I remember where I was the first time I heard the song Take Five.
I remember where I was the first time I heard the singer Eva Cassidy.
And I remember where I was when I first saw conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
It was on my couch last night with Jennifer and Levi watching a PBS Masterpiece Performance of Gustavo conducting the LA Philharmonic through a George Gershwin tribute, much of it performed with the legendary pianist Herbie Hancock.
I found myself laughing.
Laughing at how funny he looked.
Laughing at how much fun he was having.
Laughing at him laughing.
Laughing at how brilliant he was.
And laughing at the staggering fact that he is the conductor of the esteemed LA Philharmonic at just 29 years old.
His mission? To inspire an entire generation to embrace music, believing that the pursuit of music by every child – regardless of their eventual vocation – will undermine the human poverty of spirit the plagues some if the world’s darkest corners. Including his homeland of Venezuela.
I’ve always loved classical music, but culturally its never had the X factor in my generation to make it mainstream. Most of today’s listeners have a musical appetite of 3-minute chunks of highly processed cheese whiz, not 20-minute non-repeating movements of genius.
But I honestly think Gustavo could change all that.
For one, he’s young. He’s incredible to observe. And he loves the modern and avant guard as much as he does the classic. Seeing him conduct makes me want to go out and buy everything he’s ever recorded.
For another – and far more importantly – he’s involved with a movement to teach music, through the program known as El Sistema, to children around the world.
If classical music ever had a chance to become mainstream today – or maybe even to survive – Gustavo is its hope. He’s the X factor. And the LA Philharmonic made the best acquisition of its existence.
Like many churches that have failed to embrace the value of reaching the next generation, the concert halls and orchestral stages of the world must no longer been seen holding only white, elderly scholars of staff and measure, but the young, the colorful, the vibrant, and the joyous.
True art does not depict the world as it is; that is the pursuit of satirists and critics. True art depicts the world as it should be – as its best.
Here’s to inspiring a world-wide movement of appreciating the greatest music the earth has ever heard this side of heaven. ch: