By Gretchen Berger
Right on the heels of the grand reopening of David Geffen Hall after its major renovations, the New York Philharmonic on Tuesday announced that the charismatic 42-year-old maestro Gustavo Dudamel — one of the world’s most sought-after conductors — will be leaving his post in 2026 at the L.A. Philharmonic after 17 years to join the NY Philharmonic as music and artistic director in the 2026-27 season. The NY Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, and Dudamel will become its 27th conductor, following such giants as Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini, and Leonard Bernstein.
The current music director, Jaap van Zweden, will hold the post until June 2024, after which will come a year of guest conductors and a leaderless period. Dudamel is no stranger to the NY Philharmonic having conducted 26 concerts as a guest conductor, making his debut in November 2007, and conducting again in 2009 and 2022.
Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is a native of Venezuela. He is also a violinist. As a conductor he was the music director and conductor of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, as well as the Paris Opera Orchestra, La Scala, Vienna Philharmonic, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, among others. A Grammy winner, he also has pop culture status conducting a John Williams’ score for a Star Wars film, joining the pop and jazz scene with Billie Eilish and Herbie Hancock, and even appearing in a Super Bowl half-time show.
The appointment of Dudamel is a real coup for the NY Philharmonic at a time when ticket sales have been sluggish, and with the double whammy of Covid. The star conductor “with his bouncy curls and fiery baton” (NYTimes) was lured here by Deborah Borda, the NY Philharmonic’s president and chief executive. In its announcement, Borda said: “This is a dream come true for our musicians, our audience, and certainly for me. The coming together of a great orchestra, a visionary music and artistic director, and our transformed hall promises the richest of futures.”
In Dudamel’s own words, “I gaze with joy and excitement at the world that lies before me in New York City. All of us are united in our belief that culture creates a better world, and in our dream that music is a fundamental right. I look forward to the work ahead.”
Hurrah. Looking forward.
Well done, Deborah Borda! Three cheers for you!!!