Cue the “Bravo Gustavo” ovations!
The NY Philharmonic today announced that “conductor Gustavo Dudamel will become the orchestra’s next Music Director, beginning in the 2026–27 season, succeeding Jaap van Zweden. Dudamel will hold the title of Music and Artistic Director of the New York Philharmonic for a five-year term, after serving as Music Director Designate during the 2025–26 season. The NY Phil’s “Leadership Succession Plan,” announced on June 17, also revealed that Gary Ginstling would “serve as Executive Director from Nov. 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023, at which time he will succeed Deborah Borda as the Philharmonic’s president and CEO.” Her future plans (retirement, as a septuagenarian like me?) are unannounced at this writing.
One can only assume that Borda, who had been president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic during Dudamel’s tenure there, had a lot to do with this latest turn of events. She had previously served a decade as executive director of the NY Philharmonic: Moving to New York was, for her, a homecoming.
The NY Philharmonic triumphantly features the big news on its home page…
In a bizarre slight to all the music directors who have led the orchestra since Bernstein left that position in 1969 (while remaining as “Laureate Conductor”), the NY Philharmonic prematurely boasted that Dudamel “will become part of a legacy that includes Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein.” (Are Pierre Boulez, Kurt Masur and Lorin Maazel chopped liver?)
Even more surprising is the NY Times‘ adoption of that same jump-the-gun hyperbole in Javier Hernández‘s report on the bombshell announcement: The photo caption for Hernández’s Gustavo Dudamel, Star Maestro, to Leave L.A. for New York Philharmonic describes Gustavo’s new gig as “a post held in the past by titans including Mahler, Toscanini and Bernstein” (echoing the NY Phil’s characterization). Comparisons to such “titans” will need to be earned.
I had several times witnessed (and startled at) the super-charged Bernstein’s thumping leaps on the podium, beginning when I was a NYC high schooler. I’ve only once seen Dudamel conduct in person, despite the fact that (according to this Associated Press report) he “made his New York Philharmonic debut in November 2007, has conducted the orchestra 26 times and is scheduled to lead three performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony from May 19 to 21.”
Wait a minute! Below is my subscription ticket for May 21. (He’d better not have Covid: I’ll be sitting within spitting distance—3rd row center!)
I’ll have more to say about this development in a future post. For now, below is my video (from the Geffen Hall press preview) of Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator, describing the significance of the reopening of the NY Phil’s home at Lincoln Center–thoroughly redesigned and acoustically enhanced.
This being outdoors in the Big City, Schumer’s oration is accompanied by the steady beat of an alarm that had been set off nearby:
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