Berkeley RADICAL kicks off with Gustavo Dudamel

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel is a worldwide symbol of the importance of teaching music to young people and an advocate for arts accessibility. And he’s here in Berkeley for a four-day residency that kicks off Cal Performances’ new Berkeley RADICAL initiative — which is all about getting new audiences excited about the arts.

Cal Performances video from Dudamel’s last residency at Berkeley, in 2012.

Dudamel famously first conducted when he was 12. At 34, he is conductor of the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Dudamel credits Venezuela’s El Sistema program, which brings music and music education to all young people, and is an outspoken advocate for arts accessibility. (Read more about El Sistema and Berkeley RADICAL in a California Magazine feature.)

“Being able to combine music, learning and ideas is at the heart of the new Berkeley RADICAL, and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra and I are very happy to be returning to Cal Performances as part of this innovative idea,” Dudamel told Cal Performances. “We are proud to be Cal Performances’ first Berkeley RADICAL artists. I know from my own childhood in Venezuela that the arts can be the force and inspiration to imagine a better future. They transformed my life and have given generations of young people purpose and vision and hope.”

The residency brings Dudamel and his musicians to Berkeley for four days of music, symposiums, master teaching, lecture/demonstrations, a film screening and rehearsals open to Bay Area students of all ages. Today and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday), orchestra musicians are presenting concerts in three Berkeley middle schools. Today they were staging flash pop-up concerts at lunchtime in three spots around the UC Berkeley campus.

The residency culminates with Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Orchestra in concerts Thursday and Friday nights.

The Friday performance — Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony outdoors in the Greek Theatre — will be carried live online (audio and video) by a range of by media partners that include Univision, Medici TV, KDFC and KUSC. Full information is available in the Cal Performances media release.

The Friday night concert, writes Cal Performances’ executive and artistic director Matias Tarnopolsky in the Daily Cal, represents the joining of two great agendas: Beethoven’s and UC Berkeley’s. Read his piece, “Beethoven, the fine arts essential to successful student life.”

Complete information about Berkeley RADICAL and the Dudamel residency can be found on the program’s website.