From Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel (b. 1981) is the principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden and the current music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also directs the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, a Venezuelan youth orchestra.
As a child, Dudamel was involved in El Sistema, the publicly financed method of music education in Venezuela. The system manages hundreds of youth orchestras and funds instrumental training throughout the country. Over ninety percent of the children who grow up in this system are from low socio-economic backgrounds (El Sistema website).
He is inspiring as a result of his upbringing, however he has become known as a conductor through numerous conducting competition successes worldwide (Dudamel Fact Sheet website). Dudamel is a driving force on the podium, and he brings an enormous source of energy that excites the musicians and his audiences.
Of his conducting, Dudamel exudes passion, intensity, and enthusiasm. He is by far my favorite living conductor. Every second on the podium, he projects a strong personality. His facial expressions are often extreme (more so than Simon Rattle’s), his patterns are in accordance with the intensity of the music, and his body language on the podium is bouncy and confident.
The video below sums up why I am on this man’s bandwagon. Check it out:
He uses the entire podium as a stage to shape the sounds in front of him. Dudamel often silently mouths words and phrases to his musicians from the podium in addition to his gestures. He sets the pattern aside to focus on phrasing to ensure that every measure of each piece he conducts is alive with the composer’s intentions.
A short 60 Minutes excerpt from Dudamel’s first rehearsal with the LA Phil:
Some more resources if you’re interested: