Appointments / Auditions & Appointments / Los Angeles Philharmonic / Music News & Info: Classical

My $0.02 on Gustavo Dudamel extending his LA Phil contract to 2025/26 season


It looks like “The Dude” is gonna be sticking around for a little while longer.  The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced earlier today that Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra’s Music & Artistic Director, will continue in that capacity through at least the 2025/26 season.  His current contract was to expire at the end of the 2021/22 season.  Details are in the press release below.

Generally speaking, I think that this is a good thing.  The orchestra has continued its upward trajectory under his leadership, and after an exciting start to his tenure followed by a few years of performances that were good but merely whelming (i.e. not underwhelming or overwhelming), this season has proven to be much better.  Fall 2019 performances of Copland, Gershwin, Adams, Chavez, Benzecry, and Norman were absolutely fantastic; Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony were less compelling, but competent.  He seems to be hitting his stride, with the musicians have been more consistent in their response; furthermore, whether or not he’s been on the podium, the orchestra still retains the warmth to its sound that he has developed.

Just as importantly, there isn’t exactly anyone else on the horizon poised to take over for him.

  • Susanna Mälkki has been a good Principal Guest Conductor but does not (yet) have my vote to be the next Music Director.  The orchestra plays well for her but her performances have been all over the place.  She’s undeniably brilliant in contemporary works, but her interpretations of more mainstream repertoire has been mixed: An Alpine Symphony from two years ago was fresh and vibrant, but her Mahler 5 later that same year was a micromanaged mess.
  • The guest conductor appearing regularly in the past few years who has been most widely praised by critics, audience members, and the musicians themselves:  Michael Tilson Thomas.  But would MTT have been willing to come back to LA, especially so soon after relinquishing the San Francisco Symphony podium after over two decades? Would he have been the right fit?
  • Beyond them, it’s unclear who the orchestra (i.e. CEO Chad Smith, the Board, and the musicians) would trust to take over and who would actually want the job.
  • After having two up-and-comers (Mr. Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen before him) grow into the role, perhaps it is time to have an eminence gris take over the job whenever Mr. Dudamel steps down.  Except there’s no one who fits that description that is available and who I’d want.

So huzzah to Mr. Dudamel and the LA Phil for continuing this positive relationship.  There’s a small chance that Los Angeles could have done better, but we certainly could be doing much, much worse.


Photo credit:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Association – Walt Disney Concert Hall Opening Night Gala; Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging


THE 2025/26 SEASON
Los Angeles, CA (January 15, 2020) – Thomas L. Beckmen, Board Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and Chad Smith, David C. Bohnett Chief Executive Officer Chair, today announced that Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel’s contract will be extended through the orchestra’s 2025/26 season.
Dudamel’s contract as Music Director began in the 2009/10 season. Its original five-year term was soon extended, in March 2011, to run through the 2018/19 season. In March 2015, the LA Phil recognized Dudamel’s continuing commitment to the Association by adding the title of Artistic Director to Music Director and extending his contract further, through the 2021/22 season.
Thomas L. Beckmen said, “We have completed a staggeringly successful Centennial year, so how better to celebrate than to confirm that Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil will continue to do great things together all the way into 2026. I join the Board, and I suspect all of Los Angeles, in saying, Bravo Gustavo!”
Dudamel said, “Looking back at the first decade in Los Angeles with my orchestra makes me indescribably happy. I am full of expectation and energy as we open the next chapter of our artistic partnership, and I thank the Board of Directors for its continued trust in my vision for the organization.
“I’m so proud of our legacy in education, especially the establishment and continued growth of YOLA. The shared passion of the entire community to nurture the next generation of music makers is both deeply moving and profoundly important. I also remain committed to connecting our rich civic heritage ever more closely to our programming, community work, and concert performances in our homes, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and now The Ford.
“We have a unique opportunity and responsibility in Los Angeles to unite the soul of the Americas, to build and to strengthen musical and educational bridges with our brothers and sisters here in L.A. and beyond. We have so much work still to do, but I look forward to embracing the challenges ahead and to sharing more beautiful moments together, hand in hand with my extraordinary orchestra and our leadership team.”
Chad Smith added, “Fifteen years ago, Gustavo and I planned our first concert together here –for his U.S. debut at the Hollywood Bowl — and what an extraordinary journey together it has been. His expansive vision of what an orchestra can be and what it can mean to its community is truly inspiring. I am so looking forward to partnering with him on all that we have ahead of us.”
Chairman of the Orchestra Committee David Allen Moore stated, “The relationship between the musicians and Gustavo isn’t just one of trust, confidence, and respect, but of joy. We’re thrilled to know we’ll continue to move forward with him and can’t wait to discover what we’ll achieve next.”
About Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel is driven by the belief that music has the power to transform lives, to inspire, and to change the world. Through his dynamic presence on the podium and his tireless advocacy for arts education, Dudamel has introduced classical music to new audiences around the world and has helped to provide access to the arts for countless people in underserved communities.
Dudamel’s 2019/20 season will see him enter his second decade as the Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where his bold programming and expansive vision led The New York Times to herald the LA Phil as “the most important orchestra in America — period.” Other highlights of the season include leading the Berlin Philharmonic in four concerts for the 2020 Olympics celebrations in Tokyo, conducting the New York Philharmonic for a two-week residency at Lincoln Center, touring a concert version of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio throughout Europe with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which will incorporate the famed Venezuelan “Manos Blancas” choir, and an Italian tour with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. He will also conduct Bernstein’s iconic score for Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of West Side Story.
A lifelong advocate for music education and social development through art, Dudamel himself was shaped by his childhood experience with El Sistema, the extraordinary program and philosophy initiated in 1975 by Maestro José Antonio Abreu. Inspired by El Sistema, in 2007 Dudamel, the LA Phil and its community partners founded YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), which now serves more than 1,200 musicians providing young people with free instruments, intensive music instruction, academic support, and leadership training. In 2020, YOLA will have its own permanent, purpose-built facility at Inglewood, designed by architect Frank Gehry.
About the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring array of live performances – orchestral, pop, rock, country, jazz, blues, latin, world music, opera, chamber, Baroque, organ and celebrity recitals, theatrical performances, explorations of film music, dance, comedy, groundbreaking multimedia productions, and an unmatched commitment to commissioning and performing music from the composers of today – at three of L.A.’s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall (, the Hollywood Bowl ( and The Ford. The LA Phil’s season at Walt Disney Concert Hall extends from September to June, and at the Hollywood Bowl and the Ford Theatre throughout the summer. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic, education, and community programs.

14 thoughts on “My $0.02 on Gustavo Dudamel extending his LA Phil contract to 2025/26 season

  1. This is one family that is very pleased to hear the news. Dudamel has really taken the LA Phil “up a notch” musically/creatively from the previous era. Even some Phil members have told us this directly. While not too excited about the programmed “minimalist” and some other contemporary music – His presence is a net gain I think. And even business-wise the Phil seems to be doing great now, and continuing an upward trajectory! Cheers!


  2. Simone Young takes over in Sydney in two years; Robertson is still listed as Chief Conductor but previously it had been announced that he was leaving at the end of 2019.

    I have no idea what’s going on with him. I basically like his conducting and programming.


  3. Most of LA Phil’s former music directors did not have “established relationship” with the orchestra who “have repeatedly been mentioned” as next principal conductors before getting the top job, but that did not prevent many of them from becoming very successful artistic leaders here. For just a couple of relatively recent outstanding examples: correct me if i am wrong, but i think that Zubin Mehta made just one appearance with LA Phil before becoming its MD and Carlo Maria Giulini had never even been to LA before assuming the post in 1978. Both of them contributed greatly to development of the orchestra into the world-class ensemble that it is now. It may be too early to speculate, but when the time comes, the search should be wide open to all possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

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