At his first press conference as music director in 2009, Gustavo Dudamel told the assembled reporters that what had attracted him to the Los Angeles Philharmonic was its deep commitment to a “tradition of the new.” The spirit of creativity and possibility to which Dudamel was referring that day was the same one that had compelled me to move to Los Angeles almost a decade earlier, to help envision and realize an American orchestra for the 21st century. The National Endowment for the Arts has been with us for every step of this journey, supporting the LA Phil’s most visionary work—the festivals, multidisciplinary projects, and education programs that best embody our tradition of innovation.
Over the past decade, the NEA has made our most risk-taking and influential work possible, including the critically acclaimed Tristan Project, which welcomed video artist Bill Viola to Walt Disney Concert Hall in collaboration with the orchestra; our recent Next on Grand celebration of contemporary American artists, which brought seven commissioned works to life; and two iterations of our Minimalist Jukebox festival, which took stock of this uniquely American musical movement. The NEA also made it possible for the LA Phil to bring the work of one of the country’s greatest artistic voices, John Adams, to the stage through its support of El Niño and The Gospel According to the Other Mary.
Arguably the most important contribution the NEA has made to the life of the LA Phil in the past few years has been in its endorsement of Dudamel’s vision of the orchestra as a community resource that reflects the diversity and vitality of our Los Angeles community. The NEA has shown its support for the LA Phil as an institution that understands the interdependence of its artistic and social imperatives by helping us realize many of Dudamel’s signature initiatives, including the Americas and Americans festival, the historic Mahler Project, and the El Sistema-inspired Youth Orchestra LA program.
Every advance the LA Phil has made as a performing ensemble, presenter, educator, and civic institution serving Southern California audiences has been built on a foundation of support provided in part by the NEA. Its leadership and advocacy on behalf of the cultural life of all Americans will continue to be instrumental to our success.