How disappointing was it that Gustavo Dudamel and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles were relegated to accompanying Coldplay and singing along with Chris Martin, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars? It was disappointing.
But this was a rock event. More than 99% of the viewers couldn’t have had any idea who these kids were, since they weren’t told. Nor was there any reason why they would be able to figure out why that guy in jeans somewhere on the stage (the ever-moving cameras didn’t reveal quite where) was waving his hands.
There was no place, and there was never going to be any place, for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director and youth orchestra to bring a little Beethoven to the millions of sports fans and commercial fanciers who tune in to one of the world’s most-watched pop-culture events. YOLA’s pre-recorded contribution was mostly inaudible in the audio mix. The orchestra was there for show. But its being there made for a better show. Best of all the kids and Dudamel sure looked happy, and if you knew who they were and why they were there, maybe you were happy too.
On top of that, classical music did, in fact, get its few seconds of fame too. During the first quarter of the game, the commercial for Intel was built around Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as the musical symbol for innovation. The commercial for the game “Mobile Strike” with Arnold Schwarzenegger used the “Dies Irae” from Verdi’s Requiem as the cleverly appropriate soundtrack for death and destruction.