How Do You Get To 'Sesame Street'? Practice, Practice, Practice

The "stupendous" pairing of Elmo and Gustavo Dudamel on 'Sesame Street' this week. i i

The "stupendous" pairing of Elmo and Gustavo Dudamel on 'Sesame Street' this week. Courtesy of Sesame Street hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Sesame Street
The "stupendous" pairing of Elmo and Gustavo Dudamel on 'Sesame Street' this week.

The "stupendous" pairing of Elmo and Gustavo Dudamel on 'Sesame Street' this week.

Courtesy of Sesame Street

Appearing on Sesame Street is a rite of passage for many celebrities. Speaking as a parent of a young child myself — and as someone who was part of the first generation to grow up on Big Bird, the Count, Oscar the Grouch and the rest of the pre-Elmo gang — I still enjoy seeing who shows up, from the band OK Go outfitted in totally and charmingly awkward primary colors to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor attempting, only semi-successfully, to enjoy a quiet cafecito with Maria near Mr. Hooper's store.

This past week, the red-hot conductor Gustavo Dudamel joined Elmo to explain the word "stupendous," and it brought me right back to years of seeing classical musicians making very sweet guest turns on the show, like when Seiji Ozawa accompanied "Placido Flamingo" and Philip Glass contributed music for animation. I've pulled up a few of my favorite clips from over the years.

Sesame Street

Cover for Fiesta

"Stupendous": Gustavo Dudamel

  • Artist: Gustavo Dudamel
  • Album: Fiesta
  • Song:

"The Dude" discusses how he gets to hear amazing — stupendous, even — music every day.

Sesame Street/YouTube
Cover for Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky: Violin Concertos

"Easy And Hard": Itzhak Perlman

  • Artist: Itzhak Perlman
  • Album: Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky: Violin Concertos
  • Song:

The violinist matter-of-factly — and completely movingly — contrasts two activities with a young child: playing his instrument and walking.

Sesame Street/YouTube
Cover for Complete Decca Recitals

"'C' Is For Cookie": Marilyn Horne

  • Artist: Marilyn Horne
  • Album: Complete Decca Recitals
  • Song:

In a setting reminiscent of a staging of Aida, the irrepressible mezzo plunges into a Verdi-style rendition of Cookie Monster's anthem.

Sesame Street/YouTube
Cover for Goat Rodeo Sessions

"The Jam Session": Yo-Yo Ma

  • Artist: Yo-Yo Ma
  • Album: Goat Rodeo Sessions
  • Song:

Long before the Silk Road Ensemble or The Goat Rodeo Sessions, there was Yo-Yo Ma's call-and-response segment with a sax-playing Hoot the Owl.

Sesame Street/YouTube
Cover for Her Greatest Hits

"The Grouch-keteers": Evelyn Glennie

  • Artist: Evelyn Glennie
  • Album: Her Greatest Hits
  • Song:

The drummer encounters a very rude Oscar and a rather hysterically, histrionically enthusiastic Telly.

YouTube/YouTube