The Los Angeles Philharmonic greeted its new music director yesterday with waves, cheers, and bursts of brass and strings, and cameras tailed the new boss as he hugged his principal musicians. It wasn't a standard first day, but Gustavo Dudamel of Venezuela isn't a standard maestro—he's only 28 years old, and classical music fans are hoping his youth will bring a new generation into the field. Dudamel says he's unafraid of the pressure: "I'm doing what I love to do. This is part of my natural life."
Dudamel will make his official debut with the philharmonic with a free concert at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend, followed by a gala at the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall on Oct. 8. "What's most important is his humility," said a violinist who's been with the LA Phil since 1981—the year Dudamel was born. But the orchestra's president cautioned against too much hype: "He's only been elected music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, not president of the United States."