Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl

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We listened to Dudamel’s Bowl performance at home on KUSC. It was transcendent. We felt connected with everyone in Los Angeles. I am dying to find out how many listeners they had last night -- a stat this is now knowable because of Arbitron’s new People Meters. If KUSC’s weekly total in SoCal is 850,000 (as announced 8/31/2009), and only a few thousand could make it to the Bowl last night, could 250,000 or 500,000 have tuned in last night? More? It’s the Big Thing for their core audience.

My only complaint about the broadcast was that the announcers should have followed Ernie Harwell’s lead. When the Tigers won the pennant in 1968, and the crowd at Tiger Stadium went crazy, the Hall of Fame announcer simply said, “Just listen to the Bedlam,” and let us listen to the roar for many seconds before coming back in and talking. But when the final note of the complete Ninth arrived, and the Bowl erupted, the hosts jumped in right away and talked over the noise. Better to let it ride, so we could all share in the joy. That said, huge kudos to Dennis Bartel for asking Maestro Dudamel, “What kind of beer is that?” in the postgame interview. A wonderful moment.

After the announced program, Dudamel gave us “uno regalo,” a gift – an encore of the last part of the last movement, and the band and the singers went all out in the most joyous and exuberant Ninth I’ve ever heard. The Phil should take note: people love encores. It makes us feel valued. And even more, it adds an air of surprise to a concert, this idea that something unexpected could happen, that classical music is alive.

Can I add one more note for the grumpy people out there? Applauding between movements is GOOD when the music is good. It indicates enthusiasm from the audience. To say that it spoils the performance is nonsense. They applauded between movements in Beethoven and Mozart’s time. And today, audiences applaud arias in opera and well-executed ballet moves. So it already happens in the “classical” arena. Chill out. However, air horns are OUT.