Tickets & Events

Gustavo Dudamel conducts Desenne, Ginastera and Estévez

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Hall - Boston, MA View Map

For his second weeks of concerts, Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel focuses on composers from his home continent. Now resident in the U.S., Caracas-born Paul Desenne is an alumnus of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolivar, the orchestra of Venezuela’s remarkable music education program El Sistema, with which Dudamel is intimately connected. Desenne’s 2014 orchestral work Hipnosis Mariposa, originally commissioned by Gustavo Dudamel, is a tribute to the immensely popular Venezuelan songwriter Simón Díaz (1928-2014), whose famous song “La vaca Mariposa” is the basis for Desenne’s upbeat, colorful score. Gustavo Dudamel has been a stalwart champion of the Venezuelan Antonio Estévez’s important Cantata Criolla for chorus and orchestra. Composed in 1954, the cantata sets a text by the Venezuelan poet Alberto Arvelo Torrealba. The great Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s sparkling Piano Concerto No. 1, from 1961, was premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Featured Performers & Ensembles

Gustavo Dudamel
View biography in full page >

As an internationally renowned symphonic and operatic conductor, Gustavo Dudamel is motivated by a profound belief in music's power to unite and inspire. He is currently serving as Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the impact of his leadership extends from the greatest concert stages to classrooms, cinemas and innovative digital platforms around the world. Dudamel also appears as guest conductor with some of the world's most famous musical institutions: in 2017/18, he tours Europe with the Berlin Philharmonic, and takes the Vienna Philharmonic on a tour of the Americas, with concerts in New York's Carnegie Hall, Mexico City's Bellas Artes, Bogotá's Teatro Mayor, and the Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile, as well as the famed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. This season also sees Dudamel's return to the opera house, conducting a new production of Puccini's La bohème at the Opéra National de Paris.

With Dudamel now in his ninth season as Music & Artistic Director, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has dramatically expanded the scope of its community outreach programs, most notably through his creation of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), influenced by the philosophy of Venezuela's admired El Sistema, which encourages social development through music. With YOLA and diverse local educational initiatives, Dudamel brings music to children in under-served communities of Los Angeles. These programs have in turn inspired similar efforts throughout the United States, as well as in Sweden (Hammarkullen), Scotland (Raploch) and around the world.

For the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Dudamel, not only is the breadth of audiences reached remarkable, but also the depth of programming. LA Phil programs continue to represent the best and boldest in new music, including numerous premieres and commissions by composers such as John Adams, Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner, Arvo Pärt, Sofia Gubaidulina, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho. A series of concerts focusing on Mozart's late works kicked off the season, as well as Festival CDMX, featuring the music and artists of Mexico. The Winter and Spring of 2018 pay tribute to the 100thbirthday of Leonard Bernstein, with performances of Mass and Chichester Psalms. The season also  features a Schumann festival, including a new production of Das Paradies und die Peri, staged by Peter Sellars In early 2018, the LA Phil also tours the United States and Europe.

Now in his 19th year as Music Director of the El Sistema project in Venezuela, Dudamel remains committed to his vision that music unites and transforms lives, and he advocates the combination of music and the arts as essential to the education of young people around the world. Dudamel's commitment to young people and music is fuelled by his own transformative experience in El Sistema, a program initiated by José Antonio Abreu in 1975. In addition to his ongoing commitment to the children, teachers and orchestras of El Sistema in Venezuela, Dudamel devotes much of his time to education and programs promoting social change through art. Dudamel has appeared at the United Nations and the White House to raise awareness for the role of music education in social development. Further afield, he has worked on numerous occasions with El Sistema Japan and with the Sendai Youth Philharmonic in the wake of the 2011 tsunami. He actively supports projects such as Big Noise in Scotland, Vienna's Superar program, SerHacer in Boston, and El Sistema Sweden, with whom he initiated an international "Orchestra of the Future," comprising young people from five continents, to perform on the occasion of the 2017 Nobel Prize Concert.

Recordings, broadcasts and digital innovations are also fundamental to Dudamel's passionate advocacy for universal access to music. His discography includes landmark recordings of John Adams' Gospel According to the Other Mary  (commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic); the sound track to the motion picture Libertador,  for which Dudamel also composed the score; Mahler Symphonies 5 and 7 with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra; and Mahler 9 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A unique performance of Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand," featuring the combined forces of the LA Phil, the Bolívars and over 1000 choristers and children from across Venezuela, was captured for DVD/Blu-Ray and broadcast live to cinemas in the US and Canada. A film documentary, Let the Children Play, featuring Dudamel, was also shown in over 500 movie theaters nationwide. A special charity LP release of Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic raised funds for music education projects in Latin America, and children from Vienna's El Sistema-inspired Superar program participated in his most recent Deutsche Grammophon release of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, also with the Vienna Philharmonic. Dudamel has independently produced an all-Wagner recording available exclusively for download, a complete set of Beethoven symphonies for digital learning, and a broadcast of two Stravinsky ballets with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in cooperation with the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall.

Gustavo Dudamel has been featured three times on CBS's 60 Minutes  and was subject of a PBS special, Dudamel: Conducting a Life. He appeared on Sesame Street with Elmo, with Charlie Rose, Conan O'Brian, and on The Late Showwith Stephen Colbert.  Most recently, Gustavo had a cameo role in Amazon Studio's award-winning series Mozart in the Jungle, guest-conducted on the soundtrack for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and, together with members of YOLA, became the first classical musician to participate in the Superbowl Half Time Show, appearing alongside pop stars Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. In 2017, he was the youngest-ever conductor to lead the Vienna Philharmonic's famous New Year's Day Concert, watched annually by over 60 million people in 90 countries.

Gustavo Dudamel is one of the most decorated conductors of his generation. He received the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award in 2016, and the 2014 Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School of Music. He was named Musical America's 2013 Musician of the Year, one of the highest honors in the classical music industry, and was voted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame. In October of 2011, he was named Gramophone  Artist of the Year, and in May of the same year, was inducted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in consideration of his "eminent merits in the musical art."  The previous year, he received the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT.  Dudamel was inducted into l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as a Chevalier in Paris in 2009, and received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado in his hometown of Barquisimeto. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg in 2012. In 2008, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra was awarded Spain's prestigious annual Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts and, along with his mentor José Antonio Abreu, Dudamel was given the "Q Prize" from Harvard University for extraordinary service to children. He was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2009.

Gustavo Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He began violin lessons as a child with José Luis Jiménez and Francisco Díaz at the Jacinto Lara Conservatory. He continued his violin studies with Rubén Cova and José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin American Academy of Violin. His conducting studies began in 1993 when he was hired as an Assistant Conductor with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. In 1996, he studied with Rodolfo Saglimbeni and was named Music Director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, he was appointed Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and began conducting studies with the orchestra's founder, Dr. Abreu. Dudamel was brought to international attention by winning the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition in 2004. He then went on to become Music Director of the Gothenburg Symphony (2007-2012), where he currently holds the title Honorary Conductor. Inspired by Dudamel's early musical and mentoring experiences, the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation, a registered charity, was created in 2012 with the goal of promoting access to music as a human right and a catalyst for learning, integration, and social change.

Gustavo Dudamel Sergio Tiempo Sergio Tiempo
Aquiles Machado, tenor Aquiles Machado, tenor Gustavo Castillo, baritone
View biography in full page >

Born in Barquisimeto (Venezuela), he started his studies at "El Sistema", a revolutionary music education program in his home country, under the guidance of the tenor Ídwer Álvarez.

After his debut at the age of 25 with the role of Shaunard in La Bohème  he has appeared as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Sacristan in Tosca and Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore. Other roles include Valentin in Diana Daniele's Faust, Dandini in La Cenerentola for children, an adaptation by Alexander Krampe of Rossini's work.

His extensive international concert work includes W. A. Mozart, A. Faist, M. Duruflé and G. Fauré's Requiem, Mozart's Coronation Mass, Bach's Magnificat, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Orff's Carmina Burana and Antonio Estévez' Cantata Criolla and many other.

Since 2016, he is member of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala in Milan where he as recently appeared as Peter in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel and Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for children.

Future engagements include Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro alla Scala, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in tour in Tuscany, Foscari in Il Bravo at the Wexford Festival Opera, Cantata Criolla with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Gustavo Castillo, baritone
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
View biography in full page >

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver (1939-2018), Founder

Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season. In February 2017, following appearances as guest chorus conductor at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and having prepared the chorus for that month’s BSO performances of Bach’s B minor Mass led by Andris Nelsons, the British-born James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Ch

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO this season for performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (October 25-30), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (November 29-December 1), Puccini’s Suor Angelica (February 21 and 22), and Dvořák’s Stabat Mater (February 28-March 2) all under Andris Nelsons, and Estévez’s Cantata Criolla (April 11-13) with guest conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Also in October, the TFC performed Maija Einfelde’s Lux aeterna with James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, making his subscription-series conducting debut. Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season. In February 2017, following appearances as guest chorus conductor at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and having prepared the chorus for that month’s BSO performances of Bach’s B minor Massled by Andris Nelsons, James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. Mr. Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair on the Boston Symphony Orchestra roster.

Though first established for performances at the BSO’s summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO’s subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall; the ensemble now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. It has performed with the BSO on tour in Hong Kong and Japan, and on two European tours, also giving a cappella concerts of its own on those two occasions. The TFC made its debut in April 1970 at Symphony Hall, in a BSO performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Its first recording with the orchestra, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance of 1975. The TFC has since made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops, with Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Colin Davis, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. In August 2011, with John Oliver conducting and soloist Stephanie Blythe, the TFC gave the world premiere of Alan Smith’s An Unknown Sphere for mezzo-soprano and chorus, commissioned by the BSO for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella music marking the TFC’s 40th anniversary; Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé (a 2009 Grammy-winner for Best Orchestral Performance), Brahms’s German Requiem, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra (a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission). On July 4, 2018, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joined Keith Lockhart for the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” on the Charles River Esplanade.

Besides their work with the BSO, TFC members have also performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and in a Saito Kinen Festival production of Britten’s Peter Grimes under Seiji Ozawa in Japan. The ensemble had the honor of singing at Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral; has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics; and can be heard on the soundtracks of Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, John Sayles’s Silver City, and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. TFC members regularly commute from the greater Boston area and beyond to sing with the chorus in Boston and at Tanglewood. For more information about the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and upcoming auditions, please visit



James Burton
View biography in full page >

James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. He made his BSO subscription-series conducting debut in October 2018, leading the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Maija Einfelde’s Lux aeterna. Born in London, Mr. Burton holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister, and was a choral scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata. He made his debut with the Boston Pops in December 2017 and returns to the Pops podium this coming December. He is a regular guest of the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional of Mexico and returns this season to lead performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Opera credits include performances at English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, and the Prague Summer Nights Festival, and he has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera and Opéra de Paris. Mr. Burton’s extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed in the inaugural season of Dubai’s Opera House in 2017. From 2002 to 2009 he served as choral director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. He was music director of Schola Cantorum of Oxford from 2002 to 2017. Mr. Burton is well known for his inspirational work with young musicians. In 2017 he was director of the National Youth Choir of Japan; he has recently conducted the Princeton University Glee Club, Yale Schola Cantorum, and University of Kentucky Symphony. In 2018 he founded the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir. Mr. Burton has given conducting master classes at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Tanglewood Music Center, and founded a scholarship for young conductors at Oxford. His growing composition portfolio contains works for commissioners including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the Exon Festival, where he was composer-in-residence in 2015. In July 2019, Mr. Burton will conduct the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir and Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his The Lost Words, as part of next summer’s gala Tanglewood on Parade concert. His works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky chair, endowed in perpetuity.


Program Notes Audio
Paul DESENNE - Hipnosis Mariposa
GINASTERA - Piano Concerto No. 1
ESTÉVEZ - Cantata Criolla