DANVILLE - The hottest star in classical music, 29-year-old Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel, will conduct the venerable Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts on Sept. 27, during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
“This is the jewel in the crown of the Fortnight Festival,” Alltech founder and president Pearse Lyons said, referring to the arts and entertainment festival that will coincide with the games, Sept. 25 to Oct. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park.
The Danville engagement will be a rare United States appearance outside of New York for the Vienna Philharmonic, considered by most observers to be among the best, if not the best, orchestra in the world.
The only other United States appearance by the Vienna orchestra with Dudamel will be Sept. 30 at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the final concert in a series of three Vienna Philharmonic performances that will open the legendary venue’s 2010-11 season.
But they come to Danville first.
Norton Center director of programs and public relations Debra Hoskins said the process of inviting the Philharmonic and Dudamel started in February 2008, with the intention of attracting the biggest name possible to play Danville during the games.
“At first, I was told it was impossible to get the Vienna Philharmonic to come to the Norton Center,” Hoskins said. But she contacted the orchestra through the Austrian embassy in Washington D.C. and, “they were intrigued by the idea of coming during the World Equestrian Games.”
Hoskins said it was the VPO that, at her suggestion, secured Dudamel for the concert, part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival presented in conjunction with the games.
At the time, Dudamel was a rising star in classical music, known for his work directing the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and high-profile guest conducting gigs in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and around the world. His star has since shot across the music world’s sky having finished his first season as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Swed wrote Dudamel’s Los Angeles Philharmonic debut represented, “an embrace of a new generation and cultural point of view.”
In L.A., he is known as “The Dude,” and is celebrated by Hollywood glitteratti. His L.A. Phil debut was broadcast by PBS, he has been profiled on shows like 60 Minutes and 20/20 and he has been named on numerous lists of influential people, not just in music.
The Vienna Philharmonic is among the most storied orchestras on the planet, having given world premier performances of symphonies by Johannes Brahms and counted conductors such as Karl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein as its artistic leaders, though the orchestra has had no principal conductor or music director since 1933.
Tickets to performances of the orchestra in is home base of Musikverein in Vienna are as difficult to get as University of Kentucky basketball tickets, with waiting lists the only available option for subscription concert seasons.
For the Danville concert, tickets are $100 to $375 by calling 1-877-448-7469 or visiting the Norton Center box office. (Click here for a breakdown of ticket prices and seating locations.) There will be no online sales. The top tier tickets include a pre-concert dinner cooked by chefs flown in from Paris. (Note: Due to a miscommunication with the Norton Center, we previously stated tickets would go on sale Thursday, May 27. They are on sale now.) Centre College students will be able to attend the orchestra’s rehearsal for free.
But the event will also be available to people outside the Norton Center’s Newlin Hall. Pat Dalbey, president and general manager of WLEX, said the NBC affiliate is planning a live broadcast of the concert and portions of it may be used in NBC’s coverage of the Games. NBC is a sponsor of the concert along with a half-dozen local sponsors.
“It’s a community event of exceeding importance,” Dalbey said. “We know a lot of people who can’t get inside the hall will still want to be part of it.”
The program will include Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” and music by Bernstein and Maurice Ravel. The Danville audience will have some glitter of its own, with Princess Haya of Jordan, president of FEI, having accepted an invitation to the event.
At Tuesday’s announcement, Lyons said additional Fortnight Festival acts will be announced on June 17, 100 days from the opening of the games.