Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will be featured as this year’s Brown Family Speaker in an all-school assembly on Thursday, May 23.
The Brown Family Speaker series was established by Linda and Abbott Brown (Russell ’94, David ’96) in 2002 to feature individuals prominent in their fields.
Past speakers have included journalist Fareed Zakaria and architect Maya Lin. Dudamel, who won a 2012 Grammy and was named Gramophone Magazine’s 2011 artist of the year, will be the 13th speaker in the series.
Maria Gonzalez ‘13, on behalf of the Latino Club, approached President Tom Hudnut with the idea to invite Dudamel, a family friend, as the Brown Family Speaker.
Orchestra Director Mark Hilt said that there were preliminary plans to have Dudamel conduct students during the assembly in an “open rehearsal” before answering questions from the audience.
In the past, musicians invited as the Brown Family Speakers including world-class violinist Midori and jazz legend Herbie Hancock performed during the assembly instead of giving a speech.
The Venezuelan-born Dudamel was named the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009 when he was just 28.
“He’s a complete and total musician in every sense of the word,” Hilt said.
Dudamel is also known for working extensively with youth in music, Hilt said, notably through the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles program.
“He’s a wonderful musician and a sparkling personality,” Hudnut said. “His well-known affection for young people will be an inspiration for us all.”
Hilt noted Dudamel’s passion and technical skill and praised him personally, saying he had a “perfect personality” to communicate his talents.
“Teenagers get a little cynical and ironic—and [Dudamel] is not about that at all,” he said. “He’s about cutting to the humanity of every issue and why humans make music in the first place—and for him it’s one of the most important things we do as human beings on this planet.”