Dudamel tapped to lead New York Philharmonic

Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor who became a worldwide celebrity leading the young musicians of Venezuela’s Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, leading to the then-26-year-old’s appointment as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007, has been named music and artistic director of the New York Philharmonic.

The New York appointment is effective in the 2026-27 season, after Dudamel’s Los Angeles contract expires. (He will serve as the New York Philharmonic’s music director-designate in 2025-26.) He also is music director of Opéra national de Paris, contracted to lead the ensemble until 2027.

The son of musicians who took up the violin when he was 10 and began to study conducting at 14, Dudamel, now 42, has led the Venezuelan youth orchestra since 1999. He won the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in 2004, following a stint as Simon Rattle’s assistant when Rattle was chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Dudamel spent the 2007-08 season as principal conductor of Sweden’s Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and guest-conducted a number of major ensembles, including the Vienna Philharmonic and La Scala, the opera company in Milan, before his appointment in Los Angeles.

The New York Philharmonic’s president and CEO, Deborah Borda, who was the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s administrative chief when Dudamel came to LA, had actively courted the conductor to take over in New York since Jaap van Zweden, the philharmonic’s current music director, announced that he would leave after the 2023-24 season, The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernández reports.

Dudamel’s work in Los Angeles has extended from its classical concert venues to performances at popular events such as the 2016 Super Bowl and in films, notably “Star Wars: the Force Awakens” and Stephen Spielberg’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” He also built an LA analogue to El Sistema, the Venezuelan training and mentoring program for young musicians. (Dudamel is the program’s most prominent alumnus.)

The conductor said that in New York “he would champion new music and work to develop the orchestra’s sound,” Hernández writes. “There are no limits, especially in an orchestra with such a history,” Dudamel said. “I see an incredible infinite potential of building something unique for the world.”

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