Modern Mashup

Bob Simon profiles 26-year-old Venezuelan conducting phenom Gustavo Dudamel on 60 Minutes. Read the full story at the link or watch this video:

The piece dwells lovingly on Dudamel’s (extreme) youth and passion, setting up a rather Obama-like “hope and change” narrative. Dudamel himself is apparently a product of El Sistema, a social change movement disguised as a youth orchestra program for poor Venezuelan children.

The elderly (by comparison) composer Osvaldo Golijov is the subject of several news items lately, including this pretty good, short introduction from Style magazine. Caught him last week on NPR, teaching inner-city kids to compose “beats” with a laptop. As with Dudamel, it’s hard to get a sense of the actual work, so in love are the journalists with the narrative. (In an interesting tie-in, the Style piece discusses a work Golijov wrote for Dawn Upshaw… who received a “genius grant” from the MacArthur foundation for (can you guess?) “stretching the boundaries of operatic and concert singing.” Much like Golijov a few years ago got one for what one might call musical globalization.

If one is interested in modern music (and I mean both “standard repertory modern” and brand new) a reputable source is Counterstream Radio, a project of the American Music Center.