Acclaimed Conductor Gustavo Dudamel to Lead Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Rare Guest Appearance April 7 & 9
Distinctive program to feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
Gustavo Dudamel, music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a luminary in the classical music world, will step in to lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts on April 7 & 9 at Heinz Hall.
An internationally renowned and award-winning symphonic and operatic conductor, Dudamel rose to fame in 2004 as the winner of the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition. He is currently in his eighth season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he has dramatically increased the depth and breadth of both the organization’s programming and reach, offering numerous premieres and commissions by leading composers. He also has inspired greater community outreach programs, including most notably the creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), influenced by Venezuela’s admired El Sistema, which encourages social development through music.
Dudamel also serves as music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. He recently conducted the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Eve concert, becoming the youngest conductor ever to do so. His influence extends into the pop culture world as well. He is the inspiration for Maestro Rodrigo De Souza on Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” (and made a cameo appearance on the show’s second season); he conducted the opening and closing credits of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” soundtrack at the invitation of composer John Williams; and he appeared during the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show with YOLA alongside Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.
“I am delighted that Pittsburgh will have the wonderful and rare opportunity to welcome my colleague Gustavo Dudamel to Heinz Hall. His artistry is formidable and it truly will be a special experience for our gifted musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony to join forces with Maestro Dudamel during these performances. I know that it will be a fantastic collaboration,” remarked Music Director Manfred Honeck.
The program for the weekend’s concerts will include Strauss’ Don Juan, Wagner’s Overture to Tannhauser and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Dudamel joins the Pittsburgh Symphony fresh off a European tour with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, performing the complete Beethoven Symphony cycle in Spain, Austria and Germany.
Reflecting upon his month-long European tour with the Beethoven cycle, Dudamel recently remarked, “In Beethoven, there is no absolute truth, but an expansive truth. His music can be interpreted in so many different ways — I see Beethoven as an explosion of the spirit!”
Dudamel is replacing Christoph von Dohnányi, former music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, who recently suffered a hairline fracture of the pelvis. He canceled his scheduled appearance with the Pittsburgh Symphony in order to rest and avoid causing further damage. The Pittsburgh Symphony looks forward to his upcoming performances at Heinz Hall next season (November 3 & 5, 2017).
“We wish Christoph von Dohnányi a swift and complete recovery and look forward to hosting him at Heinz Hall soon,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “We are thrilled that an artist of Maestro Dudamel’s caliber was available and excited to take on the opportunity to lead Pittsburgh’s amazing orchestra. The music they will make together will be incredibly inspiring!”
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2016-2017 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM 89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
About the Artists
As an internationally renowned symphonic and operatic conductor, GUSTAVO DUDAMEL is motivated by a profound belief in music’s power to unite and inspire. Currently serving as music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, the impact of his leadership extends from the greatest concert stages to classrooms, cinemas and innovative digital platforms around the world. Dudamel also appears as guest conductor with some of the world’s most famous musical institutions: in 2017, he tours Europe with the Berlin Philharmonic and is the youngest-ever conductor to lead the Vienna Philharmonic’s famous New Year’s Day Concert, watched annually by more than 50 million people in 90 countries.
Now entering his eighth season as music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel’s contract has been extended to the end of the 2021-2022 season. At his initiative, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has dramatically expanded the scope of its community outreach programs, including most notably the creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), influenced by the philosophy of Venezuela’s admired El Sistema, which encourages social development through music. With YOLA and diverse local educational initiatives, Dudamel brings music to children in underserved communities of Los Angeles. These programs have in turn inspired similar efforts throughout the United States, as well as in Sweden (Hammarkullen) and Scotland (Raploch).
At the Los Angeles Philharmonic, not only the breadth of audiences reached is remarkable, but also the depth of programming performed under Dudamel. LA Phil programs continue to represent the best and boldest in new music, including numerous premieres and commissions by composers such as John Adams, Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner, Arvo Pärt, Sofia Gubaidulina and Kaija Saariaho. A West Coast tour kicks off the LA Phil’s 2016-2017 season, followed by season highlights including Haydn’s Creation, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, the world premiere of Andrew Norman’s New Work for Orchestra, Part 2, several pieces by Lutoslawski and a series of evenings contrasting the works of Schubert and Mahler.
Dudamel’s work in his native Venezuela serves as the cornerstone of his engagement with young people, and he steadfastly commits some 25 weeks of his annual schedule to the orchestras and children of El Sistema, both in Caracas and around the country. During his 18th season as music director of the entire El Sistema project, he continues to lead the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, as well as on tour around the globe. Following a late summer 2016 European tour, the Bolívars and Dudamel launch the Carnegie Hall season in New York with three programs. In March 2017, they perform entire Beethoven symphony cycles in Barcelona, Vienna and for the opening of Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall.
Recordings, broadcasts and digital innovations are also fundamental to Dudamel’s passionate advocacy for universal access to music. A Grammy Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2005, Dudamel’s discography includes landmark recordings of John Adams’ Gospel According to the Other Mary (commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic), the soundtrack to the motion picture Libertador, for which Dudamel also composed the score, Mahler Symphonies 5 and 7 with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler 9 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A unique performance of Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” featuring the combined forces of the LA Phil and the Bolívars and more than 1,000 choristers and children from across Venezuela, was captured for DVD/Blu-Ray and broadcast live to cinemas in the United States and Canada. A film documentary, Let the Children Play, featuring Dudamel, was also shown in more than 500 Fathom movie theaters nationwide. A special charity LP release of Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic raised funds for music education projects in Europe and Latin America. Dudamel has also independently produced an all-Wagner recording available exclusively for download, a complete set of Beethoven symphonies for digital learning, and a streaming broadcast of two Stravinsky ballets with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in cooperation with the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall.
Dudamel has been featured three times on CBS’s 60 Minutes and was subject of a PBS special, Dudamel: Conducting a Life. He appeared on Sesame Street with Elmo, with Charlie Rose, Conan O’Brian and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Most recently, Gustavo had a cameo role in Amazon Studio’s award-winning series, Mozart in the Jungle, guest-conducted on the soundtrack for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and, together with members of YOLA, became the first classical musician to participate in the Superbowl Half Time Show, appearing alongside pop stars Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.
Dudamel is one of the most decorated conductors of his generation. He received the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award in 2016, and the 2014 Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School. He was named Musical America’s 2013 Musician of the Year, one of the highest honors in the classical music industry, and was voted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame. In October 2011, he was named Gramophone Artist of the Year, and in May of the same year, was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in consideration of his “eminent merits in the musical art.” The previous year, he received the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. Dudamel was inducted into l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as a Chevalier in Paris in 2009, and received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado in his hometown of Barquisimeto. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg in 2012. In 2008, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra was awarded Spain’s prestigious annual Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts and, along with his mentor José Antonio Abreu, Dudamel was given the “Q Prize” from Harvard University for extraordinary service to children.
Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009, Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He began violin lessons as a child with José Luis Jiménez and Francisco Díaz at the Jacinto Lara Conservatory. He continued his violin studies with Rubén Cova and José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin American Academy of Violin. His conducting studies began in 1996 with Rodolfo Saglimbeni and, that same year, he was given his first conducting position, music director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, he was appointed music director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and began conducting studies with the orchestra’s founder, Dr. Abreu. Dudamel was brought to international attention by winning the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition in 2004. He then went on to become music director of the Gothenburg Symphony (2007-2012), where he currently holds the title honorary conductor. His early musical and mentoring experiences inspired his life-long commitment to music as a catalyst for learning, integration and social change.
The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.
HEINZ HALL FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Heinz Hall hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.
Editors Please Note:
Friday, April 7, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 9, at 2:30 p.m.
BNY MELLON GRAND CLASSICS: Dudamel Conducts Beethoven 5
GUSTAVO DUDAMEL, conductor
Don Juan, Opus 20
Overture to Tannhäuser
Ludwig Van Beethoven:
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67
I. Allegro con Brio
II. Andante con moto