The Dudamel Abides: LA Phil’s Gustavo Dudamel joins Jason Bentley on KCRW

Written by
Gustavo Dudamel and Jason Bentley by Dustin Downing (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

When Gustavo Dudamel walks into a room, it’s hard not to succumb to his unbridled charm and charisma – especially when he walks in eating an ice cream cone.

We had the great privilege of going backstage at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to talk to Gustavo, one of the biggest names in classical music worldwide and the current Music Director of the LA Philharmonic.

by Dustin Downing (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It’s immediately clear the star conductor lives for music – and sharing it with others, particularly children. He’s intense and passionate about what he does, which is probably the secret to his monumental success at such a young age (35 years old!).

As a violin protégé growing up in his native Venezuela, he was a part of the country’s El Sistema program, which brings music to underserved communities. He was the program’s shining star before being tapped to make the move to LA in 2009.

He recently extended his contract to 2022 and, in his interview with Jason Bentley, it’s clear he’s been seduced by the city. (It doesn’t hurt that he performed at the Super Bowl AND conducted the opening score of the new Star Wars film at the behest of John Williams within the last 6 months).

Read a few of my favorite quotes below and listen here:

Gustavo Dudamel

“Beauty is a concept that we use in our times as something very specific—physical.  But beauty is something that goes beyond that. Beauty is feeling, it’s a very deep concept.

And this is what you create, doing music. And especially, imagine, doing music together with others.”

On conducting an orchestra:

“Well, if you see me, I move my hands in front of an orchestra. But that is not the real thing. You share, you share the feeling of your soul with a hundred people—or more than a hundred people—sitting in front of you.”

On keeping classical music fresh: 

“The music always asks you something different. And you have to share that with the new generations.”

On LA:

“It’s an inspirational place. It’s a place full of light, of course, but, not only physically, also in the spirit.”

On composer John Williams:

“He’s the Mozart of our times. He’s a genius”

On his legacy:

“I’m still at the beginning of this, even if have been 20 something years conducting. I’m still young to say what I want to achieve because what I want to do is to keep doing this, to keep living the world of music as I have been doing, you know. With a lot of intensity, with a lot of love. “