Gustavo Dudamel Masters Opening Night with American Icons at LAPhil

Gustavo Dudamel for LAPhil | Sam Comen

Gustavo Dudamel opens the 2019-2020 season on his 10th Anniversary at LAPhil with a program filled with American composers. 

Courtesy of Los Angeles Philharmonic

The opening of the 2019-2020 season for LAPhil didn’t need any additional fanfare as seen in the past. Dudamel’s talent and elegance were enough. While the official Centennial Birthday Celebration Concert & Gala is scheduled for October 24th, 2019, marking 100 years since LAPhil’s first concert, Dudamel did an excellent job all on his own.

Dudamel chose four pieces to fill the evening, beginning with Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 which included the elegant voice of Soprano Julia Bullock. You felt as if you were on a long summer walk through someone’s memories and that’s exactly what Barber intended when he scored James Agee’s essay. Bullock sings, “It has become the time of evening when people sit on their porches,| rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street | and the standing up into | their sphere of possession of the trees, | of birds’ hung havens, hangers. | People go by; things go by.

James Agee wrote “Knoxville: Summer, 1915,” in 1938 and it is best described as a dreamy and whimsical piece of prose reflecting on his past summers with his family at home in Tennessee. Dudamel took us on that journey with precision and depth.

Julia Bullock | Courtesy of LA Philharmonic Association

Dudamel followed with George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1925, featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet who has been hailed as “one of the best pianists in the world,” performing Allegro, Adagio – Andante con moto and Allegro agitato, heavily influenced by jazz but rooted in a classical tradition. The timpani drums rumbled your soul during this piece moving into elements of the blues and ragtime which had you feeling as though you were flowing across a dance floor to a Charleston rhythm. He continued the program with André Previn’s Can Spring be Far Behind? and finished with an incredible performance of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring Suite.

Courtesy of Los Angeles Philharmonic

If you didn’t catch opening night, no need to worry. Head over to to secure tickets for future shows throughout the season.