I’ll never forget my first encounter with Gustavo Dudamel. His inaugural performance with the LA Phil back in November 2009 was illuminating. It was transcendent. It was…well, kind of fake, really. You see, my first encounter with our city’s heroic Maestro did not happen within the Douglas-fir lined walls of the prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall. I was seated on a slab of cold concrete in the middle of the Music Center Plaza. You see, I attended not the concert itself, but a real-time telecast a few blocks away put on for all the unfortunate souls without a golden ticket. The setting didn’t exactly lend to the experience the focused attention reserved for classical concerts. Instead, my attention was split among myriad gesticulating, wild-haired clones splashed across the numerous oversized screens surrounding the plaza, which itself was filled with talkative classical newbies and a handful of the obligatory crying babies. Thus, the Jan. 15 concert of the LA Phil performing Mahler’s 9th was my first real encounter with The Dude. I’m not going to pretend I am an expert in the classical realm, but the musical experience was exquisite, and I can say in all certainty that the real-life experience is more fulfilling than watching on a screen. The nuances of the music, the tangible energy emanating from the musicians, and the uninhibited vibrancy of the conductor are a package worthy of the in-person experience. And although this season the LA Phil has followed in the footsteps of a growing number of orchestras in the country by transmitting live performances to audiences in movie theaters, if you have the chance, and the cash, opt for the real deal.