Gustavo Dudamel injured conducting Thursday night


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Gustavo Dudamel is an athletic conductor and athletes get hurt. Thursday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall while conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and readying the orchestra for a high-profile national tour, Dudamel lunged energetically early in the last movement of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto and pulled a muscle in his neck.

Philharmonic president Deborah Borda said that the 28-year-old Venezuelan music director heard a loud pop and lost sensation on one side. He managed to pump out enough endorphins to keep up a fiery performance, but he did not look himself at the curtain call. Most notably, he did not hug cellist Alisa Weilerstein as he might have after her passionate performance, but that could have also been interpreted as a gracious gesture meant to draw attention to his soloist.


Backstage, Dudamel was described as being in great pain but insisting nonetheless on conducting Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony after intermission. Borda said she practically had to hold him down and bundled him off to the hospital. After tests revealed nothing worse than a bad muscle pull, he was sent home but uncertain as to whether he would be able to immediately return to the podium. He is scheduled to repeat the program Friday morning and Saturday evening. The tour begins on Monday.

Replacing Dudamel at the last minute Thursday night was the orchestra’s associate conductor, Lionel Bringuier. His job is to be prepared for just such an emergency, and he conducted a sizzling performance of the Tchaikovsky but one with a considerably different sound and character than is typical of Dudamel.

A full review will follow later this morning.

-- Mark Swed

Above: Dudamel Thursday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times