“The evening is likely to go down as the coolest conducting debut in the history of the orchestra,” wrote the critic of the Tagesspiegel after the Waldbühne concert in June 2008. The man whose debut was described in such glowing terms was the then 27-year-old Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel who delighted press and public alike with a Spanish-South American programme. Even when he conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time that evening, he was no stranger to the musicians. An alumnus of “El Sistema”, Venezuela’s now world famous musical education programme, he had already made an appearance at the invitation of the orchestra in Berlin with the Venezuelan youth symphony orchestra, plus he had participated in an Orchestra Academy project and in a concert with members of the Philharmoniker. Since this spectacular debut, Gustavo Dudamel’s career has skyrocketed. He is currently music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, plus he is a coveted guest with major international orchestras. He is also to be found conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker on a regular basis.
Darling of the Media
And not only that: the orchestra is more than happy to invite him to conduct concert events which attract a lot of media attention. His Waldbühne debut was followed by the New Year’s Eve concert in 2010, then the European concert in Vienna in 2012 and another Waldbühne concert in 2014. This season too, he is conducting the end-of-season concert in the open-air arena in Berlin. The programme features music by Robert Schumann and Richard Wagner. “Wagner’s music contains innumerable elements of nature, so the Waldbühne is a perfect place to perform it,” Dudamel reveals in an interview for 128 ─ das magazin der Berliner Philharmoniker. In his opinion, open-air concerts offer a great advantage: “They give a large audience the opportunity to listen to outstanding works performed by excellent musicians.” The Berliner Philharmoniker and Gustavo Dudamel will also go on a short concert tour of Europe with the Waldbühne concert programme. A concert in the Berlin Philharmonie started of this year’s collaboration between orchestra and conductor: the programme includes Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony “From the New World” and has been broadcast in cinemas on 9 June.