“At a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon, President Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal to actor Morgan Freeman, composer Philip Glass, ‘Zoot Suit’ playwright Luis Valdez, musician Wynton Marsalis and 20 others,” write Deborah Vankin and Mark Swed in Thursday’s (9/22) Los Angeles Times. “But Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel should have been given the National Medal of Spontaneity. The Venezuelan conductor had been summoned to Washington, D.C., to deliver the keynote speech to the recipients later that evening … and conduct a wind quintet from his Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. But first: Dudamel sat in on the afternoon awards ceremony and luncheon at the White House, where he met the president and witnessed a performance by another set of musicians, the Marine Chamber Orchestra…. ‘During the luncheon Gustavo remarked that the Marine Chamber Orchestra was very good,’ [L.A. Philharmonic president Deborah] Borda said.… ‘So I asked the conductor whether she would like to have Gustavo Dudamel conduct.’ The two conductors rifled through their music and found Mozart Symphony No. 25.… ‘So Gustavo conducted the first movement,’ Borda said, ‘and suddenly the entire place fell quiet. It was a moment of magic.’ ”

Posted September 26, 2016

Pictured: Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Marine Chamber Orchestra at the White House on September 22. Photo by Deborah Borda