Dude bones up on his Elgar

Dude bones up on his Elgar


norman lebrecht

January 18, 2011

Watching a BBC4 rerun last night of John Bridcut’s thoughtful bio-doc of England’s iconic composer, I was puzzled by an early clip of a young woman conductor I had never clocked before. But, knowing the frugal way that Bridcut builds his films with few inessentials, it was only a matter of time before her significance was revealed.

Natalia Luis-Bassa is her name (here’s her website) and the causes of her enthusiasm went unexplained, though it appears she leads a couple of orchs in the north of England and has won an award from the Elgar Society. 
Home in Caracas, she was conducting the Elgar second symphony with the Simon Bolivar national orchestra and the zeal with which those musicians blew away the old pomp and circumstance was a wonder to behold. My eyes opened even wider when I saw the ruminative young dude sitting, lips pursed, just behind Natalia’s left shoulder.

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bsp;      photo: wikipedia
And there he was, Gustavo Dudamel, the Dude himself, soaking up English music like a citizenship candidate in a seedy Brighton language school. His first Elgar – who knows? But don’t be surprised of the man with the big moustache finds his way into the Dude’s LA playkit in the coming seasons.
Here’s Natalia conducting Elgar 2nd on Youtube.


  • Marie Lamb says:

    Interesting! She’s not one of those conductors who conducts the audience instead of the orchestra. She seems quite focused, and that controlled intensity gets across to the players, who are obviously getting into this standard like it’s something brand-new. No wonder Dudamel is watching and listening so intently! I hope he’ll take some Elgar back to LA with him, too, but his compatriot may be someone worth watching.

  • Frank Smith says:

    I agree with Ms Lamb, Ms Luis-Bassa is someone worth watching. I hope Dudamel will take Natalia as well to LA!

  • Steven says:

    Ms Luis-Bassa is the very same Maestra who walked out on the Huddersfield Philharmonic hours before a concert last November following a conflict with a musician. I know its not the Big Leagues, but I’m surprised that fell under your radar.
    story here

  • Charles Croft says:

    What a great article. I saw Natalia once and she was fantastic and very inspirational.
    No doubt Venezuelans are passionate about music!
    Well done, Natalia!