On Friday, March 30, Princeton University Concerts officially announced that Gustavo Dudamel will be the Artist-in-Residence for the 2018–19 academic year. Dudamel was invited to the University as part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Princeton’s concert series and is the series’ first artist-in-residence of the season.
Currently, Dudamel is the music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and the music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel is one of the most prominent classical conductors in the world and has won many awards, including the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Dudamel will come to the University at three points in the year, organizing chamber concerts with players from the two orchestras he directs as well as the Berlin Philharmonic. Each of these concerts will explore a concept within the theme “art and society” and will be followed by a panel discussion with Dudamel.
These chamber concerts will also each feature an original composition by faculty members of the music department.
Dudamel will also conduct the April 2019 concert, which will be a collaboration between tbe Princeton University Orchestra and Princeton University Glee Club and will raise money as part of a fundraiser. The concert will work to assist the Trenton Music Makers program as part of Dudamel’s extensive work in advocating for community music outreach programs. The second performance of this concert — which in the past has typically been held in Richardson Auditorium — will instead be a free performance in Trenton.
According to PUO conductor Michael Pratt, Dudamel is “one of the most important musicians in the world.” Pratt hopes to use next year’s efforts in music outreach to connect University musicians with young musicians in Trenton.
Pratt is not only looking forward to the opportunity to relate to Dudamel as a musician, but also to watch the way that he works as a conductor with University musicians. Pratt added that Dudamel is one of the few conductors of such prestige who would participate in this residency and that Dudamel is passionate and excited about working with students.
“To say that it’s a big deal, those are very pale words,” said Pratt. “It’s a massive deal.”
Orchestra co-president and bassist Megan Chung ’19 said that Dudamel’s residency “doesn’t seem real” and that she thinks he will bring significant attention to the University’s music program. Chung explained that she has personally looked up to Dudamel for years and thought that she would never have the opportunity to see him in real life.
Allison Spann ’20, social chair of the Glee Club, said that she has “never seen somebody who was so heart and soul into the music.”
Spann added that it is extremely valuable for the choir to hear from new people, and that Dudamel will bring a completely original perspective to the music.
Although Dudamel is known for his orchestral conducting, Spann argues that instrumentalists also provide valuable insight into singing. Overall, Spann thinks that Dudamel will create a “remarkably exciting cultural experience.”