Monday, April 09, 2007

On National Classical Music Education, Youth Orchestras, Young Conductors, And The Future Of Classical Music In An Aging United States Of America

"Esa-Pekka Salonen, the onetime wunderkind from Finland who has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic as music director for 15 seasons, has decided to leave the orchestra when his term ends in 2009. His successor? A wunderkind from Venezuela named Gustavo Dudamel, one of the hottest — and youngest — conducting properties around.

Mr. Dudamel, 26, is a product of his country’s extraordinary youth orchestra system, founded three decades ago to help disadvantaged youngsters. It has grown into a network of scores of ensembles, training hundreds of thousands of musicians. He is music director of its capstone, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, which he joined as a violinist at 11....

When he takes over as music director in Los Angeles in September 2009, Mr. Dudamel will be all of 28, three years younger than Mr. Salonen was when he won the job.

Mr. Salonen, now 48 and also the product of a country that places great weight on musical education, said he wanted to devote more time to composition. Under his leadership the orchestra has won acclaim for its playing and inventive programming....

Other major American orchestras are in the throes of a conductor search, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, [and the National Symphony Orchestra] and the choice of Mr. Dudamel may put pressure on them to come up with daring and youthful choices of their own."

Daniel J. Wakin "Maestro of Los Angeles Philharmonic to Pass the Baton to a Wunderkind" New York Times April 9, 2007

William Kentridge, Zeno Writing, 2003.

Image credit: (c) William Kentridge. 2003. All rights reserved. Via With thanks.


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