Chris Lee/New York Philharmonic
When the New York Philharmonic‘s present music director, Jaap van Zweden, introduced he could be leaving his put up subsequent yr, president and CEO Deborah Borda had just one new maestro in thoughts: Gustavo Dudamel.
“There are such a lot of issues which can be exceptional about Gustavo Dudamel,” Borda tells NPR’s Leila Fadel. “However I feel primary is his capability to speak with each musicians and audiences and to precise pure pleasure in music. And that is one thing that we merely cannot fairly put into phrases. It is spontaneous combustion.”
The 42-year-old Venezuelan’s charismatic method has made him one of many world’s most sought-after conductors. He’ll formally lead the oldest symphony orchestra within the U.S. beginning with the 2026-27 season, for an preliminary five-year time period, starting as music director designate within the 2025-26 season. Dudamel follows within the footsteps of giants resembling Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein, all former New York Philharmonic music administrators.
“He was the one one on our record … This would be the Dudamel period,” says Borda, who in 2009 ushered Dudamel into his present job because the Los Angeles Philharmonic‘s music director when she led that group. That earlier nod — when he was simply 28 — helped Dudamel hone his craft, each on and off the rostrum.
He is a rarity amongst classical music personalities who doubles as a popular culture movie star. “He is an individual who crosses all traces,” Borda notes. “This is among the issues we noticed out in Los Angeles from the second he got here — his capability to adapt inside well-liked tradition.” The conductor has appeared in a Tremendous Bowl halftime present and made cameo appearances on Sesame Avenue and on the Amazon classical music dramedy Mozart within the Jungle.
Dario Acosta/New York Philharmonic
A part of the gamble is whether or not Dudamel will assist entice new, youthful and extra numerous audiences to the orchestra’s residence, David Geffen Corridor, which reopened final yr after a $550 million overhaul. He would be the first Hispanic chief of the Philharmonic in a metropolis the place Latinos rely for greater than 1 / 4 of the inhabitants.
“We all know he’ll take into consideration tips on how to combine a symphony orchestra into the material of a metropolis. How can we uncover the intersection between the inventive crucial and the social crucial? ” Borda says. “However extra importantly, he’s a profound musician. And ultimately, that is what we search for and that is what audiences search for.”
Borda recalled first assembly Dudamel in 2004, when he received the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competitors in Bamberg, Germany, main the namesake composer’s Fifth Symphony. He was simply 23 years outdated. “It was the best single Mahler 5 I had ever heard,” she says. “After I first noticed him conduct, it was merely the best expertise I might ever seen. It is a 100-year expertise. At age 14, he may conduct all of the Beethoven and Mahler symphonies from reminiscence as a result of he was music director of the Simón Bolívar Orchestra at age 12.”
Dudamel will get to place his Mahler credentials on show in New York quickly, as he visitor conducts the composer’s Ninth Symphony with the Philharmonic in Could.
Leila Fadel carried out the interview for the audio model of this story.
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