Have you hit your 10,000 hours playing the violin?
This fall marks the beginning of a new era for both the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with its new Music director, Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, 28, and the New York Philharmonic, with new Music Director Alan Gilbert, 42. When I think about both these new conductors, certainly I am thinking about change and new energy. But I'm not focused completely on youth, like, say, this Newsweek article, which proclaims "A Youthquake Hits Both Coasts" and talks about it as if both orchestras are undergoing "youth movements." BTW I love what Ian Salmon says in his Sound Post News about the Newsweek article, "Click to read the Newsweek article containing the words 'buttress' and 'contemporaneity.'"
Because I live in Los Angeles (and did attend Gustavo's big premiere), I know more about that scene than I do about the one in New York. Despite his "youth," I would dare call Dudamel a veteran conductor, having taken the baton at age 15 and being named the conductor of Venezuela's huge youth orchestra, Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, at age 17. I'm thinking he's put in his 10,000 hours. I can't even reconcile that kind of experience with the conducting students I remember from college, conducting to the far wall of the listening library as they listened to recordings on headphones and watched their scores. So scarce was their actual experience! Inexperience does not equate to exciting conducting.
Nor does newness and novelty. The fact of the matter is that the changes happening in the Los Angeles classical music scene did not spring fully formed from some"youthquake." The LA Phil's new home, the extremely popular and pleasant Disney Hall, was born only after a painful and attenuated 16-year labor, involving many cost overruns, acoustical overhauls, delays, etc. And you need only to read this article to understand that LA's search for a new conductor began from a years-long effort, started well before LA Phil conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen was to step down, to replace him. Leading the effort was Salonen himself, and Deborah Borda, president of the L.A. Philharmonic.
So far, tickets seem to be flying for LA Phil concerts. Would you like to see Gil Shaham, playing the Berg concerto, with Dudamel conducting? Good luck! And yes, that would be the Violin Concerto by Alban Berg, not exactly a pander-to-the-masses piece.
As for Gilbert, here is an article about his premiere, and I do invite our New Yorkers to go into more detail. But here is some information: you could say that Gilbert is a kind of product of the orchestra, the son of two New York Philharmonic musicians, violinist Yoko Takebe, and retired violinist Michael Gilbert. He is the first Asian American to lead the New York Philharmonic and he studied at both Curtis and Harvard. He is an American, and he is a New Yorker; he will likely spend his time in the city. From what I have read (I have not seen him conduct) he is known to speak from the podium, to embrace new music and to have a quiet, easy-to-follow elegance to his conducting.
In both cases, the change is bringing attention to the orchestras, and one can only hope that the excitement will translate to larger audience and the potential to build loyalty.
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With Joshua Bell completely making over his Manhattan home to accommodate at-home performances, I've been thinking:
We've been talking so much about Sarasate this week; it made me think about all the crazy wicked tricks a person can perform on the fiddle. Adele Anthony said it well in this week's interview, that Sarasate "was also a violinist, so he wrote very well for the violin – everything is possible, if you work at it hard enough."
More entries: September 2009
Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles wraps up her coverage of the 2013 Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies, held at The Juilliard School in New York.
The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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