Dudamel sets new LA season south of the border and left of centre

Dudamel sets new LA season south of the border and left of centre


norman lebrecht

June 23, 2021

Gustavo Dudamel rolled out his 21-22 season last night.

Projects include: the multi-year Pan-American Music Initiative (PAMI), curated this season by composer Gabriela Ortiz; the Power to the People! festival, organized by Gustavo Dudamel and Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock, bringing together musicians in every genre and distinguished guests in the humanities for a multidimensional vision of music and social change; a multidisciplinary, multi-genre Gen X festival paying tribute to the hierarchy-defying generation (1965-1980) that gave rise to hip-hop, riot grrrls, indie film and an explosion of new concert music transforming world culture….



  • RW2013 says:

    Does anyone ever ask the concertgoers in LA what THEY want to hear?

    • kh says:

      Their box office sales seem OK. It’s not as if they don’t play old masterpieces: Dudamel in Strauss Four Last Songs with Golda Schultz, Mahler 4, semi-staged Fidelio, Stravinsky’s three famous ballets, Beethoven 9; Mälkki in Poem of Ecstasy, Symphonic Dances; Salonen in Zarathustra, Sibelius 7; Mehta in Mozart Great Mass in C minor, Bruckner 9. Then there are guest conductors such as Bychkov in Mahler 7, Paavo Järvi in Dvořák 7, Canellakis in Shostakovich 10, Stutzmann in a program of Ravel and Mozart, etc. But of course they will advertise their most “out-there” programs in the season announcement to show their donors and critics they are “socially relevant”…

      You can look at the chronological listing of events here: https://ucarecdn.com/29310371-2b2f-42c3-9a7c-37b46faf3e7d/-/inline/yes/

    • Paul Wells says:

      They ask every time they sell tickets. Until 2020 there were more concerts in a season than a decade earlier; the tickets aren’t cheap; and the hall routinely sells out.

  • Barry says:

    And I thought we had it bad in Philly.

    As I said beneath another post the other day, my suburban CD collection keeps looking better and better.

    I’m not paying a social justice toll to get my music.

    • Bill says:

      Whatever happened to buying tickets for concerts you want to attend? Seems like a philosophy that people of nearly any viewpoint can use. No real need to alert others in the public at large to what you like, either. Go, or go not, as Yoda might say.

  • FrankInUsa says:

    Sounds great. It’s about time. The LA Phil should visit the Miami Area. Maybe even a residency. The Cleveland Orchestra has a Miami Residency but there are rumors that it is tenuous.

    • Stephen Owades says:

      The Cleveland Orchestra has a Miami residency because it opens up fund-raising opportunities for the orchestra, whose home city is neither large or rich enough to support a “Big Five” operation on its own. And many of Cleveland’s wealthy are snowbirds, spending winter months in Miami. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has major year-round money in its home town, and doesn’t have the same needs as Cleveland does.

  • V.Lind says:

    Well, that will shut up all those people who are eternally whingeing about yet another Beethoven concert!

  • J Barcelo says:

    Well, it is certainly innovative, inclusive and different. Trying to make the symphony relevant to a broader audience may be a worthy goal, and no doubt the deep pocketed supporters of the LAPO will be happy to dig deep to support this woke season. For those of us who like great orchestral music and don’t want to be lectured, this is a real turn off. Classical music struggles enough, can’t we just play great music and leave the social commentary to the NBA, NFL and MLB?

    • Paul Wells says:

      In the first two months of the season, the orchestra will play Schönberg, Strauss, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Brahms, Korngold, Ravel and Beethoven. Incidentally, a little reading will reveal that several of these guys were very much in the business of social commentary.

      • Marfisa says:

        Thank you, you beat me to it. Prokoviev, Mendelssohn, Bartok, Sibelius, Shostakovich and Bruckner there too, later in the season.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Not that you’d notice, aye. I mean, it wasn’t rammed down your throat with a long-handled shovel as it is today. No jack-booting protections offered either.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s up to the Left to reign in its growing extremist rump; until that day it’s going to be very worrying.

      • Bill says:

        For someone often going on about educational standards, it is amusing that you don’t know when to use reign and rein.

      • Wez Debussy says:

        Reign in the right’s extremis Trump. Look at the damage done there before divisively whining about politics on a music page.

  • sam says:

    I literally laughed out loud reading the program.

    It’s like reading Austin Power’s nemesis, Dr. Evil’s secret plan to destroy classical music.

    It’s like every orchestra is trying to outdo every other orchestra in revealing a more woke-than-thou season, and this one takes the prize for going over the top.

    I’m still waiting for the first orchestra to ban all white male composers from their season.

    To be topped by the orchestra to ban all white male audience members.

  • Marfisa says:

    As so often, SD’s selective reporting is designed to provoke the dinosaurs.

    The full program looks exciting, and broad-ranging, with plenty of the established canon for those who only want that sort of thing:


  • El Cid says:

    It was a huge mistake for Maestro Dudamel to break with his country. By supporting the discredited and United States “opposition”, he alienated many of his supporters in his country of Venezuela. He may redeem himself in the eyes of the suffering Venezuelans if he condemns the suffocating economic embargo and the theft of Venezuelan assets in the US.

    • Sam McElroy says:

      Is this some sort of a sick joke? Dudamel uttered a vague, Miss. Universe pronouncement about democracy long after his and your friends had destroyed what was left of your country, and after a musician had been shot through the neck at close range – along with 154 others -as late as 2018! That was four years after your homicidal mafia of a regime started shooting its own students in the streets, which Dudamel did nothing to protest, instead uttering vapid words on a NYT video interview about Venezuela being “like a virgin with growing pains”. He never broke with his country, he wouldn’t have the moral backbone to make such a bold decision. That is how his PR people are now trying to frame it, to have him emerge as some sort of human rights hero. What egregious nonsense. As for the suffering Venezuelans, my wife is one of them – a Venezuelan artist that DID speak out against your murdering thugs – and we have two suffering Venezuelans living in our home as refugees. Your country is suffering because your moron of a bus driver and drug lord drove the already doomed Chavista bus over the cliff. Theft of assets?????? Are you drinking diesel fuel? It is TO the US and Spain that your thieving oligarchs and enchufados brought their stolen assets! Just look at Miami and Madrid real estate records! That’s why the assets have been frozen! So why don’t you go do something useful, like taking care of the young Venezuelan musicians being raped and abused in your equally tyrannical and mendacious music system. Or haven’t you read the papers recently?

  • Snoozefest says:

    They have wrapped it up in a lot of fancy packaging, but aside from a couple quiet surprises, the programs are, dare I say it, boring and largely unimaginative. The NY Phil’s program was far livelier.

    • Bill says:

      The ultimate question is whether the halls are full. Maybe you think many of the programs are boring, but if the houses are generally full, they are doing a good job of matching supply and demand.

      • BP says:

        If the only thing an orchestra is meant to do is sell tickets, there’s no reason for the LA Phil to be the LA Phil.

      • HarryCollier says:

        The halls would be full to capacity if the orchestra went home and left it to the pop music group du jour.

  • David Rohde says:

    I think the season looks terrific. Sure, there was some recourse at the top of the announcement to current social-movement cliches. Yes, I can see how that sets some people off if they don’t read much further. But I think we’ve seen enough of these season programming announcements to know when orchestras are just copycatting one another on the latest perceived mandates. When you get into the details, the LA Phil isn’t just doing that at all, as far as I can see. The Pan American, Gen X, and contemporary film music themes are nicely carried off. A major American orchestra performing Duke Ellington and Herbie Hancock? Perfectly natural. On the more accustomed repertoire, the Shostakovich Tenth? Korngold’s Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti? Good stuff again, why not? Dare I say it’s possible with these combinations of programs to create the actual habit of going to concert hall among new people?

    By the way with regard to the idea of asking or specifically “surveying” people on what they want, I’m sorry but ultimately that’s a trap. You have to DO things and then measure the results. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen cultural and other non-profit type organizations become paralyzed over the process of surveying and interpreting results and implementing any changes. The consultant Aubrey Bergauer has discussed this in more depth both in short video bursts on Twitter and long, detailed articles on Medium. Check those out.