About Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel's skillful conducting and dedication to music drew international attention while he was just in his twenties, and he continues to attract diverse audiences throughout the world. El Sistema's most famous alumnus and advocate, Dudamel encourages other communities to develop similar youth music programs.
Dudamel was born on January 26, 1981, in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He began violin lessons at age ten in Venezuela's El Sistema music program and then began studying conducting in 1995 with Rodolfo Saglimbeni. In 1999, he was named music director of the program's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, studying with El Sistema's founder, José Antonio Abreu. Just five years later, Dudamel won the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition and became a highly sought-after orchestral and opera conductor, working with such ensembles as the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Dresden Staatskapelle.
Deutsche Grammophon signed him on as an artist in 2005, releasing his first recording -- Beethoven Symphonies No. 5 and 7 -- in 2006. It then released a video of Dudamel leading the Stuttgart Radio Symphony in a concert for Pope Benedict XVI in honor of his 80th birthday. In 2007, Dudamel became music director of the Gothenburg Symphony, with which he remained until 2012. That same year, he was the first conductor under the age of 30 in many years to be appointed to a major orchestra when he was named music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic beginning with the 2009-2010 season. Dudamel's position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic was extended through its 100th anniversary season, then again until 2022. He continues to lead the Simón Bolívar Symphony, sometimes bringing the two orchestras together for projects such as the 2012 performances of Mahler's 8th Symphony, also released on video.
Dudamel continues to guest conduct widely, with several opera productions -- La bohème, Le nozze di Figaro, and Turandot -- in his repertoire. His score for the film Libertador was released in 2014, as was his recording of the John Adams opera The Gospel According to the Other Mary. In addition to video releases, Deutsche Grammophon has also issued digital-only recordings, including parts of his inaugural concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and an all-Wagner program with the Simón Bolívar Symphony. In 2017, Sony Classical issued the live album Neujahrskonzert / New Year's Concert 2017. In 2019, Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic released the album Andrew Norman: Sustain, which received two Grammy nominations, winning the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Dudamel's success and admiration for El Sistema has led to his advocating for similar programs in other communities. In 2007, Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic initiated the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, which serves more than 1,200 musicians, providing educational support and free instruments. He continues to spend a considerable amount of time working with students in Venezuela. He remains steadfastly committed to inspiring others and making music accessible to all. ~ Patsy Morita