Sunday, February 12, 2023

Speculation: LA Philharmonic's Next Music Director

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Photo by Lisa Hirsch
March, 2017

First, I've updated my previous post on Gustavo Dudamel and the NY Philharmonic with more links, mostly to the NY Times.

With his departure, there will be an opening at the LA Philharmonic, a great orchestra with a forward-looking administration, solid finances, and one of the best (and most architecturally marvelous) concert halls in the country. The names that are being bandied around are:
  • Susanna Mälkki, the orchestra's principal guest conductor until 2022.
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, who was an associate and assistant conductor of the LA Phil and has a good ongoing relationship with the orchestra.
  • David Robertson, whose affinity for new music would fit well with the orchestra's ongoing commitment to expanding the repertory.
I'll note that none of these three is an obvious candidate to slip easily into Dudamel's role as an educator working with youth. Also, as a native Spanish speaker, Dudamel could communicate very directly and naturally with Southern California's large Spanish-speaking population. If having a Spanish-speaking music director is a factor, these conductors might be under consideration: 
  • Lina Gonzalez-Granados, from Colombia.
  • Rafael Payare, Venezuelan like Dudamel.
  • Pablo Heras-Casado, who is Spanish.
If you're thinking about the age and experience levels of the first two, well, LA has a history of taking a chance on young conductors who don't have a 20- or 30-year track record. Zubin Mehta took the job at 26, Esa-Pekka Salonen was offered the job at 31, Dudamel became music director at 26.

UPDATE, February 12: See also: New Music at the NY Phil



Jerome Joseph Gentes said...

I came here via Joshua Kosman's article in the SF Chron.

Dudamel's arrival in LA was one of the most exciting things to happen in conducting in a while, and his tenure has been a true achievement. I, for one, am excited by what he could do in NYC, and excited for the opportunity this creates in LA. Classical orgs around SoCal have, it seems, figured out how to balance traditional and new work--Long Beach Opera, LA Opera, and SD Opera, plus the SD Symphony's exquisite Rady Shell infused great new energy. But of course, the people who comprise the orgs themselves deserve a lot of credit.

Tár aside, I'm ready for more gender diversity at the podium, and I hope the LA Phil considers that. I'm sure they will. But whatever they do, they don't have to look for the next Dudamel. They have to look to what Dudamel's tenure there now makes possible for next.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Welcome! Thank you for the comment; I appreciate your perspective on this. And I'm very curious about what's next.