It's so easy, so comforting, for us to consign 'classical' music to the deep stacks of the cultural library.
There it is, hidden under decades of dust, part of a legacy of a formal, mannered world that bears no important relationship to where we all now live.
And then someone like conductor Gustavo Dudamel comes along, and blows our careful stereotypes to smithereens. Dudamel's 33 now – he's no longer a wunderkind, but his explosive, committed, modern approach to the classics has made him one of the most talked-about figures in any cultural world.
He and the Los Angeles Philharmonic are in Toronto on Wednesday to present a concert of Tchaikovsky and the American composer John Corigliano at Roy Thomson Hall.
Dudamel also represents the best of an almost 40-year tradition of musical education in his native Venezuela, a program called La Sistema, that combines music, social engineering and discipline to produce significant musicians out of South American street kids.