Gustavo Dudamel extends contract with L.A. Philharmonic through 2018-19 season

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The Dude will be sticking around Los Angeles for at least eight more years.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced Thursday that conductor Gustavo Dudamel has extended his contract as music director through the 2018-19 season. Dudamel, who is with the orchestra in Budapest as part of a multi-city European tour, joined the L.A. Philharmonic as music director at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, succeeding Esa-Pekka Salonen.


Dudamel is expected to make the announcement to the orchestra’s musicians after their second concert in Budapest on Thursday night.

Dudamel’s original contract as music director was for a five-year term and would have ended in 2014. The contract now extends through the orchestra’s centennial year.

[Updated: 3:36 pm.] Deborah Borda, the orchestra’s president, said by phone that board members ratified the decision earlier in the day via an international phone conference.

“When the moment is right, you just know,” said Borda from Budapest. “It’s in the chemistry that he has with the musicians and seeing the upward arc of the performances.”

Dudamel was not made available for interviews but in a statement, the 30-year-old conductor said that “the connection I feel to the musicians and leadership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and to the city of Los Angeles is special. It is our aspiration to build something new, something that takes us towards a brighter future for music, for education, for young people, for the community.”

There had been rumors in the last year that Dudamel was being courted by other organizations, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. Borda said that she had heard the rumors and that Dudamel ‘has made a decision that he wants to spend the next several years with us. So this is a wonderful opportunity to put all those rumors away.”

Borda said that Dudamel’s responsibilities as music director — including conducting, leading education programs and more — will remain the same for the foreseeable future. ‘We are thrilled with Gustavo’s decision to remain at the L.A. Phil through our centennial season,’ said David Bohnett, chairman of the L.A. Philharmonic Assn., in a statement.

He added that the orchestra’s board of directors will continue to make ‘significant investments’ in projects including music education, LA Phil LIVE broadcasts to cinemas and YOLA, the Youth Orchestra L.A.

Borda said in the statement that Dudamel’s ‘passion and joy have created a beautiful extended family. His embrace of the L.A. Phil’s ‘tradition of the new’ drives us powerfully as an institution of the 21st century which is integrated into the fabric of Los Angeles.’

In addition to leading the L.A. Philharmonic, Dudamel holds top artistic positions at the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela. The conductor received his training in Venezuela’s El Sistema music education program, which provides instruments and lessons to underprivileged youth.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic was established in 1919.


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-- David Ng

Photo (top): Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Photo (bottom): Dudamel backstage at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times