Here's an exclusive look at HUMANITY magazine's interview with Gustavo Dudamel
When denim brand Citizens Of Humanity decided to start its own magazine back in 2012, we were met with a well-curated online exploration into art, culture and fashion. Since HUMANITY has given readers an introspective look at everyone from Alicia Keys and Mike Tyson to Frank Gehry and Desmund Tutu. Interviewed by Jared Freedman and shot by Rafael Pulido, the next figure that HUMANITY wants us to get to grips with is the conductor and Director of the LA Philarmonic. He gives HUMANITY an insight into what it is like to work in Los Angeles, how he hopes to expand his team's audience and his own personal musical heroes. Here is a snippet of the article and then head over to the site to read more...
GUSTAVO DUDAMEL, THE CONDUCTOR AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF THE L.A. PHILHARMONIC, LIVES BY A SIMPLE IDEA: MUSIC CAN HEAL, SAVE LIVES AND UNITE US ALL, AND HE’S DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO THAT MISSION ...
GUSTAVO DUDAMEL: How is everything?
HUMANITY: Everything’s good. We’ve wanted to do this for such a long time. So you became music director here in 2009, and it’s pretty safe to say you had your choice of anywhere in the world, so why did you accept the job here in L.A.?
GD: I think it was a period of an explosion of things that happened to me. I won the Bamberg competition in 2004. It was an American competition, and then internationally I ended up becoming the symbol of a young conductor. I did have a position before becoming music director here, with the National Orchestra in Sweden, but I came here to visit and I didn’t understand anything. I came to Los Angeles; it was my first time here and I didn’t connect with the city. I watched the Hollywood Bowl for three days and it was like, “Wow, this is so big.” Musically it was wonderful, but the city was not connecting for me. But the second time it just clicked and I made a real connection with the orchestra.
I remember musicians coming to my dressing room to say, “What a wonderful way to make music—let’s keep doing this,” and at that point it was not a difficult decision to make. I think the conditions that Los Angeles brings to artists is amazing, is fresh, is new, is open. We have this wonderful hall, we have an incredible audience, the Hollywood Bowl. The orchestra is fantastic. We have been really working to create a personality together, so it was a combination of many elements. I started here when I was 29—I was a baby. It’s been a real time of growth for me and I’m proud of what we have done and for our future.
HUMANITY: Outside of the music, what do you love about living in L.A., and what do you end up missing most about home?
GD: Do you say diversity? Is that the right word?
GD: I love the diversity of the city. As a young person, it is really interesting and important to me. It’s inspiring how the community connects with the orchestra, with the art. How symbolic art is to this community. I think for a long time the world had a misconception of Los Angeles—it’s so much more than Hollywood. Los Angeles is full of so much culture and opportunity. We have to remember that in the middle of the 20th century a lot of artists came here—great artists, painters, philosophers, musicians—and the same thing is happening right now.
HUMANITY: What do you miss most about home?
GD: A lot of things—family, of course; friends; and the energy. But I feel Los Angeles has a similar energy to Venezuela; it’s one of the things that’s connected me with Los Angeles. There is this kind of energy—the traffic, the people.
HUMANITY: What do you think have been the major challenges so far in your tenure here?
GD: Challenges? Well, artistically, of course, always, and today I have more. It never stops. It’s kind of insane, because you get older and your brain opens, and opens, and opens—you’re searching for new things, new challenges. Of course we have many challenges to build on, as I mentioned: to grow our audience here; even though it’s big, and we are proud of that, we want to get bigger. For example, this season at the Hollywood Bowl I found the connection. It’s not the same to be in a hall with the perfect acoustics; it’s really not the perfect environment to play classical music, but I found that it’s perfect because it has the access. Every night we had 11,000, 12,000, 13,000, 15,000 people listening to classical music. So it’s these kinds of challenges, and every year we want to bring a younger audience, so we have to do programs that connect more with them, keeping the condition of the classical music but bringing something new. I think it’s fun.
HUMANITY: This kind of goes to that thought. In Venezuela, the idea of El Sistema is to bring music to all, correct? Music education for any child who has the desire?
GD: Yes. It’s about inclusion. The program is more about inclusion than the music even. It’s to include children in art, and that is beautiful because at the end of the day art is beautiful, you know.
HUMANITY: I would think it must be challenging to connect to those people who might not necessarily be seeking out classical music or even thinking it’s for them. Is that important to you to try to open up to that audience?
GD: It is, and we do in many ways. First with our programs, creating greater access, doing concerts for all communities; we also have YOLA, which is our youth orchestra, similar to Sistema. That connects with parts of the city that see classical music as very distant, or something very elitist. These may be the children of parents that are working very hard to support their families; maybe some of them are undocumented. These can be tough conditions for anyone, much less a child. Music and art can be healing; you see how the programs can change a child, change a family.
I received a letter about a month ago, a father writing to us saying, “Thank you. My daughter is going to college. She’s confident, helping other people, even writing poetry.” It’s how things can change through music, and imagine it’s not only one child you are impacting, it’s all the people around them—their family, their community. It’s an interaction that is amazing.