Venezuela is known for Hugo Chavez, oil exports and its record number of Miss World pageant winners. But if classical music fans had their way, it would also be synonymous with Gustavo Dudamel, its 27-year old star conductor, and El Sistema, the state-sponsored music education system that gave him his start.
Dudamel, with his rousing energy and trademark locks of curly brown hair, burst onto the international classical music scene in 2004 when, at age 23, he won the prestigious Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany.
The New York Times has hailed him “one of the hottest—and youngest—conducting properties around” and Berlin Philharmonic music director Simon Rattle has called him “the most astonishingly gifted conductor I have ever come across.” While Dudamel’s ascension to the select club of leading international conductors has been dazzling, he remains surprisingly level-headed.
“My life is so normal. Of course I have to study a lot,” says Dudamel, referring to the musical scores he carries with him everywhere he goes. “And I travel every week to different places to give concerts, but I do the same things as before. I love to be with my friends, to go to the movies… I love wine, I looove to eat and to dance,” says Dudamel in a phone interview from Gothenburg, Sweden, where he is Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
Dudamel is also Music Director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela and was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic—a post that will begin in 2009 and that caused heartbreaks at other symphony orchestras across the U.S. who had hoped to snatch him up first. Though it may seem impossible that one man could manage all these positions simultaneously, he does—and still finds time to appear as a guest conductor with orchestras around the world.
Excerpted from Janera.com
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Also check out these two videos featuring trailers for documentaries about El Sistema:
Trailer for “El Sistema”, a film by Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier
This film shows the gripping way ‘El Sistema’ functions on a daily basis in a typical nucléo (this is the term used for El Sistema’s local neighborhood clusters): the ‘La Rinconada’ nucléo is located adjoining the barrio of the same name. The area around the nucléo is considered as one of the most dangerous and poorest areas in Caracas.
Trailer for “The Promise of Music”, a short film that aired on Deutsche Welle-TV