Monday, August 11, 2008
Dudamel back at the Proms
Mop-top Venezuelan super-conductor Gustavo Dudamel will be bringing some of his musical magic to the BBC Proms again this year, although sadly not with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, which set the place alight in 2007, leaving to standing ovations and gushing press reviews.
This year, Dudamel will be fronting Sweden's Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra.
His three-date tour of the UK includes the Edinburgh Festival on 12 August, the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall on 13 August and the Snape Maltings Concert Hall on 14 August.
Only 27 years old, Dudamel is flying high. Taking up the violin at the age of ten, he's a product of "El Sistema", the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras that was set up in the 1970s by Venezuelan economist, music lover and teacher Jose Antonio Abreu.
Showing early promise at conducting, by the age of 18 Dudamel was the musical director of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, the jewel in El Sistema's crown.
Following critically-acclaimed guest appearances with several international orchestras, last year he was named the principal conductor of Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
Not bad for a boy from Barquisimeto, in Lara State.
In July this year, his fans were rewarded with "Fiesta" (Deutsche Grammophon), an album of South American compositions played by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra that brims over with the same passion and joy that wowed audiences at the BBC Proms.
Next year, in his biggest step yet, he will take over as the musical director of the Los Angeles Philarmonic Orchestra.
Asked recently by the Telegraph's Geoffrey Norris how he would cope with running three major orchestras at the same time, Dudamel said: "People say that having three orchestras is a crazy life, but its better because you have three families."
Despite his growing fame in the classical music world, he also said he was determined to maintain his connections with Venezuela:
"Venezuela is very important, not just because it's a place I go to conduct but because my family is there - my wife and my parents and my musical family. I love working not only with the Bolivars but also with the other children's orchestras, something that Maestro Abreu put in our blood."
The video shows the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra at the BBC Proms playing Alma LLanera, Venezuela's second national anthem, a song composed by Pedro Elias Gutierrez that was first performed in Caracas in 1914.
Video: Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra performing Mambo at the Albert Hall in 2007
Video: Gustavo Dudamel interviewed at the Proms in 2007
CD review: "Fiesta" Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
To download tracks from the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra's latest album "Fiesta" click here: