Gdnewyearcomments - Gustavo Dudamel

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30 December 2016

Gustavo on the Wiener Philharmoniker

These remarks were delivered by Gustavo Dudamel at a Wiener Philharmoniker press conference on December 28, 2016 in Vienna.


"Firstly, I’d like to add my congratulations to my dear friends at the VPO for 175 years of great music making.  They are a legendary ensemble and I am deeply humbled to sit here in their presence today.

My relationship with this wonderful ensemble dates back to 2007, and we have now performed over 46 concerts together, in Vienna and throughout the world.

A few highlights for me include: Carnegie Hall to open their season 2010/11, our very moving performances in Tokyo just after the Tsunami in 2014, and of course opening the new Symphony hall in Shanghai.  I can’t wait for our next huge tour to South America in 2018 - we will play to some of my favourite halls, from Carnegie to Teatro Colon, Teatro Mayor to the resplendent Bellas Artes.  We will musically unite North and South into one America.

I share not only a musical connection with the Vienna Philharmonic, but we share a passion for music education.  Many of you will know that I have spent some 31 of my 35 years in El Sistema in Venezuela, and owe everything I have and can do to this wonderful programme.  For that reason, I have dedicated my life to ensuring as many young people as possible, around the world, have access to the music I love. 

My first recording with the Vienna Philharmonic was a project of Mendelssohn, together with the Musikverein and Deutsche Grammophon to raise funds to further music education, and we have together been able to donate tens of thousands of Euros in musical instruments and equipment to young people, in partnership with the company Thomastik-Inkfeld, here in Vienna.

This year, we have continued and widened that commitment with our latest recording, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” on Deutsche Grammophon which is dedicated to continuing our common mission for youth, music and the message of peace through working with children, here in Vienna in the SUPERAR programme. 

These kids will not only be coming to the rehearsal this afternoon, but have been playing with members of the VPO for a special intermission feature, hosted by Dame Julie Andrews, which will be broadcast on New Year’s Day on PBS in the United States, and in other countries as well. My thanks and love to you, Dame Julie, for being here and sharing with us for this amazing project, to Clemens Trautmann at Deutsche Grammophon for believing in our vision, and to the wonderful staff and teachers at SUPERAR who are dedicated to enriching these precious, young lives with the gift of music.

You will note that the children of SUPERAR have also participated with their own “Pictures” for the cover artwork of our “Pictures at an Exhibition” album, making photos of each other while sharing music with their community. My special thanks to Tugba Kelesoglu, Tuna Kaya, Elis Pashalieva, Mercy Omowanile and many others for helping me with the cover design, and for coming to Salzburg this past summer to play music together and to share their wonderful pictures. The families of these children come from Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, but today, united by music, these kids are all Viennese! 

Of course, many of you here today are wanting to know how it feels to be the youngest conductor in the history of these New Years Day concerts, to conduct in front of tens-of-millions of people around the globe.  Well, it's one of the biggest challenges of my life, something that growing up in Barquisimeto in Venezuela, would have been beyond my wildest dreams.

But it’s been fun putting the programme together with Andreas, and thinking about this special music which has so much life, fun and happiness at its core. In the times in which we are living, I believe we have a deep responsibility in the arts to provide such music to the world, and again, I thank my dear friends here at the VPO for inviting me to come and share in this wonderful day of joy.

Let me share in closing my belief that access to music and art is absolutely essential and it cannot remain the exclusive domain of those who have the financial resources to pay for the lessons and the learning.  I will always remain committed to the power of music to unite, inspire and to heal.  Music is something that is deeply worthwhile, something filled with emotion; it is a gift which all of mankind deserves to hold, and to own. 

Think of this:  It is also something which - once you own it - can never be taken away.  You give a child the ability to appreciate music, art and beauty and that is a gift that child will carry with them through their entire life. 

In that way, art is the most important part of our education, and gives us a physical and temporal space in which to create beauty. 

So let’s create more art, more music, more beauty this coming year - that is my wish as we look to the future."