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Gustavo Dudamel in Latest York: Selfies, Hugs and Mahler


The violins were tuning, the woodwinds warming up and the trumpets blaring bits of Mahler. Then the musicians of the Latest York Philharmonic began to whistle and cheer.

Gustavo Dudamel, one in every of the world’s biggest conducting stars, strode onto the stage this month for his first rehearsal with the Philharmonic since being named the ensemble’s next music director. On this system was Mahler’s epic Ninth Symphony.

“I can have the chance in the following few days to hug everybody,” he told the musicians, smiling and pumping his fist. “I’m very honored to turn out to be a part of the family.”

Because it happened, the orchestra’s latest hall, the recently renovated David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, was occupied that day, so Dudamel’s first rehearsal took place at its old home, Carnegie Hall. Dudamel said he felt a connection to Mahler, who conducted the Philharmonic at Carnegie when he was its music director from 1909 to 1911.

“This was Mahler’s orchestra,” he said, noting Mahler’s ties to Latest York when he wrote it. “Even in the event that they are usually not the identical musicians, they’ve that heritage of Mahler.”

While Dudamel doesn’t take the rostrum in Latest York until 2026, his five days with the Philharmonic this month, for rehearsals and performances of the Mahler, were an unofficial start. They got here at a moment of transition for him in additional ways then one: every week later he would announce that he was resigning as music director of the Paris Opera. But Latest York felt like a latest starting, and as he got to know the orchestra and the town, he offered a mantra for his tenure: “We can have plenty of fun.”

There have been Champagne toasts and rites of passage. In his dressing room Dudamel examined a Mahler rating that when belonged to Leonard Bernstein, a predecessor and noted Mahlerian. There have been hours of intense rehearsals, during which Dudamel urged the players to embrace Mahler’s operatic impulses and his varied style.

“It’s not bipolar, it’s tripolar,” he said of 1 passage. “That is Freud. A latest character — a latest spectrum of humanity.”

When Dudamel and the orchestra got back to Geffen Hall for the ultimate rehearsals and performances, there have been some surprises.

After a spectral whirring sound surfaced during an open rehearsal, he turned to the audience. “Possibly it’s Mahler,” he said.

Throughout his visit, Dudamel was greeted as a rock star, with musicians lining up for selfies and hugs.

“You’re a part of my family,” Cynthia Phelps, the principal violist, told him at a reception. “Welcome.”

Dudamel thanked the musicians, saying he never imagined he would someday lead one in every of the world’s top orchestras.

“To reach here, to realize this reference to you, is for me a prize of life,” he said. “We’ll develop this love, this connection.”

On the opening concert, Dudamel was nervous. As is his custom, he conducted the symphony, one in every of the repertory’s most sweeping and profound works, from memory. At the top of the piece, Dudamel abstained from solo bows, gesturing as a substitute to spotlight the contributions of the members of the orchestra.

Backstage, an aide handed Dudamel a glass of scotch.

“My God,” he said. “What a journey.”

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