Thu. Nov 14th, 2019

Mexico wraps Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic | Culture


On video: 'Gustavo Dudamel's adventure in Los Angeles'. In the photograph: the Venezuelan director during one of the rehearsals.



Sitting next to a grand piano, Gustavo Dudamel He lifts his head and clenches his lips with his eyes fixed on the window of his office. As if looking for words in the midday light while thinking about his favorite poem by Octavio Paz. "It's like a great rhapsody," he says of White, a complex text like a puzzle. "It reminds me of Mahler, for his freedom and possibility of meanings." Similarly, in the Lily pads from Monet, he listens to Debussy or Ravel. The director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra feel the music with shapes, colors and poems

During the tours, he always carries some fetish books in his suitcase. One of Unamuno's aphorisms, the compilation of Peace poems and, lately, All happy families, some late stories by Carlos Fuentes. Mexican winks are no accident. The Mexican capital has been chosen to close the centenary tour of the American company, whose last decade has been directed by Dudamel's Venezuelan talent. 10 years of energy, risk and modernity that critics have awarded with adjectives such as “the most lively and robust formation”, “the most innovative” or “the most important orchestra in America. Point".

The Angels It is the city with the most Latino population in the United States. Since the 1960s, the California megaurbe has been the great destination for migrants from the south. Counted the peripheries are almost 50%. The vast majority, 4.6 million, have Mexican origins, more than all the inhabitants of the Sinaloa and Zacatecas states together. Led by the first Latino director in its history, the Philharmonic returns to the heart of Mexico 20 years later. A return full of meaning: “Mexico is a reference of our culture and the relationship with California and specifically with Los Angeles is direct. It is a connection of blood, of DNA. And it's beautiful as with music we can create bridges. ”

For Dudamel, Mexico also represents the first great supporter of the project that saw him born and used him to Olympus, that formidable incubator of artistic talent and social integration: the Ssystem of children's and youth orchestras of Venezuela. “When no one believed in music as a transformation tool, the first ones who came to support us, in the eighties and nineties, were the Mexican masters such as Eduardo Mata, Carlos Chávez or Arturo Márquez”

Gustavo Dudamel, in the halls of the Disney Concert Hall.


Gustavo Dudamel, in the halls of the Disney Concert Hall. The country

The repertoire of the three Mexican nights – two in the Palace of Fine Arts and one in the National Auditorium – will be full of Latin American winks, together with regular pieces during this tour as Sustainby Andrew Norman, the Symphony No. 4 de Bruckner or his homage to John Williams reserved for the Auditorium. The Mexican must include pieces by Gabriela Ortiz or José Pablo Moncayo. “His huapango is the second Mexican national anthem. Touching it always moves Latin American patriotism. It's Mexican, but it's also ours, ”says Dudamel.

Classic revolution

Before the interview in his office, he had arrived on time to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the futuristic metal crab-shaped building designed by Frank Ghery as the venue for the orchestra. Jeans, t-shirt and dark jacket, at 10:30 he entered the room, hung the leather jacket on the back of the chair and began to give instructions: violins, "change the color, don't be so shy"; tubes, "now, a little more elegant"; Oboes, "they are too present."

The Los Angeles Philharmonic (FILA), one of the youngest squads in the US despite its centenary, has had a diffuse identity since its inception. If the strings have always stood out in the Philadelphia orchestra, in Chicago the metal-winds or New York, for a certain virtuosity bordering on arrogance, the FILA tradition has been rather a non-tradition. Opaque by the brightness of the neighboring Hollywood industry, the migration of great European composers, such as Schoenberg and Stravinsky, was modeling a certain border taste.

The work for two decades of the former director general, Deborah Borda, and, above all, the signing of Dudamel in 2009 definitively strengthened the versatility, rupturism and dialogue between the past and avant-garde as distinct signs. The program of this tour-centenary is a sample: together with Beethoven or Mahler, pioneers of minimalism such as Philipp Glass and Steve Reich, pop ensembles such as Sigur Rós or tributes to the experimental legacy of the fluxus movement.

Despite the heterodoxy and the blood connection – up to a century and a half ago this land was Mexican – only one of the 106 musicians in the orchestra has Mexican roots. "It's changing," Dudamel says. Art, culture is the identity of communities, cities, countries. And the FILA represents what this community is, because we are going towards it, understanding it, connecting it ”. The Chilean Paolo Bartolameolli has just been promoted to associate director and the institution has launched a scholarship program for musicians who begin their career and belong to "historically underrepresented population." The three winners of this year are an African-American percussionist and cello; and a Hispanic violinist.

General view of the Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles.


General view of the Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles. The country

But the star project to bridge the gap is lto Los Angeles Youth Orchestra (YOLA). A program inspired by the Venezuelan system, backed by the director's own foundation and through which more than 1000 young people have passed, aged eight to 18. Here the sample is representative: more than half are of Latin origin and the hardest neighborhoods in the city. Dudamel speaks of art as an essential right and of access to beauty by children. “Especially for young people with difficulties, with low resources, it is important that they have the opportunity to reach art as a tool of transformation, that they do not see it as something elitist. That way we build bridges, making a child here feel Verdi as his as an Italian child. ”

"That will change."

A YOLA delegation will accompany the orchestra on their trip to Mexico. Other musicians from Mexican youth schools will meet and participate in a general rehearsal of one of the dates in Fine Arts conducted by Dudamel. For many, it will be the first time they step on their parents' land. "I'm excited because my mom is from there and I'm going to see my family," says Kevin Peña, 18. Her mother is a seamstress and he helps her with the money she takes from giving private music lessons. He wants to be a professional musician and, thanks to a scholarship also derived from FILA, is in his first year at the university.

When Aracely Montoya, a 17-year-old Honduran violinist, is asked about the minimum presence of Latinos in the senior orchestra, she responds:

That will change. I'm going to change it

It will be the first time I took a plane in his life and he feels full of confidence. “At the beginning he told me that I had no place in music. But with Gustavo it is different. When he shines, I shine too. ” The relationship of the Venezuelan director with the young students is a double direction mirror. "When I see a child with an instrument that is transforming his life I feel totally identified and proud."

The label of young prodigy and machine of breaking records has accompanied Gustavo Dudamel almost from the cradle. With 12 years he placed the dolls as if they were the members of an orchestra and played to direct them while the discs of his father, trombonist in a salsa band were playing. At 18 he was already in charge of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. With 28, he signed for FILA. He is the youngest conductor to command the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra at the New Year's concert. And the first classical artist to participate in the millionaire shows of the Superbowl break.

Just arrived in Los Angeles, in 2009, Time magazine placed him among the 100 most influential people in the world. Dudamel is part of the Latin American advance of actors, filmmakers, artists or athletes who dazzle from the US and project their success to the south. The Venezuelan director summarizes his role as a model with another appointment. This time, from Teresa of Calcutta: “The worst thing about being poor is being nobody. That is, having no identity, which is what culture brings. ”

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