Conductor Gustavo Dudamel: ‘In music, there are no walls between cultures’

13 December 2019, 15:20 | Updated: 16 December 2019, 09:29

By Kyle Macdonald

The Venezuelan-Spanish maestro speaks out about music’s power to unite, while working with some of the UK & US’s finest young musicians.

Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the LA Philharmonic, has spoken out about the power of music to inspire and bring young people together, in an exclusive interview with Classic FM.

The Venezuelan-born maestro told us: “Music can create and unite. It is the best thing. There’s no wall between cultures. It’s a beautiful connection and when you make that sound together. It’s unique and beautiful.”

The conductor made the comments in November after an open rehearsal at an NYO Inspire Day in London’s Barbican Centre. Members of Classic FM’s Orchestra of Teenagers, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, were joined by young players from NYO Inspire and the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) – who have now combined under the new name, ‘Tuning into Change’.

The open rehearsal was part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel’s residency as Barbican International Orchestral Partner.

Dudamel said he was proud of all the young players and spoke of the need for more events like this.

Together, the musicians formed an orchestra of 140 players, and with the Venezuelan maestro they rehearsed Shostakovich’s Festival Overture. The session in the Barbican’s main concert hall was open to members of the public and hundreds of school children from all parts of London.

The young musicians themselves also spoke of the power of music to bring people together.

We spoke to a violinist in the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, who said: “For me it was crazy, I couldn't stop smiling, and then I saw the kids out front and they were enjoying it so much.”

17-year-old oboist Harvey Jones, an NYO Inspire musician from Belfast, said he had never played as part of such a big woodwind section. He said it was an incredible opportunity and felt like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get musical advice from a great conductor like Dudamel.

The young players said that although they were working with one of the world’s most in-demand conductors, in the rehearsal they felt they all met as equals. One of their trumpeters told us: “We feel like we’re professional, and [Dudamel] offering help and giving advice was really special for us.”

The conductor added: “Music has the power to take us to a special level of feelings and happiness. It’s magic and this is why we do what we do.”

NYO Inspire provides free opportunities to Grade 6-8+ teenage musicians to develop their orchestral playing (just like this opportunity with Dudamel) – find out more here. There are more NYO Inspire days coming up in 2020, in Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The LA Phil’s YOLA currently serves more than 1,200 young musicians, providing them with free instruments, intensive music instruction, academic support and leadership training. Fancy getting involved? Find out more here.