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The Week Ahead

He has a gift for banter as well as baton

September 04, 2006|Lynne Heffley

Have baton, will travel. Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, a star in the classical music firmament, in demand by major orchestras around the world, returns to L.A. to conduct an old friend: the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which he served as associate conductor before decamping for Texas in 2000 to become music director of the Fort Worth Symphony.

The Peruvian-born maestro will conduct the L.A. Phil in two diverse programs at the Hollywood Bowl this week.

Tuesday's Latin sampler, with guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad, features Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto madrigal; Jimenez's Intermedio from "La Boda de Luis Alonzo"; Piazzolla's "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires"; Revueltas' "Sensemaya"; and Galindo's "Sones de mariachi."

Thursday's potpourri of contrasting works, with cellist Han-Na Chang, includes selections from Bizet's "Carmen"; Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1; Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"; and Ravel's "La Valse."

He's happy to be back, said Harth-Bedoya, speaking by cellphone from his Texas home turf. "The Phil is a wonderful orchestra." The programs at the Bowl, planned around soloists Chang and the Assads, "will create a nice dynamic" and, not so incidentally, will also reflect Harth-Bedoya's wide-ranging interests.

The 37-year-old conductor, who leads opera companies as well as symphony orchestras, isn't ready for a signature style. "Simply, even though I've been conducting nearly half of my life, I haven't gotten to even 10% of the great masterworks, so I'm still building my own sense of musical identity."

Known for his buoyant charm -- and screen-ready good looks -- Harth-Bedoya is likely to exercise one professional trademark at the Bowl, however: his penchant for chatting with audiences during concerts.

"To greet the audience always makes me feel good because I don't get to see a lot of them," he said, "and they get to see a lot of my back. So those few moments of a human touch -- more from them to me than me to them -- help me appreciate my profession a lot more."

Still, this dedicated artist may have more than work on his mind this week. The birth of his third child is only days away. Is he nervous about being away from home?

"Well, if something were to happen early, I'm much closer this time," he said. "For the second one, I was in London."

As for his plans once his commitment to the Fort Worth Symphony ends in 2008, Harth-Bedoya defers comment.

"I'm just concentrating on the next child and school starting and everything. It's a lot of fun not thinking about music and contracts."

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-- Lynne Heffley

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