David Bohnett was instrumental in securing Gustavo Dudamel as music and artistic director for the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Dudamel offers his perspective on culture, community, and the importance of an early introduction to music.
CSQ As a native Venezuelan who has enjoyed success leading orchestras in many different parts of the world besides Los Angeles, what do you feel music contributes to society as a whole?
GUSTAVO DUDAMEL Music is a fundamental human right. Making music and listening to music creates harmony. I like to think of how beautiful the world could be if we all interacted like an orchestra, creating harmony. Music as a concept is a powerful element for social change.
CSQ How do you feel that classical music has the ability to enrich the lives of young people?
GD Classical music is music for everyone. People may say it’s crazy, romantic, but I believe it and I will continue to work to bring it to as many people as I can. Culture is one of life’s necessities, and the orchestra is an essential tool for teaching discipline and teamwork, enriching lives, and providing opportunities to young people, many of them having access to it for the first time in their lives. Exposure to and working with classical music can help these young people to become leaders and to change their lives and those of their family and community.
CSQ You were inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema program to create Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA), giving inner-city children the opportunity to explore the world of classical music performance. What are your primary goals with YOLA?
GD At the LA Phil, we are deeply committed to the orchestra’s social as well as its artistic imperatives. With that principle in mind, we developed the leading El Sistema-inspired program in the United States: Youth Orchestra Los Angeles or, as it is popularly known: YOLA. YOLA provides free, after-school instrumental instruction to children in underserved communities throughout Los Angeles to help disadvantaged children transform their lives. The program has been so successful that we have expanded it to include three sites. / laphil.com