SAY WORD! | YOUNG VENEZUELAN IS CHANGING THE FACE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC
By Led Black
Gustavo Dudamel began taking music lessons at the tender age of four, by the time he turned 15, he was the conductor of Venezuela’s national youth orchestra. In 2004, he successfully defeated 15 other hopefuls for the prestigious Mahler Prize, which is the most important competition for young conductors. Soon afterward, his career takes off and Gustavo garners international attention and recognition culminating in him being named the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic earlier this year. At the age of 26, Gustavo has performed at concert halls the world over and has become the talk of the Classical Music genre. Mr. Dudamel has even performed for the Pope.
Gustavo Dudamel is a product of the venerable El Sistema of Venezuela. José Antonio Abreu, Dudamel’s mentor, founded El Sistema 32 years ago with the aim of teaching poor kids to play musical instruments. The program now has an enrollment of 250,000 students countrywide and Dudamel is its star pupil and ambassador. I first came across this remarkable virtuoso via this excellent 60 Minutes piece, GUSTAVO THE GREAT, which aired recently. To see this man perform is to be completely blown away by his passion and love of classical music. Gustavo Dudamel is an electric performer that mesmerizes even those who are not normally into Classical Music such as myself. Check out this crazy mambo version of a Leonard Bernstein number.