Can Gael Garcia Bernal actually conduct?

Can Gael Garcia Bernal actually conduct?


norman lebrecht

January 13, 2016

We’ve just received this clip of Gustavo Dudamel sharing the baton with his alter ego in ‘Mozart and the Jungle’.

gael garcia bernal

What we like best is the actress who plays Deborah Borda, prez of the LA Phil.


  • Doug says:

    Seriously? Who is this?

  • William Ford says:

    “Mozart in the Jungle” is a thoroughly enjoyable show that may actually take classical music to people who never appreciated it before. Gael Garcia Bernal is charming and sometimes actually looks like he is conducting. Dudamel, Bell, Ax (among others) make brief appearances. Dudamel plays a stagehand! I look forward to season 3.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      Among others includes Lang Lang and Alan Gilbert.

    • Bruce says:

      “….is charming and sometimes actually looks like he is conducting.”

      Excellent description of Dudamel as well 🙂 (To be fair, this is a good description of many conductors)

  • cherrera says:

    Hear the Hair.

  • V.Lind says:

    I have not seen this series, though I believe I read the book upon which it is based, if it is by a tetchy over-sexed oboist, a few years ago. However I am familiar with some of the work of GGB, and look forward to seeing it in future. Meantime, it, and he, were both deemed good enough to win Golden Globes the other night. They have a pretty good track record on television.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Series 2 is better at nailing the world of classical music, since it’s all about the vicious and ruthless machinations of a smug money-grubbing board and their hatred of overpaid, stroppy musicians who are threatening to strike. Plots ripped from the headlines of Slipped Disc!

    • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

      The series is almost too much fun. I just watched the episode where Lang Lang, Alan Gilbert, Manny Ax and Josh Bell make extended cameos in what looks like the funnest bar in NYC. Lang Lang is hilarious (almost completely stealing the episode), and Gilbert and Bell get into a fight about whether bowling is more difficult than conducting. The real fun, more subtle, is that Bernal has Gilbert’s job, making Gilbert’s mere existence a bit of an inside joke.

      • Minutewaltz says:

        I agree – that episode was the best in a thoroughly enjoyable series. Lang Lang was brilliant – maybe he’s got a career as an actor as well as a virtuoso pianist ahead of him.
        The show and Gael Garcia thoroughly deserved their Golden Globes and I’m looking forward to series 3.

  • Brian Hughes says:

    No one has answered your question, Norman. In a word: No.

    That said, I did enjoy quite a bit of season one though I’ve not yet tuned in for number two. But Bernal’s conducting has always driven me more than a bit bonkers.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    The only actor I have ever seen who could really fool you as a conductor is Ed Harris.

    • M2N2K says:

      Haven’t seen EH, but the one who greatly impressed me personally in podium action is Kevin Kline. About 15 years ago he actually conducted for a few minutes a small orchestra in which I was playing – and he was extremely convincing.
      A few decades earlier, the multi-talented Danny Kaye was truly wonderful too.

    • William Safford says:

      What about David Ogden Stiers? I once spoke with a musician who plays in an orchestra conducted by him.

  • Alvaro says:

    My phone just threw a red alert of increidble insularity, so I had to come and say two things: 1) its not TV, its an Amazon Prime show available to only those with a subscription. 2) the beauty of the internet is that one can produce shows for any kind of niche groups that would never work on normal TV, just to soothe their egos and make them consume. 3) I have not met anybody outside of musicians, who either watch the show and think its good. Its actually a tremendously poor acted pastiche, which is surprising because I actually like(d) GGB’s acting…until now.

    Its so sad, and honestly hilarious, thst you think this is somehow bringing classical music to the “masses”. Its mostly for musicians…its not and will never be a Friends, Seinfield, or other actually well produced series.

    But if it makes you feel like your hobby or your profession is worth more just bc you see the show…go for it.

  • Rick says:

    Christoph Waltz always wanted to be and would be great playing a conductor. He reads scores and knows the music inside out. Hoping he doesn’t appear on mozart in the jungle. It’s beneath him.

  • greenery says:

    It kind of disappoints me that so many classical music fans — fans who are so thrilled that there’s suddenly a pop culture product that claims to depict their world — are willing to overlook not only how terrible this show is (which probably deserves a full stop) but how bizarrely it misrepresents the classical music industry.

  • Dori says:

    Interesting comments. I’ll just say I am not a musician, nor do I spend time with musicians. Yet I love this series, as do a whole group of folks that I know. It’s just fun and enjoyable. And that is really all that is necessary.

    And yes, it is bringing music to some people. I am not a classical music fan, yet I have begun to like it due to what I’m hearing here. And now I want to know more.

  • Johnnie Robertson says:

    I absolutely love the show and I am not a musician, nor am I in the arts.

  • Melbourne-Aus says:

    I absolutely love this show too! Both my parents were classical musicians and maybe it was just Cape Town but we had A LOT of crazy conductors and soloists at our house during my childhood and while these are not their stories the whole scene read msg very true. My brother, also a muso but more in pop and jazz now loves this show as does my mother who was a principal flautist (although she is not crazy about the swearing). There were tantrums, affairs, egomaniacal and also kind conductors – the actors are doing a fantastic job. Do they have to be perfect on their instruments? No! One of the most enjoyable aspects is the music at the credits according to a lot of my non-musical friends who are now binge-watching. So yes, it has definitely introduced them to more classical music. Love love love this show.

  • Susan Howland says:

    As a classical musician, I have enjoyed most of the plotlines in this series. But I wish Bernal, et al, had learned the basics of conducting. It’s not just about flailing your arms about.