Gustavo Dudamel on Mahler Mozart The Other Mary and More

Deborah Borda Takes the Blue Ribbon of the Music Center “Behind the Curtain” For an Intimate Chat with Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic


No wonder Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Music Director, doesn’t get around to chatting with local groups very often. 

At “The Other Side of the Curtain” earlier this month, where Dudamel shared his thoughts with the Blue Ribbon of the Music Center at Walt Disney Hall, LA Phil president Deborah Borda gave an account of the maestro’s day, starting at 5:30 a.m. when he awoke to spend time with his 13 mos. son and ending with a 7:30 p.m. concert at Walt Disney Hall, where he was scheduled to conduct a Mozart program.

On that same day, there were long morning and afternoon rehearsals, one of them a drive away.  In between, LA Phil’s charismatic music director managed to sandwich in the talk with the Blue Ribbon, the premier women’s support group for the Music Center. 

“Is this a normal day for you,” asked Deborah Borda?

“This was easy,” Dudamel replied. “I think this is very light today.”

That he’s a perfectionist also came up, as the two recalled the search for a rare “posthorn” for that evening’s “Posthorn Serenade,” a piece Dudamel called “one of the most brilliant pieces in the history of music.”

Never mind that despite a thorough search, no one could find a posthorn. Apparently no substitutions would do for the maestro, even though as Dudamel explained to the women in the room, “I’ll give you a secret. It’s (played) less than a minute, maybe 40 seconds”

Aside from the difficulty of finding scarce instruments, Borda and Dudamel also discussed the difficulty of finding time to plan ahead and brainstorm new ideas. Borda said she looks for “a Starbuck’s moment,” most often outside of Los Angeles, like the one they found on a rainy day in Berlin, when they first planned the trilogy of semi-staged Mozart operas that began with the extraordinary “Don Giovanni” in mid-May.  (Read the resulting Los Angeles Times review here.)  The trilogy will continue with “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Cosi Fan Tutti” over the next two years.

“It’s very hard for us to find the time to plan, so we often fly to someplace where (Dudamel) is guest-conducting and spend time there,” Borda said. “There’s actually more free time when he’s not music director.”

Of another major undertaking, the recent Mahler Project, which included nine symphonies over just a few weeks, Dudamel said, “It was a big challenge, musically, spiritually, mentally, but then I remember after the Mahler Festival I was so happy.” He then joked about the pains he felt afterwards, by comparing himself to the bruised Masetto, a character in a scene from “Don Giovanni,” who had just been beaten up.

El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education program that produced Dudamel, also came up in the discussion, as well as the Los Angeles version, YOLA, or Youth Orchestra LA. “This is the direction of the future,” he said, with Borda reminding him of his statement that music is a fundamental human right.

“(Music) is something natural, something society needs,” he said, speaking about the importance of creativity for children and the level of commitment of the children in the program.

“The future of poor people cannot be a poor future.” Dudamel said, later adding, “In Los Angeles, we are a huge example to the world.”

Citing that others may think Los Angeles has conditions different from the rest of the world, he said, “We have exactly the same problems because it’s not about the money. It’s about the future. It’s about the children,” saying children need inspiration in life.

Before the talk ended, the two also discussed the May 31 world-premiere of “The Gospel According to the Other Mary,” a new work by John Adams, and the “tradition of the new” Dudamel said he enjoys seeing in Los Angeles. (To see Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed’s evaluation of the massive work, “The Gospel According to the Other Mary,” click here.)

“It’s so amazing to see how the musical community is so open here for the new music,” he said, calling the Adams work, “the piece of the twenty-first century.” After its debut, “The Other Mary” will be repeated in Los Angeles next year and then travel with the orchestra to London, Paris, Lucerne and New York.

“This is a real California project,” Borda said ticking off all the local participants: the Los Angeles Master Chorale, composer John Adams, director Peter Sellars and architect Frank Gehry as set designer.

“We are a very important part of history,” Dudamel said. “(The LA Phil) is really changing the world and it’s not something crazy to say, we are a beautiful example to the rest of the world.”


Top photo: Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel on Mahler Mozart The Other Mary and more

Second photo: Blue Ribbon president Constance Towers Gavin welcomes members to a talk with Gustavo Dudamel on Mahler Mozart The Other Mary and more

Third photo: LA Phil president Deborah Borda goes “Behind the Curtain” for the Blue Ribbon of the Los Angeles Music Center for a talk with Gustavo Dudamel on Mahler Mozart The Other Mary and more

Fourth photo: Brunch preceded “Behind the Curtain,” when Deborah Borda talked with Gustavo Dudamel on Mahler Mozart The Other Mary and more

All of the above photos by Howard Pasamanick



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Gustavo Dudamel on Mahler Mozart The Other Mary and More

Published May 29, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA