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Entertainment & Arts

Gustavo Dudamel extends his L.A. Phil contract through 2025-26

Gustavo Dudamel has renewed his contract as music and artistic director of the L.A. Phil through the 2025-26 season.
Gustavo Dudamel has renewed his contract as music and artistic director of the L.A. Philharmonic through the 2025-26 season.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Bravo, Gustavo. That is the message from the board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which on Wednesday said it had extended the contract of music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel through the 2025-26 season.

At age 28, Dudamel started his appointment as the L.A. Phil’s music director in 2009, his original five-year term quickly extended through the 2018-19 season and later through mid-2022. With that last extension, he gained the additional title of artistic director.

During the decade that Dudamel has been at the conductor’s podium, the L.A. Phil has grown into one of the world’s most important orchestras. Dudamel — who earned an annual salary of about $3 million in 2016, according to the most recent public tax filing —
has pushed a bold vision and eclectic programming to expand the boundaries of what a modern orchestra can be, culminating in a historic centennial season of unprecedented ambition. Partly through programming such as the Green Umbrella series, the annual Noon to Midnight marathon at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Reykjavik Festival, the L.A. Phil also has brought younger fans into the fold.

Dudamel has made music education a cornerstone of his artistic philosophy, and his Youth Orchestra Los Angeles has grown to serve more than 1,200 budding musicians across four YOLA locations, with a new Frank Gehry-designed concert hall planned in Inglewood.

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Citing a busy schedule of concerts in New York, Dudamel would not comment about the contract extension but did release a statement. “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,” he said. “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.”

That leadership team includes longtime L.A. Phil colleague Chad Smith, recently elevated into the position of chief executive.

“Fifteen years ago, Gustavo and I planned our first concert together here — for his U.S. debut at the Hollywood Bowl,” Smith said in the announcement. “And what an extraordinary journey together it has been.”

Conductor Zubin Mehta ends two impressive weeks with the L.A. Phil with excerpts from Wagner’s “Ring,” but it’s the tricky Webern that proves Mehta’s power.

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