Gustavo Dudamel to attend Hugo Chavez funeral, miss L.A. concert

Gustavo Dudamel conducts Stravinsky's "Firebird" with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Gustavo Dudamel will fly to Caracas, Venezuela for the funeral Friday of President Hugo Chavez, and the L.A. Philharmonic music director might lead a concert tied to the Chavez events.

The Venezuelan-born conductor is expected to head to Caracas directly after the Thursday evening performance of “The Gospel According to the Other Mary” at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Grant Gershon, the artistic director of the L.A. Master Chorale, will conduct the Friday evening performance of the piece. Dudamel is expected to be back in time for Sunday’s matinee.

There is no scheduled Saturday performance of the piece by John Adams and Peter Sellars.


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The Los Angeles Philharmonic said on Thursday that Dudamel could conduct something at the Chavez funeral but that details were still being worked out. Dudamel was a product of Venezuela’s El Sistema program, which provides free music education to poor students.

Chavez, who died this week at 58 following a battle with cancer, was a vocal supporter of El Sistema. Some reports, however, have indicated that certain people close to El Sistema were uneasy about being associated with the controversial leader.

The creation of El Sistema predates the Chavez administration. The music-education program was founded by Jose Antonio Abreu in 1975.


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