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Arts and Entertainment

Inspiration! Meet Gustavo Dudamel, the New 27-Year-Old Conductor of the LA Philharmonic

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If you don't know Gustavo Dudamel's name yet, get ready. Not only will he be a Los Angeles cultural icon, he will be an international one. Hailing from Venezuela, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra hand picked the young (his birthday is in a few days) and well-known conductor known for his intensely fun energy and passion for music.

The LA Phil introduced the world to Dudamel today at Walt Disney Concert Hall inviting guests and also streaming the event live on the internet (his wife watched from Venezuela). He was introduced with a special video with clips of people all over Los Angeles--from Pink's Hot Dogs to Hollywood Blvd.--welcoming him. "Wow," he said, blown away and short for words as he came out on stage. "So amazing. No words. So exciting." He then let out a huge sigh, looked out at the audience of 300 and went "Oh God." Everyone laughed.

What we can't translate is the energy he brings to a room. His presence is magnetic. His body language and the way he speaks about music emits pure joy, love and energy. You can just feel it. If there's one thing to say about this next year with the LA Phil, it's going to be a fun ride. After all, he affectionately calls world renowned architect and the man behind Walt Disney Conert Hall, Frank Gehry, "Pancho."

"We'll have a wonderful time together," he said, speaking to Los Angeles as a whole. One of Dudamel's themes is involving the community and bringing a new audience to classical music, but also not abandoning the fans that already exist. In Venezuela, classical music is hip to the younger generation, but in America, that's not exactly the case. "The internet is the way to save the arts. Classical has many faces--for us it is important to have many people."

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American composer John Adams, who is always partnering with the Philharmonic, made a special surprise to visit his friend Dudamel and talk about the Left Coast, West Coast Festival that will be happening next December. If you like 20th Century Music, the festival will feature some of the best of the best from the West. Adams wants to explore the question, "is there such a thing as a California sensibility?" During the festival, he will premiere a work based on Los Angeles 1940s called "City Noir."

Dudamel will also be curating a festival called Americas and Americans that seeks to dissolve the borders between the two continents. "It's important to have an America without divisions, to be one America."

It's cheesy to say, but it feels like he's the Obama of classical music when he talks about working with the community. "We can bring not only music, we can give to the people peace, we can give to the people hope. Right now in the world we need peace and justice. With music as our weapon, we will try to help the world change."

The afternoon ended with Dudamel talking about music education programs with the Phil. To him, orchestral programs for kids is not about creating musicians, but to help them in life. "To play in an orchestra, it feels amazing... Music is only one. Classical, pop, mariachi, everything is one."

And Los Angeles is the leader he says. "I think LA right now is an example for the rest of the world." Chills were felt throughout the room. Dudamel means business, with a smile, of course.