Venezuelan composer Gustavo Dudamel — conductor of Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in Caracas, the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and one of the most sought-after conductors worldwide came to MIT April 16-17 to accept the $75,000 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts presented by the Council for the Arts at MIT. In accepting the award, Dudamel took part in a whirlwind of activities on campus.
While at MIT, Dudamel led the MIT Symphony Orchestra in a public rehearsal of Mozart's Symphony No. 38 ("Prague") and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol," and he joined MIT professors John Harbison and Tod Machover in a panel discussion moderated by PBS journalist Maria Hinojosa on music as a social and educational project highlighting El Sistema and Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.
"Dudamel gave the orchestra an insightful, honest and helpful dose of what it's like to work with a world-class conductor," Keith Powers reported in The Boston Herald. "His suggestions and musical insights ranged from the quality of sostenuto to how to eat a hamburger, and every word of it got soaked up. The players were well prepared and certainly capable, and by the end of the session were playing with a quite sophisticated understanding of the potential in seemingly simple Mozartean phrases."
Graduate student Aravind Ratnam blogged about the rehearsal, writing, "Today's MIT Symphony Orchestra rehearsal conducted by Gustavo Dudamel was nothing short of spectacular ... Gustavo's face is euphoric with the reflection of the sun coming up. It is spring and you can almost smell the flowers ... I was on cloud nine throughout. It is not very often that I am moved to tears."