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:




Christian Fahey · 7 Jan ’12 at 9:10 am

“True art depicts the world as it should be – as its best.” Excellent post and great shout out for the importance of classical music and the torch being carried by the young. Hilary Hahn comes to mind immediately. A GREAT violinist and not even 30 (established in the mainstream since her teens).

    Christopher Hopper · 7 Jan ’12 at 11:50 am

    And then there’s the pop-classical group Bond…

    …’nough said.

    (And thanks).

Susie · 7 Jan ’12 at 12:05 pm

I’m thankful for a father who constantly played classical music all day long (not on the radio but on the piano) and making me listen to NPR even when I didn’t want to. haha I don’t listen to classical music generally, but if I get a chance I go to the concert…it makes my brain think so creatively..it leaves me breathless and I just want to go and paint the world with beautiful music. 🙂 I’m glad there is someone out there making it more mainstream.
Great post! 🙂

    Christopher Hopper · 7 Jan ’12 at 3:41 pm

    Man, that IS a privilege! Cool dad. And I love how you put the inspirational part. Well said.

Alyssa Hennessy · 7 Jan ’12 at 12:45 pm

Once upon a time, I was an accomplished cellist. My entire goal in life was to play with the London Philharmonic… the LA was next runner up. In 1998, cancer stole the strength and mobility in my left arm. At the time I thought all my dreams were shattered. Even though I’d been healed of cancer, the weakness in my arm remained. I attempted to relearn the cello, but my fingers tripped up the board and discouragement set in. That’s when I discovered photography. Photography can be accomplished one-handed… And I fell in love with a new art. But my fingers still wiggle when I hear a good cello. My shoulders still shake with vibrato when I hear an orchestrated masterpiece. My love for classical music may have waned, but it hasn’t disappeared…. Just under the surface of my broken heart lies a passion for orchestra. The sound of the timpani brings tears to my eyes and there’s nothing in this world closer to the rhythm of nature and the power of God than to witness the cacophony of many instruments and sounds whip into a symphony… Only at the mere shake of the conductors wand. Dudamel is truly a magician.

    Christopher Hopper · 7 Jan ’12 at 3:41 pm

    I didn’t know this about you! What a compelling story: dream, devastation, hope, new vision. You’re awesome girl. Thanks for sharing. And if you played the cello anything like how you take pictures, I’m sure it was magnificent to hear.

mooney · 7 Jan ’12 at 8:20 pm

I love to listen to classical. Most people think i’m just heavy metal/R&R, but one of my favorite concerts ever was amy grant with the syracuse symphony orchestra. Incredible.

I’ll have to look Gustavo up now.

    Christopher Hopper · 7 Jan ’12 at 11:28 pm

    That’s good to know about you. Cool!

    Let me know what you think.

Nathan R. · 7 Jan ’12 at 10:36 pm

I’m also a sucker for classical music even though I don’t listen to it very often. I’m proud to say both my kids love it too. It’s not uncommon while surfing the radio dial to have them ask to stop on the classical station and turn it up. Also my son has been taking cello for two years and saxophone this year. He really enjoys it, except for the practicing part. 🙂 My daughter likes to tinker on the piano, so who knows, maybe they’ll be famous someday.

    Christopher Hopper · 7 Jan ’12 at 11:30 pm

    Well, your kids are already brilliant; having them play instruments further puts them in the stratosphere in my opinion.

Billy Jepma · 8 Jan ’12 at 9:59 am

This is so true, I wish our generation would embrace classical music more. I can’t even say its my favorite kind of music, but it has more meaning, emotion, and impact than a lot (if not all) mainstream music. Thanks for sharing, might have to look this guy up now. 🙂

    Christopher Hopper · 8 Jan ’12 at 10:20 am

    You should def look him up! Let me know what you think.

    And if you continue to appreciate classical music and share your experience with your friends, then that is mainstream.

Billy Jepma · 8 Jan ’12 at 3:48 pm

Okay, so just listened to him and all I can say is wow. It blew me away, he kept me entertained, actually, enthralled for 10 minutes! While I turn on the radio and lose interest in minutes! Thanks for sharing man!

    Christopher Hopper · 8 Jan ’12 at 7:22 pm

    So glad!

    And you make a great point. Songs that are only design to keep our attention for 3 minutes tend to lose our attention just as fast when we know them. meanwhile classical music demands we develop an entirely different appetite to appreciate it.

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