Discover Dudamel at the Barbican – review
World renowned Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel urged Hackney musicians to play with passion during an open rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet
An afternoon at the Barbican watching firebrand conductor Gustavo Dudamel rehearse with a group of young musicians was billed as ‘Discover Dudamel’. But the enthralled audience ended up discovering much more than the Venezuelan’s talents.
The mixed-ability orchestra of more than 100 young people from across London and Los Angeles played Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet – rather badly at first.
Then Dudamel, in his infectiously enthusiastic manner, began to deconstruct the piece and coax a more heartfelt performance from the musicians. The transformation was a joy to behold.
“We cannot play only the notes,” Dudamel told his young charges. “We have to play the content inside the notes.”
He went on to plead with the teenagers to put passion in to their portrayal of Shakespeare’s great tragedy. After a lacklustre rendition of a segment representing Romeo entreating Juliet, Dudamel commented: “If Romeo were to go like this, Juliet would be off with another man”.
The afternoon ended with Dudamel addressing the audience about the importance and beauty of music, and how we all experience it so differently.
He gave a rousing speech on the importance of providing children with access to music, and giving them a chance to appreciate its gifts.