Back To Top

‘Music has the magic to conquer people’

Maestro Dudamel stresses musicians should uphold social responsibility

Star conductor, praised as one of the finest maestros today, is all about returning what he has received, especially to the younger generation.

Maestro Gustavo Dudamel is in Seoul with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, marking the acclaimed orchestra’s 100-year anniversary. The orchestra held two concerts over the weekend and Monday’s chamber orchestra performance, featuring Korean-American violinist Esther Yoo, will conclude the Seoul tour. 

Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel speaks during a press conference held Friday at the InterContinental Seoul Coex in southern Seoul. (Mast Media)
Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel speaks during a press conference held Friday at the InterContinental Seoul Coex in southern Seoul. (Mast Media)

On Friday, the orchestra’s music director Dudamel met with the press at the InterContinental Seoul Coex in southern Seoul.

“Seoul is a place that has a very special place in my heart, because of the warm, lovely audience that you have here and also one of the most important things -- the commitment to the new generation, the young people,” Dudamel, 38, said.

Born in Venezuela, he is a beneficiary of El Sistema, a government-supported music education program for low-income communities. Taking the position of the music director of Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra at 19, the wunderkind has gone on to become a superstar conductor. Since 2009, he has been the music and artistic director of the LA Phil.

“Music has the magic to conquer people. Whatever music it is, that is true. I grew up listening to salsa, Latin music, but I ended up who I am now. That is why I do not feel any borders between music,” he said.

Dudamel, who is openly critical of the authoritarian regime back in his home country, hopes music can be of help for Venezuela, which is going through a turbulent social and economic crisis.

“I believe music heals people. The crisis we are facing now in my country is unacceptable. I believe that in the moment of new times, music will heal society,” he said, adding that is what El Sistema is about. “It is about a place, where people get together, enjoy the power of the magic of music.”

Meanwhile, the conductor’s passion for education of the young continues. For this visit, he brought the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, also known as the YOLA, to perform with a local group.

“You cannot imagine how much I enjoy listening to a youth orchestra. To see myself, reflected in these children when I listen to them, I go back to my town and I see myself in that youth orchestra, dreaming with that note,” he said.

Dudamel has been leading the LA Phil, founded in 1919, for 10 years now, standing on the podium where many giants have stood -- Zubin Meta, Carlo Maria Giulini and Andre Previn.

According to the conductor, a unique spirit has developed between him and the orchestra -- “the love and the commitment to music.”

“We challenge ourselves all the time. We are an orchestra that loves challenges, is committed to music and community. We always see ourselves as more than entertainers. We are (an essential) element of society, of social justice and of social impact,” he said.

“That is why I am so proud to celebrate 10 years with the LA Phil. Music is the bridge to heal anger, to heal that unrest and to build spaces to see each other and (become) brothers and sisters.”

By Im Eun-byel (