Gustavo Dudamel has tried to stay out of politics. Now, he’s demanding action in Venezuela

Under normal conditions, the news about Gustavo Dudamel this weekend would focus on his return to Walt Disney Concert Hall after a three-month absence to begin a rare cycle of Schubert symphonies.

But these are not normal conditions.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic music director, who is one of the world’s most famous musicians and among its best-known Venezuelans, publicly called on Venezuela’s president to “listen to the people” and end the protest violence that has resulted in more than 29 deaths.

After months of being pressed to use his superstar status to speak out on the subject, Dudamel has decided get political.

“That kind of confrontation, or interaction or dialogue,” he continues, “will create something important.” People’s attitude, he explains, should be: “I don’t want to change the way you think. But I want you to listen to me and to understand that I have my own visions. And let’s do something with that.”

In the end, Dudamel continues to put his faith where he always has: in music, in hope and in youth. Monday it was announced that he will bring this new National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela to the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 17 as part of the citywide Pacific Standard Time festival.

“Maybe I’m naive, but I’m clear in what I believe,” he says, insisting he has seen it work over and over again.

He points to a day last week in Caracas. The streets were a war zone, but 1,000 young people showed up for the first day of auditions for a new orchestra El Sistema is creating for teenagers.

“When I see these 1,000 children auditioning for something that will give them hope, that is a symbol,” he says. “We have to keep playing, with the goal to unite. I want to unite my country.”

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