T-shirts were ten bucks, food was edible and entrance was free.
The performer was the Beatles. Yes, that's what Gustavo Dudamel represents, a break from the past, a long-haired youngster who spent his 10,000 hours in obscurity in Venezuela only to appear fully-formed at the Hollywood Bowl at the age of 28.
Ginny having decamped to Miami for a family event, Felice and I were the beneficiaries of her box seats. For this wondrous affair I would have missed if it weren't for this gift.
This was not the old farts of classical music. Hell, all the speeches were bilingual, speaking to the Hispanic crowd that conservatives would prefer go back to Mexico. Suddenly, classical music was everything popular music is not, inclusive and exciting.
There was a pre-game show. Involving everyone from Herbie Hancock to Taj Mahal and David Hidalgo.
Then, after a forty five minute break, where I purchased Felice her requested popcorn for a dollar, Gustavo Dudamel took the stage. In a t-shirt. To conduct the YOLA orchestra. That's Youth Of Los Angeles, an L.A. Philharmonic program based on the Venezuelan El Sistema that generated Gustavo himself. Kids from South Central L.A., who hadn't ever picked up an instrument, were now on stage at the Hollywood Bowl two years later, playing Beethoven's Ninth. The smile on Gustavo's face was only eclipsed by the one on Felice. This is her world, giving instruments to school children, it changes their lives.
Just like Liverpudlians took up guitars, gigged in Germany and the Cavern Club, these youngsters are starting at the bottom, with a goal of keeping away evil forces. In this case, not the mines, not hard
manual labor, but failed educations, dead-end futures and gang life.
Who cares if playing music makes you smarter, it certainly gives you something to live for. Hell, in a bunch of the disadvantaged schools Felice's charity, the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, has given instruments to, kids show up just to play. The same way you used to walk to the park to play baseball.
After a brief respite, the Philharmonic took the youngsters' place, Gustavo returned in a white dinner jacket, and the assembled multitude lit into Beethoven's masterpiece.
Yes, Dudamel did not deal with the music from a distance, he charged right in, bringing the orchestra with him. And not having attended a classical concert in eons, I didn't know they now the put the conductor on the big screen, from the musicians' perspective, so you can see him in action.
The passion! This isn't' someone searching to be famous, to get rich, it's clear he's moved by one thing only, the music! At times he jumped up and down, smiled, but when he closed his eyes in reverie to the music, seeming to channel heaven, not only were you turned on, you connected. For this is the experience of listening to one's favorite tunes.
And I'll always remember Beethoven's Ninth from "A Clockwork Orange".
I even bought the soundtrack, to march along in my head.
The finale brought an unexpected encore and fireworks, which usually seem hokey, but in this case were evidence of a celebration. The king has arrived!
Long live the king!