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Dudamel Conducts the “New World”

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Los Angeles Philharmonic / Los Angeles / Music

If a star is born tonight, it won’t be Antonín Dvořák, whose sweeping Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) deservedly shares the marquee with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s galvanic music director, Gustavo (“The Dude”) Dudamel. The 25-year-old violinist Randall Goosby, on the other hand, has a definite shot. Trained at The Juilliard School by such virtuosi as Itzhak Perlman, this striking son of a Black father and a Korean mother introduces himself to Tinseltown with the Violin Concerto No. 9 in G, op. 8, of the long-forgotten Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, hailed in his day as “the Black Mozart.” Born to a French landowner in Guadeloupe and his wife’s African slave, he was shipped off at an early age to France, where he was to shine at court as music master to Marie Antoinette. But with the Revolution, he switched allegiances, fighting for the Republic as a colonel in Europe’s first all-Black military regiment. A Paganini avant la lettre, Bologne dashed off his violin concerti—14 in all—as vehicles for his own virtuosity. “I think the Ninth will surprise people,” Goosby says. “It has an air of lightness, as there tends to be in music of that period. At the same time, it’s very athletic. I sense a chip on the shoulder in the music, as if Bologne felt the need to prove his worth to his white counterparts. When I play this piece, I try to imagine that I am Bologne, that I have something to say with this music, in a way that’s poised and controlled and also very confident.” —M.G.

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