Holy Hugo Chavez! Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra showed up every orchestra everywhere that's ever played the "Mambo" from Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story when they played it at the Proms on August 19. (That sentence seems to capture well the hysterical hyperbole attached to almost every published word about this conductor and group.) If only every orchestra played the movement with that much natural swagger, and just watch those kids dance! GTL Torn T has the video, and thanks to Opera Chic for the tip. (Great headline, too, Ms. Chic.) If only every orchestra was tricked out with that much Latin percussion, a lead trumpeter on loan from the Ellington band (is that Cat Anderson's little brother?), and jackets flying the colors of Venezuela's flag, too. Performance for the ages, that is.
Update: I have fond memories of hearing Simon Rattle conduct Bernstein's Wonderful Town at the Proms in 1998, with the likes of Audra McDonald, Kim Criswell, and Thomas Hampson, and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. There were a couple Nancarrow player-piano studies that had been orchestrated and conducted by Thomas Ades on the first half, if I'm remembering it right, and the Bernstein was later released on EMI. There's a conga in Wonderful Town, and the London Voices reprised it as an encore and snaked off the stage in a full-blown conga line. Rattle could not have looked happier. But even that performance is obliterated by the Bolivar orchestra.
Photo: Radio 3 Italy