuelan’s long-awaited arrival and his desire to promote diversity, education and the cultural riches of his new city.
The Philharmonic will announce today the program for the Oct. 3 festival at the Hollywood Bowl that will serve as Dudamel’s coming-out party. No typical classical lineup, the free, five-hour show will team master musicians of various genres with rising stars and students.
“It’s a very different approach,” says Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Gustavo has been called ‘maestro of the people.’ We want to honor that spirit of community and the spirit of inclusiveness and the spirit of mentorship.’
The concert’s second half will be devoted to Dudamel’s first official appearance at the helm of the Philharmonic. He will conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the orchestra and a chorus made up of members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and professional and amateur singers chosen by Master Chorale music director Grant Gershon.
“The Beethoven Ninth was selected because it has a universal message,” says Borda. “Gustavo thought that it represented his hopes for the musical spirit of our great city and celebrates the human spirit in a way that no other piece does.”
The first half of the program will consist of sets by performers, most of whom have local ties, who were chosen with the help of an advisory panel chaired by composer John Williams that included rocker Ben Harper, producer Quincy Jones and Latin jazz-pop king Sergio Mendes.
Leading off the day will be Alfredo Rodriguez, a 23-year-old Cuban jazz pianist, now living in Los Angeles, who was discovered by Jones. He defected in January and turned heads at the Playboy Jazz Festival in June.
The rest of the lineup follows the jump:
Gospel giant Andrae Crouch, who has been serving as a pastor at a San Fernando church, will lead a choir made up of area singers of all ages.
Flea, the bassist-trumpet player for L.A.-based Red Hot Chili Peppers, will perform with students from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, which he co-founded eight years ago to provide children with affordable private lessons.
Pianist-composer Herbie Hancock, the Philharmonic’s creative chair for jazz starting in summer 2010, will perform with the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Band, which appeared at this year’s Playboy festival.
David Hidalgo of East L.A.’s Los Lobos and bluesman Taj Mahal will join Los Cenzontles, a group of young musicians who blend traditional Mexican instruments and rural roots music with electric bass and drums. (The Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center is in the Bay Area but the group has members from Los Angeles and Mexico.)
Dudamel, 28, who made his U.S. debut at the Bowl four years ago, will lead the school-age musicians of EXPO Center Youth Orchestra in a special arrangement of “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth. The orchestra is the first of what the Philharmonic hopes will be a series of ensembles in underserved areas created through Youth Orchestra L.A., a program inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan music education-social movement that gave Dudamel his start.
Seating at the Bowl concert will be offered on a first-come first-served basis in all sections, except the Pool Circle — which will be reserved for the families of the youth orchestra.
Tickets will be available beginning at noon on Aug. 1. The Hollywood Bowl box office will handle in-person orders for free and will charge 75 cents per ticket over the phone. Service fees will apply for Ticketmaster phone and online requests.
A portion of tickets will be distributed by the L.A. Philharmonic to communities that traditionally don’t attend concerts at the Bowl or Walt Disney Concert Hall, and smaller numbers will be held for donors, media and other groups.
Parking, shuttle and bus service will be provided at regular prices.
Borda estimates “¡Bienvenido Dudamel!” will cost “something in the high six figures.” Target is the event’s sponsor; other support will come from fund-raising and Philharmonic resources. “Having a free concert at the Hollywood Bowl is a statement in itself,” she says. “Usually there’s a high-priced gala in a symphony hall. But in his first official act as music director, Gustavo will first reach out to the community.”
Dudamel will preside over a gala as well. On Oct. 8, he will take the podium at Disney Hall to lead the Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and the world premiere of John Adams’ “City Noir,” which was commissioned by the orchestra.
Flea, right. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times