Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt and Lilly Disney Chair
Gustavo Dudamel is driven by the belief that music has the power to transform lives, to inspire, and to change the world. Through his dynamic presence on the podium and his tireless advocacy for arts education, Dudamel has introduced classical music to new audiences around the globe and has helped to provide access to the arts for countless people in underserved communities. As the Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, now in his thirteenth season, Dudamel's bold programming and expansive vision led The New York Times to herald the LA Phil as "the most important orchestra in America - period."
In the 2022/23 season, Dudamel and the LA Phil celebrate the 90th birthday of legendary film composer John Williams with a Gala event and expand their visionary Pan-American Music Initiative, a multi-year undertaking that celebrates the explosive creativity of the Americas. Further highlights with the LA Phil include a ten-day exploration of the piano concertos of Rachmaninov and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with pianist Yuja Wang, and a concert-hall presentation of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. In spring 2023, Dudamel makes return appearances to lead programs with the Berliner Philharmoniker and New York Philharmonic.
Highlights of the 100th anniversary season of the Hollywood Bowl in 2022 include Dudamel leading the LA Phil in a collaborative program featuring Paris Opera Ballet, an evening celebrating the legacy of Leonard Bernstein and his connection to the Bowl, the world premiere of Venezuelan composer Gonzalo Grau's Cuatro Concerto, and semi-staged performances of Act Ill of Wagner's Die Waiki.ire and Orff's Carmina Burana. The Dudamel Foundation will bring its "Encuentros" initiative to the Hollywood Bowl as part of the 100th Anniversary season, in a two-week intensive global leadership and orchestral training program, culminating in a concert at the iconic Los Angeles venue.
Following his inaugural season as Music Director of the Paris Opera, the 2022/23 season features Dudamel leading productions of Puccini's Tosca, Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, a new production of John Adams' Nixon in China directed by Valentina Carrasco, and Thomas Ades' Dante project, which is choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Duda meI has led over 30 staged, semi-staged, and concert productions across the world's major stages, including five staged productions with Teatro alla Scala, productions at the Berlin and Vienna State Operas, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and 13 operas in Los Angeles, with repertoire ranging from Casi fan tutte to Carmen, from Otello to Tannhauser, from West Side Story to contemporary operas by composers like John Adams and Oliver Knussen.
Following his U.S. debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005, Dudamel became the orchestra's music director starting in the 2009/10 season, and under his direction the LA Phil has secured its place as one of the leading orchestras in the world. Inspired by El Sistema, Dudamel, the LA Phil and its community partners founded YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) in 2007, providing 1,500 young people with free instruments, intensive music instruction, academic support and leadership training. In October 2021, YOLA opened its own permanent, purpose-built facility: The Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center at Inglewood, designed by architect Frank Gehry.
Over the course of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Dudamel has committed even more time and energy to his mission of bringing music to people across the globe, firm in his conviction that the arts play an essential role in creating a more just, peaceful and integrated society. A landmark event was the highly anticipated launch of Symphony, a state-of-the-art immersive VR film experience designed as both a permanent exhibition in Barcelona and a touring exhibition in two mobile pop-up cinemas that will travel to hundreds of towns across Spain and Portugal in order to allow tens of thousands of people to have access to the power of symphonic music. The LA Phil also released its groundbreaking Sound/Stage digital media initiative, featuring artists like Billie Eilish, Father John Misty, Gabriela Ortiz, John Williams, Jessie Montgomery, and more.
Dudamel's advocacy for the power of music to unite, heal and inspire is global in scope. Formed by his transformative experience as a youth in Venezuela's immersive musical training program El Sistema, he created the Dudamel Foundation in 2012 with the goal "to expand access to music and the arts for young people by providing tools and opportunities to shape their creative futures." In 2017, he formed the "Orchestra of the Future," made up of young people representing five continents and over a dozen countries, around the Nobel Prize Concert in Sweden, where he also delivered a lecture on the unity of the arts and sciences. His 2018 "Americas" tour with the Vienna Philharmonic marked his first Encuentros program in Mexico City, which celebrated the symbolic union of a "United Americas," a bridge he further strengthened with an LA Phil residency there in 2019. In 2021, his Foundation presented its first European Encuentros in Spain as a way to explore cultural unity and celebrate harmony, equality, dignity, beauty and respect through music.
One of the few classical musicians to become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, Dudamel conducted the score to Steven Spielberg's new adaptation of Bernstein's West Side Story and will star as the subject of a documentary on his life, to be released by Participant Media. He voiced the character of Trollzart in the DreamWorks animated feature Trolls World Tour and appeared in Amazon Studio's award-winning comedy series Mozart in the Jungle, Sesame Street, The Simpsons, and Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, for which he also recorded the score. At John Williams' personal request, he guest conducted the opening and closing credits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and performed with the LA Phil at the 2019 Academy Awards®. In summer 2021, Dudamel performed with pop icon Christina Aguilera at the Hollywood Bowl in her first-ever full performance with orchestra and also led the LA Phil alongside international superstar Billie Eilish and FINNEAS as part of the concert film experience Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles, which premiered in September 2021 on Disney+. It was a first for a classical musician when Dudamel, together with members of YOLA, participated in the 2016 Super Bowl half-time show alongside pop stars Coldplay, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars. In 2019, Dudamel was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, joining Hollywood greats as well as such musical luminaries as Bernstein, Ellington and Toscanini.
His extensive, multiple-Grammy Award®-winning discography includes 65 releases, including recent Deutsche Grammophon LA Phil recordings of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, the complete Charles Ives symphonies and Andrew Norman's Sustain (both the Ives and Norman won the Grammy Award® for Best Orchestral Performance). Sony Classical released audio and video recordings of the Sommernachtskonzert 2019 with the Vienna Philharmonic, following their 2017 New Year's concert recording, where he was the youngest conductor in history to lead the famous annual performance. He has made several acclaimed recordings with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, including the soundtrack to the feature film Libertador - about the life of Simon Bolivar - for which Dudamel composed the score, and digital releases of all nine Beethoven symphonies.
Gustavo Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. His father was a trombonist and his mother a voice teacher, and he grew up listening to music and conducting his toys to old recordings. He began violin lessons as a child but from an early age was drawn to conducting, and at the age of 13, as a member of his youth orchestra, he put down his violin and picked up the baton when the conductor was running late. A natural, he began studying conducting with Rodolfo Saglimbeni. In 1996, he was named Music Director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, where his talent was spotted by Jose Antonio Abreu, who would become his mentor. In 1999, at the age of 18, he was appointed Music Director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, composed of graduates of the El Sistema program. Dudamel gained international attention when he won the inaugural Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Competition in 2004. Dudamel went on to become the music director of the Gothenburg Symphony (2007-2012), where he now holds the title of Honorary Conductor. Dudamel's talent was widely recognized, notably by other prominent conductors of the day, but it was the Los Angeles Philharmonic who took the initiative to sign the 27-year-old Dudamel as music director in 2009.
Since then, Dudamel has become one of the most decorated conductors of his generation. Among his many honors, he has received Spain's 2020 Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, the 2019 Konex Foundation Classical Music Award, Distinguished Artist Award from the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), the Gish Prize, the Paez Medal of Art, the Pablo Neruda Order of Artistic and Cultural Merit in 2018, the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award in 2016, the 2014 Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School of Music and the Medal of the University of Burgos, Spain, in 2021. Leading publications such as Musical America and Gramophone have named him as their artist of the year. He has received honorary doctorates from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandra Alvarado in his hometown and also from the University of Gothenburg. He was inducted into l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as a Chevalier in Paris in 2009. The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela was awarded Spain's prestigious annual Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2008. He was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2009. In 2016, Dudamel delivered the keynote speech for recipients of the National Medal of Art and National Humanities Medal.