*The fourth “Tavis Smiley Presents” special, premiering tonight on PBS, focuses on conductor Gustavo Dudamel and his passion for music education.
In “Gustavo Dudamel: Conducting a Life,” the Los Angeles Philharmonic music director discusses the importance of music in young lives, including his own childhood in Venezuela.
The special is intended to highlight the danger of sacrificing school music programs to budget cuts, Smiley told the Associated Press. It also details efforts to revive such programs.
The talk-show host said children exposed to music education enjoy personal and academic advantages.
The 29-year-old Dudamel is a prodigy who first picked up the baton at age 11 as part of Venezuela’s extensive classical music education program called El Sistema.
The subject of music in schools is even more vital for Dudamel because his wife, Eloisa Maturen, is pregnant with their first child, Smiley said.
“He talked off camera about he and his wife expecting. It’s all the more reason now to be anxious about kids and music,” Smiley said. “He sees music as a human right.”
“Gustavo Dudamel: Conducting a Life” airs 8 p.m. ET Wednesday on PBS stations (check local listings).