Among the people most enthusiastic about Monday night's concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the Norton Center for the Arts in Danville are some of Central Kentucky's prominent conductors.
"Not only will we get to experience a great orchestra but also the chance to witness Gustavo Dudamel, who is the most passionate and charismatic conductor on the scene today," the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra's music director, Scott Terrell, wrote in response to a question about the concert. "His advocacy for music education is truly inspirational, and his ability to communicate his passion is awe-inspiring. His conducting is 'the music,' and it will be exciting for those in attendance to witness his musicianship in person."
Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras music director Kayoko Dan's admiration for the orchestra comes from personal experience.
"I had an incredible experience being the Karajan Conducting Fellow with the Vienna Philharmonic in the summer of 2007," Dan wrote. "I spent six weeks watching them rehearse and perform various works. Not only are they a fine orchestra, one of the best in the world, but their sense of tradition, style and the history is the strong foundation of their music making.
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"These things, you can't imitate. The music flows in their blood, and some of the members have been in the organization for generations."
Indeed, part of what makes the 172-year-old orchestra legendary is its longevity, having given world premiere performances of works by such long-ago composers as Johannes Brahms. It's 20th- century policy of not employing a regular music director also has sent a who's-who of conductors across its podium, including Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm and Leonard Bernstein, conductors most associated with the orchestra, largely through the many albums they recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic on the Deutsche Grammophon label.
The prestige also has made the orchestra hard to get.
The Vienna Philharmonic rarely tours the United States. It usually just stops in New York for a week of concerts at Carnegie Hall, where the orchestra will head after playing Danville.
But the lure of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and the international crowd it has attracted to Central Kentucky persuaded the orchestra to add the small-town date, said the Norton Center's director of programs and public relations, Debra Hoskins, who secured the booking.
For the Vienna Phil, the Norton Center is pulling out all the stops, taking the musicians on tours of the area, including local horse farms and the Games; bringing in Lexington chef Jonathan Lundy to cook for them; and making the concert and a preceding dinner a black-tie affair.
"Because they are making a huge concession, ... we're trying to roll out the red carpet," says Norton Center director Steven A. Hoffman, who came to the center in July. "We want them to go away saying, 'Yeah, we've been to New York and other major markets, but Kentucky — what an amazing state.'"
Everyone is fairly certain concertgoers will depart saying, "What an amazing orchestra and conductor" in Dudamel, one of the hottest stars in classical music. He first gained attention as the director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, a youth orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela, and is now entering his second year as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
"I have not yet had an opportunity to meet Maestro Dudamel," says Dan, who will have to miss the concert because she is preparing her own youth orchestra for a concert in the WEG-related Spotlight Lexington festival on Oct. 3.
She does plan to attend a rehearsal at the invitation of her Vienna Philharmonic mentor, violinist Alexander Steinberger, and says, "I am very much looking forward to meeting him. I have watched many TV programs about him and his YouTube videos, and I think his energy is great, and you can sense his strong love of music in his conducting."
Terrell, who will conduct the Lexington Philharmonic in that same Oct. 3 concert at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza in Lexington, says the visit of the Vienna Philharmonic has helped spread a love of classical music in Central Kentucky.
"Having one of the world's greatest orchestras come to Kentucky has been an invaluable opportunity," Terrell wrote. "The excitement that the Vienna Philharmonic has generated has been great for classical music for the Bluegrass community. The attention and fervor their visit has garnered is good for this region's orchestral industry and has heightened awareness of the contemporary relevance of orchestral music as an art form."