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The Mahler Project
Gustav Mahler at age 25; Gustavo Dudamel conducting the L.A. Philharmonic

In the past three years, our classical music scene has sizzled with the star power of Gustavo Dudamel, the 31-year-old conductor who has seen his name spelled out in lights, rated a page one rave from The New York Times and been named Gramaphone's 2011 Artist of the Year.

Now Dudamel's facing his most audacious challenge yet, when he leads two orchestras in the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, the 19th-century Austrian conductor-composer--all in a breakneck three weeks.

The 19-performance series is Dudamel's tribute to the Nazi-banned Mahler on the 100th anniversary of his death, a sentimental gesture from the wunderkind who began his career conducting Mahler's First Symphony at the age of 16.

Now Dudamel's got the Mahler Project. In it, he leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic and visiting Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (plus extra choral soloists) in nine symphonies, including the vocal-heavy, transcendent Second and the haunting, poignant Ninth. Performances run January 13 through February 5 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, then travel to Venezuela.

These performances are sure to be talked about for years, similar to Leonard Bernstein's legendary early New York Philharmonic concerts--which cemented Mahler's popularity with audiences of today.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave.; 323-850-2000 or laphil.com

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