Just in: Dudamel to play the Olympics

Just in: Dudamel to play the Olympics


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2019

The Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Gustavo Dudamel have been included in the Tokyo 2020 Nippon Festival, the cultural programme of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Why not Kirill Petrenko, the music director?

Because, unlike Dude, he has no profile in Asia?



  • Charlotte says:

    Mr. Petrenko has a Falstaff premiere on 5th of July in Munich.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Go The Dude!! Love your work.

  • ArtistvsMascot says:

    Because one is an artist and the other a mascot.

  • sam says:

    Why the Berlin Philharmonic, because Japan has no orchestras? (Nor Japanese conductors?)

    I can’t think of another Olympics where the host country didn’t (have enough confidence or pride to) use its own orchestra/conductor.

    • Steve says:

      Sam, Los Angeles in 1984 had over 400 programs in the Arts Festival, mostly from outside Los Angeles.
      This is the Arts Festival, not the Olympic Games. It’s not the equivalent of the LSO playing in the UK opening ceremony.

    • Tamino says:

      I like the idea. Olympic games are there to overcome national borders. That was the idea. “Alle Menschen werden Brüder.” Today that idea is perverted by rampant nationalism at the olympic games though. They should stop this decadent commercialized travesty altogether.
      No national flags, no national anthems, no fat corrupt national olympic committee members eating through free buffets.

      That would be my kind of games. Only people from all over the world competing peacefully.
      A bit like the Berlin Philharmonic.

    • Thomasina says:

      Just to say that these concerts take place outside the Olympic period (June 24th~27th). The opening ceremony is July 24th and the program has not yet been announced.

    • MacroV says:

      Despite the headline, it appears the BPO is just playing in a festival around the Olympics, as, I suspect, are a number of orchestras. It’s not the BPO playing in the Olympics opening ceremony.

    • Enquiring Mind says:

      Maybe they wanted to use the orchestra that many consider the best in the world for a special event like the olympics rather than a local orchestra? Ya think?

    • Tononi says:

      Sam, Japan has a plethora of great orchestras. In the spirit of the world coming together, I see this as a gesture of goodwill and inclusion.
      Plus, they are a great band!

    • Nick2 says:

      Every Olympic host city has also to organize an arts festival. The 2020 Nippon Festival is not the opening ceremony. There will be many events in a very extensive Festival. Already the Japan Philharmonic conducted by Kazuki Yamada is billed to perform
      2 Olympics concerts in August and I am certain at least one other if not more Japanese Orchestras will also be involved.

    • fflambeau says:

      Wrong. Very wrong.

      Tokyo alone has at least 4 orchestras. Here’s a link for you, since you seem unable to do much, to the Tokyo Philharmonic. It does have an Italian Chief Conductor, but it has numerous Asian and Japanese conductors too.

      Japan is very strong in clasical music.

    • fflambeau says:

      Link to a very good Japanese classical orchestra in Tokyo: https://www.tpo.or.jp/en/

  • Karlo says:

    Mr. Petrenko is a serious musician and Dudamel is a stick waving hairdo.

    • Djeedo says:

      That is bullshit!!!
      Both are outstanding conductors…I played with both of them,belive me!!!

      • V. Lind says:

        Of course it is. The recent Guardian and Observer reviews of Dudamel articulate clearly his strengths in the music he conducted in London. Nobody is saying he is the best conductor in the world — a title that cannot exist as everyone has varying strengths — but this constant abuse of him is absurd.

        It may have come if someone saw him in a poorer performance, of which everyone has some, or it could have been politically motivated, or it may just be envy that his rise seemed so meteoric (based, according to music directors I know who engaged him, on his evident talent) rise.

        But if you went with the comments around here, you would figure Dudamel could not conduct, Netrebko and Fleming could not sing, Lang Lang could not play, Philip Glass and Karl Jenkins could not compose, to say nothing of the abuse of non-opera singers who dare to include the odd aria in their repertoire. And of course there is Domingo — whose appearance on stages in recent years has been an insult to music, yet who now is lauded for his continuing appearances where he is still received.

        Nobody has to like every artist, let alone equally, and it is all right to favour one over another. But is there such a need to sneer at and try to denigrate those who seem to have fallen from favour, when so much of the music world — not all of whom can be pig ignorant — finds their work appealing enough to engage them? Dudamel finds a welcome at almost every major concert hall in the world. He simply cannot be all that bad.

        • Anon says:

          A joy to finally read some balanced, nuanced, intelligent, informed, multi-dimensional discourse so often missing from SD contributors….

          • Pacer1 says:

            Ha-ha-ha; and these other contributors seem to fancy themselves (armchair) critics. After reading nonsense like this, I often like to ask, “You’re not a musician, are you?”

            In the summer of 1971, I was a member of the orchestra playing for the five-week conducting course at the Mozarteum. We were very fortunate that Herbert von Karajan taught one of the classes during this course. As he observed each conducting student’s choreographed gestures and ‘grand’ conducting, he became increasingly more impatient until he stopped the class and stood to face all the young conductors. “You must understand,” he said, “that the rehearsal is the responsibility of the conductor. You must TELL them what it is that you want from the music they are playing. The concert belongs to the orchestra! If you must make extraordinary gestures, it means you have not done your job in your rehearsals.”

            I suggest some of those that dismiss Gustavo watch him again keeping Karajan’s words in mind, and compare this to some in the new crop of young conductors who flail away exuberantly in front of their orchestras.

          • RICHARD CRAIG says:

            very well put Pacer1

          • Petros Linardos says:

            Let’s take your suggestion a step further: why should anyone judge a conductor by watching them, unless they are orchestral musicians themselves and know the particular score? Why not judge by the musical results?

        • Anon says:

          And because the press – in this case, the Guardian and the Observer – says so, it simply HAS to be true, right?

          Hmm. . . I think I’ve heard this argument from you before, Ms. Lind, except last time what the AP said about Placido Domingo was the unquestionable truth, in your opinion.

          Press reports – in any publication – are subjective. They reflect the journalist’s opinions, background and knowledge of the subject matter. The press is not infallible and what we read in newspapers is not the Word of God.


          Your old friend Anon From The Domingo Threads

          • M2N2K says:

            Please forgive us for forgetting that you are the only one who is not “subjective” and who is capable of uttering “the Word of God”.

          • Anon says:

            Excuse me? Pointing out that journalism can be subjective has nothing to do with me or my opinions.

            I am commenting on someone who read in a newspaper that a conductor was good so she assumes it’s true.

            I would give more credence to the opinion of the commenter just before her who has actually PLAYED with both conductors. Reading something in a newspaper, be it the Observer, the Guardian or even the hallowed AP does not make something an infallible truth.

          • M2N2K says:

            You are excused. As long as you “give credence to the opinion” of those “who actually played” with the conductor in question, I am totally with you, because it means that you do respect artistic judgement of the musicians of BPO and VPO who have been playing with world’s finest conductors for years and keep inviting GD to conduct them at home, on tours and in recordings. As for the reviewers cited by “V.Lind” above here, of course they are subjective, but they do have one important advantage over most of those commenters who routinely dismiss GD here and elsewhere: these reviewers actually heard some of his recent performances with “his” orchestra and therefore they are indeed entitled to have an informed opinion about the musical results.

          • V. Lind says:

            Nobody has mentioned God. And if I cite teh Guardian and Observer reviews with respect it is because they offered reasoned and detailed accounts of their experience at the Dudamel concerts, not the sort of loony vitriol you get around here.

            Of course reviewing is subjective, but you should realise the difference between reporting and opinion pieces. The latter are expected to be formed subjectively — albeit with the thought and preparation their subject deserves. Reporters (e.g. the AP reporter on the Domingo issue) put down what sources tell them. At no point can you cite any example of the AP arguing either for or against Domingo, or taking a view on his continued employment with American orchestras and operas. They simply reported — REPORTED — what a number of women told them. Before publishing those stories they would have been checked and double-checked. How does anyone get to be an adult without understanding how newspapers work? Surely you are not internet generation, where any opinion, however illiterately expressed and unreasonably proffered, is seen to be as good as any other.

            As for Dudamel, while critical opinion from informed sources is useful, it is not as important as the fact that, as I pointed out, so many major orchestras engage him and so many major artists accept to perform with him. These are people who DO know their onions musically. Are they all wrong and the community of SD right?

            Sorry, not buying that. Not based on the quality of argument I hear around here.

          • Anon says:

            Yes, but the question remains – why did Jocelyn Gecker, the AP journalist who introduced the Domingo matter in the press, choose to report on that particular subject?

            The reporting may be well documented and correct, but the fact that out of all the possible perpetrators of unwanted sexual advances in the world, she chose Domingo, a high profile, artistically controversial figure who makes headlines even without a scandal, reflects an opinion, a choice on the part of the reporter. That is the subjectivity, in my opinion.

            Gecker CHOSE to report on Placido Domingo. Anne Midgette, a well respected music critic and author, although aware of Domingo’s behavior, CHOSE NOT to report on it. That is the subjectivity of the press, no matter how factual the reporting might be.

            Whether the it’s an opinion piece or factual reporting there is always some degree of subjectivity in journalism, in my opinion. The whole Domingo reportage was no exception, I believe.

            Music reviews are, of course, the very essence of subjective journalism. It’s one person’s opinion of a performance, or artist or conductor. I think that on that, at least, we can agree!

          • V. Lind says:

            Anne Midgette was not a reporter. She also worked in Washington, and may well have known Domingo very well indeed which, if she were a responsible journalist, would have meant her taking herself out of personal stories about him (while not colouring her critical responses to his work).

            As for AP — it is unlikely that they initiated this story. Someone would have come to them — let’s face it, very few reporters go around looking for opera stories. But even non-opera fans know who Domingo is, so they would have seen the news value of such a story. That’s a judgment call. You might see it as a bias, but after a lifetime in journalism, i would not.

            And I know that they would have consulted the lawyers at every stage. Who would have told them to make damned sure they kept AP’s nose clean.

            As for critics — I cited them because I had just read the reviews I referred to, and of course had not been at those concerts. I have addressed being at a few Dudamel concerts elsewhere. I am less concerned about how he rates in world league tables of conductors than I am with the SD critics — rather less qualified than those who wrote for the papers I mentioned — who seem to think they know better than the major orchestras of the world. Who consistently invite, and appoint, Dudamel.

          • Anon says:

            I have no opinion about Dudamel. As a prof. orch player I seldom pass judgement on conductors because it is my job to always see their point of view musically.

            I do however have strong opinions about what happened to Domingo and his trial by press in the US. I am from the US, but I haven’t lived there for many years. Living abroad has made me step back and evaluate in a new light much of what happens there. I heartily disapprove of what happened to Domingo in the US.

            Yes, the decision to do a story on Domingo was a judgement call. It was subjective. It was a decision meant to sell copy, raise awareness, make headlines. It embodies the worst of journalism and US culture: making money and sensationalism. Why Domingo? Why now? That was a subjective choice. It had less to do with the welfare of victimized women and more to do with AP’s business model and the bee in one reporter’s bonnet.

            Jocelyn Gecker had previously lambasted Charles Dutoit, so I’m sure she brought the story to AP. Anne Midgette is a JOURNALIST. Both she and Gecker have degrees in journalism, not “reporting”. Midgette CHOSE not to report on Domingo. That was her decision and it was a wise one.

            And again, AP’s lawyers and credibility have absolutely nothing to do with the fallacy of this situation. The fallacy is in the CHOICE to do the story, not the accuracy of the facts. You’ve bought into the American way hook, line and sinker, my friend.

            We Americans are capable of beating you over the head with facts or whatever it takes to prevail, often at the expense of compassion and doing what’s ethical. You’ve been beaten over the head with the AP’s power, credibility and impeccable facts which don’t consider the question of whether or not it was ethical to bring forward a story which nearly ended a artist’s reputation at the end of an illustrious career. It was not a mature or compassionate or wise decision, IMHO, for the AP to “report” on Domingo at this time in his career and in this manner. It was a childish, ignorant judgement call. Vindictive also comes to mind.

            But yes, certainly the AP has lots of lawyers and the facts are correct. That does not make it the right thing to have done. Not now not ever. People in most other parts of the world see that. The US does not. What a shame.

      • deborath says:

        No, they aren’t.

    • Jack says:

      Sniff . . . sniff . . . harumpff…

    • M2N2K says:

      Of course: a SWH who has been regularly invited to conduct Berlin Phil and Vienna Phil at their homes, on tours and in recordings.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    The Dude is charismatic like Bernstein.

    Why not?

  • Anon says:

    Yes. And it was the LSO who recorded the Olympic theme tune!

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      And had a major slot playing under Francois Xavier Roth alongside young players who had been brought together especially for the occasion. Unfortunately the televise segment was reduced to a comic turn featuring Mr Bean – negating the entire cultural rationale for involving them. A tiny snippet of Nimrod from the Enigma Variations survives on the soundtrack, swamped by the commentary.

  • Karl says:

    Petrenko does not like to travel but stands his commitments.

  • M. L. Liu says:

    FYI: The Berlin Phil concerts mentioned in this post are part of a “Spring Festival in Tokyo” June 24-27, which comes a month before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics July 24 – August 9. ” https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/notice/20191125-01.html
    There are likely plenty of other concerts/events for the Games that have yet to be announced.

  • Michael B. says:

    The highly overrated Dudamel is perfect for the farce that the Olympics have become–filled with commercialism, chauvinism, drug cheating, and fake sports (synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics). Where is Emperor Theodosius when we really need him?

    • M2N2K says:

      Highly overrated by whom? Certainly not by many SD commenters who keep dissing him regularly. Musicians of Berlin Phil and Vienna Phil who regularly keep inviting him to conduct them at home as well as on tours and in recordings – for over a decade now, – do know the difference in conducting quality very well.

      • buddy says:

        You must know that they don’t invite conductors solely for their artistry. If a conductor can get people in the seats (no matter how over-rated), he will be invited back

        • M2N2K says:

          Not solely, but primarily. Such illustrious and generously funded orchestras as BPO and VPO don’t have to worry much about putting bodies in the seats. With everything else being equal, they might give preference to the more popular conductor once in a while, but no orchestral musicians as highly qualified as they are would repeatedly and consistently sacrifice artistic quality of a conductor just for a better known name.

  • fflambeau says:

    Dudamel also brings recognition of South America; Petrinko?

    Dudamel leads the best orchestra in the USA, the LA Philharmonic (where his contract has been extended twice) and is a trained classical musician himself (he began playing the violin at age of 10). He’s known all over the world and is especially known for his classical music “outreach”. That’s not something that Petrinko is known for (although he might do so too).

    It makes lots of sense.

    As for the Japanese, they have many fine musicians and orchestras (I’ve lived there) and the people adore classical music. Their classical music television station is 24 hours a day every day and features music from all over the world.

    • M2N2K says:

      Good point, but the name is Kirill Petrenko.

    • rex says:

      The LAP, the best orchestra in the USA? You are kidding, correct? Absurd

      • Pancho says:

        I agree, and I live in LA and love the LAPHIL. The LAPHIL probably gets the most publicity and the musicians are some of the best paid, but that doesn’t mean they are the best. Artistically, we probably still lag behind the big five, and maybe even San Francisco.

        • Karen H says:

          All of the major orchestras in the US save NY Phil broadcast their concerts regularly. You could easily compare them if you care to. I agree with fflambeau’s assessment.

          • Bob says:

            I happen to listen to many of them, including the LAP. Orchestras who sound better (at least on the radio): Pittsburgh, Boston, Minnesota, Houston.

          • Karen H says:

            Then our ears must differ wildly.

          • Tamino says:

            I hear them regularly. No, it’s not so easy to compare. But the LA Phil is not the best orchestra in the US.
            And who comes even up with the nonsense idea, that was a category that matters?
            Is the whole society over the pond there infected with empty marketing nonsense and overzealous commercialism in the arts? Art is not sports or war. It’s not about winning.
            Where ALL the US orchestras lack in my experience, is in reaching people’s hearts. Their ideal is to sound like well oiled machines. It can get quite perfect technically, yet mechanical and boring.
            I sometimes want to storm on stage and shout: have you all forgotten what this music is about? It’s not about technical perfection!

  • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

    The NHK Symphony is a fantastic orchestra, are they not performing?

  • sorin says:

    silly decision.classical music is not to be played in huge open stadiums and simply not for the masses.that’s going to be a nuisance for the spectators and a simple ass-covering for the organizers.

  • Tichy says:

    Dudamel will be conducting an “Olympic Night” at the Waldbühne in 2020, which is Berlins annual Open Air to close the season:


    So he already knows that stuff.

  • Anon says:

    I used to dislike Dudamel, but must admit he’s getting better with age.

  • Rob says:

    Wow that’s terrible. Some sort of artistic, profile, discrimination going on here? Something to do with money, revenue? Absolutely rotten to the core, if so. As with everything else.