Gustavo Dudamel's skillful conducting and dedication to music drew international attention while he was just in his twenties and continues to attract diverse audiences throughout the world.
Dudamel began violin lessons at age 10 in Venezuela's El Sistema music program and then began studying conducting in 1995 with Rodolfo Saglimbeni. In 1999 he was named music director of the program's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, studying with El Sistema's founder, José Antonio Abreu. Just five years later, Dudamel won the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition and became a highly sought-after orchestral and opera conductor, working with such ensembles as the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Dresden Staatskapelle. Deutsche Grammophon signed him on as an artist in 2005, releasing his first recording -- Beethoven Symphonies No. 5 and 7 -- in 2006. It then released a video of Dudamel leading the Stuttgart Radio Symphony in a concert for Pope Benedict XVI in honor of his 80th birthday. In 2007, he became music director of the Gothenburg Symphony, with which he remained until 2012. That same year, Dudamel was the first conductor under the age of 30 in many years to be appointed to a major orchestra when he was named music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic beginning with the 2009-2010 season.
Dudamel's position with the LA Philharmonic was extended through its 100th anniversary season, and he continues to lead the Simón Bolívar Symphony, sometimes bringing the two orchestras together for projects such as the 2012 performances of Mahler's 8th Symphony, also released on video. He guest conducts widely, with several opera productions -- La bohème, Le nozze di Figaro, and Turandot -- filling some of his schedule in 2015-2016. His own score for the film Libertador was released in 2014, as was his recording of the John Adams opera The Gospel According to the Other Mary. In addition to video releases, Deutsche Grammophon has also issued digital only recordings, including parts of his inaugural concert with the LA Philharmonic and an all-Wagner program with the Simón Bolívar Symphony.
Dudamel is El Sistema's most famous alumnus and advocate, encouraging other communities to develop similar programs. He initiated the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and still spends almost half the year working with students in Venezuela. He remains steadfastly committed to inspiring others and making music accessible to all. ~ Patsy Morita