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But, as De Leon de Vega points out: “At a time when orchestras are dying off, is it too little, too late?”
Mathur says season-subscription renewals are slightly down but that single-event sales are way up. That could be related to the economy but may also be a reflection of younger patrons who are more inclined to pick and choose. The Philharmonic has been trying in recent years to attract the blue-jean crowd to Walt Disney Concert Hall through orchestral collaborations with the likes of Grizzly Bear and M83. (The orchestra has backed many other rock/pop acts at the Hollywood Bowl, but that’s not exactly a concert-hall experience.) While young, acculturated Latinos are also fans of those hip artists, they may be more frequently drawn to Disney Hall by artists and composers who look like them and share their background. For example, why not pair young singer-songwriters such as Andrea Echeverri and Juana Molina and veteran artists such as Caetano Veloso and Fito Paez with the orchestra in programs that mix classical and pop music?
“There are a lot of professional, accomplished Latinos who have had culture in their life and will be attracted to a young Latino conductor,” De Leon de Vega says. “He will definitely change the Philharmonic into a more open, more welcoming organization.”
The orchestra just has to avoid patronizing its potential Latino audience. But there are smart folks working there. Smart enough to recognize that there are a lot of sophisticated brown folks ’round these parts — and El Dude just could be their Pied Piper.
Oscar Garza is the former editor in chief ofTu Ciudad Los Angeles magazine.