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  • LAPA
  • Apr. 9, 2007
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Appoints Gustavo Dudamel as New Music Director Beginning 2009/10 Season

    Esa-Pekka Salonen announces tomorrow that he will end his tenure as the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Director at the conclusion of the 2008/09 season, at which time he will have been Music Director for 17 seasons. As has been his long-time declared wish, his decision will enable him to dedicate himself more fully to composing.

    Simultaneously, the Board of Directors, President Deborah Borda, and Esa-Pekka Salonen announce the new Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic will be 26 year-old, Venezuelan conductor GUSTAVO DUDAMEL. His five-year contract will start with the 2009/10 season (actual start date is September 21, 2009), and he will be Music Director Designate during the 2008/09 season. In his first season as Music Director (2009/10), he will conduct 10 weeks, plus summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl; and in years two through five, he will increase to 14 weeks, plus Hollywood Bowl concerts and touring.

    Dudamel is the Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, and Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden. His symphonic guest engagements take him to the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonia, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, among others, with operatic engagements at La Scala and Berlin Staastsoper. His celebrated United States debut was with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005, and he returned to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall in January 2007. Dudamel next appears in Los Angeles on November 1 and 2, 2007, with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and returns to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic from March 28 through April 6, 2008. Gustavo Dudamel is an exclusive recording artist with DGG.

    Of the appointment Dudamel said, "Almost two years ago, I made my United States debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and from the first moment I stepped onto the stage, I felt a special connection and deep feeling from the players. They are wonderful. I am very honored to be chosen to succeed the great conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, who has been so warm to me and has given me so much support. Family is very important to me. Now my musical family includes Los Angeles, along with Venezuela and Gothenburg, and these three will be my musical homes and the focus of my musical activity. Playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall is a great privilege and I look forward to many happy years together."

    Esa-Pekka Salonen stated, "Almost two decades ago, the Los Angeles Philharmonic took a chance on a young fellow from Finland who was at the beginning of his conducting career. Over the ensuing years we have all grown together. It is with love and pride that I regard all we have accomplished. As hard as this is, I know now that the right moment has come for me to step down as Music Director at the end of the 2008/09 season. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I wish to dedicate myself more fully to composing. I could not, indeed would not have made this decision unless I was confident that everything was in just the right place and balance. The LA PHIL is widely regarded as one of the leading symphony orchestras in the world. We have never been stronger. And now, the right successor has been found. Gustavo Dudamel's remarkable talent, intelligence and energy are the absolute right match for the orchestra and Los Angeles. While I intend to continue my relationship with the LA PHIL, I am peaceful and joyous about the artist to whom we will pass the baton. There could not be a more forward looking choice."

    Deborah Borda commented, "Esa-Pekka Salonen has built an orchestra of the 21st century - vital, of our time and in forward motion. His profound musical vision and legacy reaches far beyond Los Angeles. Continuing in our own inimitable style, we now look to the future. From the moment Gustavo Dudamel stepped on our podium there was an immediate and palpable connection and chemistry with the LA PHIL musicians. With our musicians and Esa-Pekka's support, the way forward became clear. I cannot imagine a person better suited than Gustavo Dudamel to carry on our important work: reaching out to new audiences, championing music of our time and dreaming of what can be. This is a match for our orchestra, for our city and for music making."

    Board Chairman Jerrold Eberhardt added, "Our board and musicians immediately sensed that something very special was happening when Gustavo Dudamel conducted in Los Angeles. This was echoed by the audience's overwhelming reaction at every concert. Our great team of Deborah Borda and Esa-Pekka Salonen has guided us through a seamless transition. We continue to celebrate Esa-Pekka's remarkable relationship with us, as we all joyously await the arrival of Gustavo Dudamel."

    Chairman of the orchestra's Artistic Liaison Committee, Christopher Hanulik, said, "We, as an orchestra, are fortunate to have the privilege of working with such a dynamic and exceptional leader as Esa-Pekka Salonen. As we move forward, we enthusiastically welcome Gustavo Dudamel. In working with him, two things struck the orchestra right away. First, he is obviously a very dynamic musical personality. The second thing is the depth of knowledge he conveyed, even at his relatively young age. When a conductor can stand up in front of this orchestra without having to articulate verbally, that's so exciting from our standpoint."

    Still in his mid-twenties, conductor GUSTAVO DUDAMEL is fast becoming a major force on the international conducting scene. Having triumphed in the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in May 2004, news of his extraordinary podium talent has spread worldwide. He is currently Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and, in the 2007-08 season, he becomes Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony (Sweden). From Caracas to Los Angeles to Milan, he is receiving the praises of orchestras and audiences alike.

    In the 2006-07 season, Gustavo Dudamel makes his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, among others. During this season, he is reengaged by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with which he made his North American debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Filharmonica della Scala, Bamberger Symphoniker, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and London's Philharmonia Orchestra. March of 2007 brings Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela to the Lucerne Festival Easter for three concerts.

    In 2007-08, Dudamel makes his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker and New York Philharmonic, among others. His reengagements that season are with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Filharmonia della Scala, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and London's Philharmonia Orchestra. Also, in November of 2007, Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra embark upon a four city North American tour, with performances in New York, as part of Carnegie Hall's Berlin in Lights festival, and in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.

    As Music Director since 1999 of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, he conducts some 60 performances per season. The youth orchestra system in Venezuela, widely praised for its social contributions to the Venezuelan and Latin American young people, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2005. It encompasses a music and social program for over 250,000 young Venezuelans who begin their musical instruction at three years of age. In 2006, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra toured Italy and Spain and opened a new concert venue, the "Centre for Social Action through Music," in Caracas, dedicated to the growing needs of well over 90 orchestras in the country.

    Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He studied violin at the Jacinto Lara Conservatory with José Luis Jiménez and later with José Francisco del Castillo at the Latin American Academy of Violin. In 1996, he began his conducting studies with Rodolfo Saglimbeni and during that same year was named Music Director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, along with assuming the Music Director position of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, he began conducting studies with José Antonio Abreu, the Orchestra's founder. Dudamel regularly collaborates with Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado and Daniel Barenboim.

    Gustavo Dudamel is an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist and his debut recording of Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra was released worldwide in September 2006. His next recording will be of Mahler Symphony No. 5, to be released in 2007.

    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, the 10th conductor to head the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is now in his 15th season as Music Director. His current tenure is the second-longest in the Philharmonic's history. Salonen, who was born in Helsinki in 1958, studied at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. In 1979, he made his conducting debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and his American debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1984. He was recently appointed Principal Conductor of London's Philharmonia. In addition, Salonen has won acclaim for his work as a composer.

    Among the many highlights of Salonen's career with the Los Angeles Philharmonic have been world premieres of works by composers John Adams, Franco Donatoni, Anders Hillborg, William Kraft, Magnus Lindberg, Witold Lutoslawski, Bernard Rands, Kaija Saariaho, Rodion Shchedrin, Steven Stucky, Tan Dun, and Augusta Read Thomas, as well as his own works. He has led critically acclaimed festivals of music by Ligeti, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Berlioz, and Beethoven, and the Tristan Project. He and the Philharmonic have toured extensively since 1992. In October of 2003, Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic opened Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry.

    In March 2003, Salonen signed an exclusive four-year recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. The following year, DG released a disc devoted to his recent orchestral works, featuring Foreign Bodies, Insomnia, and Wing on Wing. In January 2006, Salonen and the Philharmonic recorded their first CD together for DG, the first live recording from Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Salonen and the Philharmonic also have four live concert recordings available for download on iTunes from DG Concerts.) Before signing with DG, Salonen recorded regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Sony Classical.

    Salonen is the recipient of several major awards including the Siena Prize from the Accademia Chigiana in 1993, the first conductor ever to receive the prize; the Royal Philharmonic Society's Opera Award in 1995; and their Conductor Award in 1997. In 1998, he was awarded the rank of Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. Musical America named him 2006 Musician of the Year.

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