On January 9, the Los Angeles Philharmonic broadcast a live concert into 450 movie theaters in North America, becoming the first orchestra anywhere to do so. The main conclusion to draw from this venture, which will be followed by two more broadcasts this season, is that Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra’s 30-year-old Venezuelan conductor, really does deserve all the hype lavished on him. As a spokesman for classical music, Dudamel is, quite simply, adorable—unapologetically enthusiastic and seemingly unaffected by the media storm that has swirled around him since he climbed onto the Los Angeles podium two years ago. Yet the broadcast also unwittingly revealed the limitations of filmed orchestra concerts, which must be overcome if the full potential of this effort to spread Dudamel’s magic is to be realized.
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