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A Meditation on Gershwin, Dudamel, and The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco (Guadalajara...

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They made me cry tonight.


This evening I watched a concert. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra led by the brilliant young conductor Gustavo Dudamel, with guest pianist the great Herbie Hancock. The orchestra performed an all George Gershwin program of his An American in Paris, and Rhapsody in Blue. It took place at The Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.


The earliest music I can remember is Gershwin – either it was always on the radio, or my parents must have always had it on, as we called all record players at that time, the Victrola. As the strains of An American in Paris, played by this most marvelous orchestra, washed over me, I was immediately connected on a very visceral level to my childhood…to perhaps when I was in my crib. These melodies have always done this to me…they reside deep in my subconscious…they can bring tears to my eyes. I sat there listening, watching, tears rolling down my cheeks, and marveling that such beauty could actually come from such creatures as us. It was as if what was in front of me at that moment was all the possibility of human beings realized – the huge orchestra all together as one, in perfect harmony, making this joyful sound. I was completely overcome by it.


Now, minutes later, as I try to make sense of exactly why I was so moved, even more so than usual, I believe it was the clarity with which the beauty of this human moment stood in stark contrast to the reality of where we now find ourselves as a nation, and as a world. I had the thought that collectively as people we are okay, as separate factions we are not – John said it all in Imagine. I believe part of the reason for my tears was in experiencing – through this powerful musical ensemble playing this transformative music – the demonstrable gulf that lies between what humankind can achieve, and what, in reality, we are actually doing. The overpowering majesty of this man-made moment, this example of what is possible, this zenith of human potential, of humans unselfishly working together for a noble purpose, in this case to make this glorious music, is us at our very best.


That we cannot understand how great we are when we play together – that we cannot grasp the idea that, like a great symphony orchestra, when we work unselfishly as one for the common good of all, we are better for it, may be to our everlasting detriment. I hope not.


They made me cry tonight.


© tony powers and Barking in the Dark, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to tony powers and Barking in the Dark with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About barkinginthedark

Tony Powers is a writer/actor/musician. His full bio may be seen by clicking on the picture, and then clicking on either of the 2 boxes below it.


25 thoughts on “A Meditation on Gershwin, Dudamel, and The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

  1. Tony, you are the music so you feel the music. Gershwin was playing in my home as a child as well.
    Do you remember the first time you were able to play Rhapsody in Blue with no mistakes? A brilliant moment in time for a pianist.
    It has been many years since I’ve been to see the LA Philharmonic. The last time was when Zubin Metha was still conducting,

    A painting has never brought me to tears. A piece of music? Oh yes.
    This was a touching piece to ring in the new year. All the best to you and yours my dear.


    Posted by Rachael Black | December 31, 2013, 10:54 pm
  2. Turning on the music now…Happy new Year Tony, Liz


    Posted by An Embarrassment of Freedom | December 31, 2013, 9:43 am
  3. This is the first non-comic piece I’ve seen. Bravo on your essay above.
    Fortunately, almost all peoples have access to the same moving music you describe. Hopefully, with a little luck, it will stir enough people with feelings like yours (or mine to great music) to change the world.


    Posted by El Guapo | January 9, 2012, 3:28 am
    • E G…lot’s of other non-comic posts…you would really like “matter of life and death” right up your alley, also “election day 2020 A true story” parts 1 and 2 (apocalyptic cautionary tale – more parts to come), “are we a virus” – an essay on the genus homo sapiens , “instant run-off voting is an answer”, “the real housewives of the republican party” -about ronald reagan, “so how about we all become indignant”, “space: the final effrontery”, and “siezing the moment – the obama condition”. you might enjoy some of theses too. i know you will like “matter of life and death” and “election day 2020” both parts. anyway, thanks for the reading, and the terrific comments. i did check the box. continue…


      Posted by barkinginthedark | January 9, 2012, 5:09 am
  4. Your closing thoughts are exactly why I am such a fan of Dudamel – he understands music has more of a value than simply playing an instrument; he knows how it can touch souls and its so apparent in his passion and work. Thanks for sharing this with us…


    Posted by MJ, Nonstepmom | January 8, 2012, 12:29 am
    • thank you Janet, yes – Dudamel himself is an instrument of great positivity for the world, and especially for children. His native Venezuela has a music program for children beginning at age 4 called El Systema -google it- at 4 they begin with the rudiments of rhythm which gradually, as they get older, leads to them learning to play an instrument. i think Dudamel began in this program…and i believe it has been adopted here in, i think, 6 states so far. i always appreciate your comments. continue…


      Posted by barkinginthedark | January 8, 2012, 12:57 am
  5. Oh Tony, I ache every time someone doesn’t ‘get’ this. It would be the mark of a truly cold heart (or mental impairment) if someone stared blankly at these words without comprehending and feeling the importance of what you’ve said. I saw some of myself in your words. Art has affected me that way more times than I could count.


    Posted by Sparks In Shadow | January 7, 2012, 11:13 pm
  6. I really love the music of PHILHARMONIC Orchestra thanks for posting 🙂


    Posted by jakesprinter | January 7, 2012, 10:18 pm
  7. “marveling that such beauty could actually come from such creatures as us” – too well said, Tony. They who can create it though, oh what a gift.

    And then your thoughts that collectively we are okay but individually not so. Doesn’t it seem just too ideal, almost, that we could all have the one goal, aim: for good.

    What a sensitive, thoughtful piece, Tony.


    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | January 7, 2012, 9:50 pm
    • alas Noeleen, i am an idealist…i believe all things are possible…when i write a very negative piece – as i often moved to do – it’s because i believe that where we have come to at present, like film, requires a negative to make a positive. thank you for the kind comment. continue…


      Posted by barkinginthedark | January 7, 2012, 10:13 pm
    • thank you Liz, i trust you are well…and writing. i appreciate all hugs. continue…


      Posted by barkinginthedark | January 7, 2012, 10:29 pm
    • Hey I am so excited I found your webapge, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Askjeeve for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I done28099t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome work.


      Posted by Daniel | July 17, 2013, 5:22 am
  8. I am moved by your words and the ideas behind them. I’m on my feet applauding you for this. As we watch our society slide further into a funk, the stark differences are painful to see. Nevertheless, I’m glad you got to enjoy the concert and to feel the music and experience the joyfulness of it all and that you shared it with us.


    Posted by Lisa Golden | January 7, 2012, 4:52 pm
  9. Well written and an excellent point, Tony. There are moments and experiences of great beauty on this planet of ours and all that seems to be the focus of major media outlets is “Who is going to be the next one to f&6k it up.” Music and theatre move me to tears too and I let them. It gives me hope. I am inspired by creative collaborations, either orchestras, pop groups who strive for their own voice or music, artist collectives. I applaud it all – for if we don’t have this then we are empty souls indeed. Stay moved. It’s worth the embarrassment.


    Posted by Single Malt Monkey | January 7, 2012, 2:42 pm
    • i’m sure neither of us is ever embarrassed by such beauty, such elevated human-ness. thank you for this wise comment Al, as a musician yourself, and a creator of beauty – and the means of beauty, being a luthier, i know you feel as i do. anyone who isn’t embarrassed by beauty is, as you say, an empty vessel indeed. thank you so much for your contribution to making this world a more musical place, and therefor a better place, and for this comment. i appreciate it. continue…


      Posted by barkinginthedark | January 7, 2012, 10:27 pm
  10. Beautiful and so true. At the risk of sounding pretentious and “elitist”, this is exactly why it is so sad that art itself is given such short shrift in our culture and our popular culture seems to be so dumbed down. Art has gotten such a bad rap from so many on the right, who want to defund the NEA. But to value this form of expression would help us bridge the divide between our culture and other cultures and fill the gaps in our souls that an afternoon of shopping in a mall cannot begin to. Art may not be the cure for cancer, but it feeds the soul at those times when it seems as if the cure is just beyond our reach.


    Posted by Carole Monferdini | January 7, 2012, 2:10 pm
  11. “…That we cannot understand how great we are when we play together – that we cannot grasp the idea that, like a great symphony orchestra, when we work unselfishly as one for the common good of all, we are better for it, may be to our everlasting detriment. I hope not…”

    Tony, so beautifully written. Those tunes often pop up on the Pandora I listen to at work, and I am transported back to childhood as you were. I don’t actually remember listening to them, though, I must have.


    Posted by k8edid | January 7, 2012, 1:12 pm

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