Gustavo Dudamel, the famed music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic whose face plasters banners across the city, is set to leave L.A. and join New York’s top orchestra beginning in 2026.
Dudamel will conduct three more seasons with the L.A. Phil to conclude his contract, ending a 17-year tenure leading one of the country’s preeminent orchestras and becoming one of the most well-recognized maestros in pop culture. In joining the New York Philharmonic, Dudamel will be exiting his post to lead one of the so-called “Big Five” orchestras in the U.S. alongside Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland.
“I gaze with joy and excitement at the world that lies before me in New York City, and with pride and love at the world I have shared — and will continue to share — with my dear Angelenos over the next three seasons and beyond,” Dudamel said in a statement on Tuesday. “All of us are united in our belief that culture creates a better world, and in our dream that music is a fundamental right. I look forward to the work ahead.”
Originally from Venezuela, Dudamel was appointed to the top post at L.A. at the age of 26 and began his first season with the orchestra in 2009 at 28. Bringing an energetic conducting style to the perch and marketed as the city’s newest star, including with banner advertisements displaying his face that still line the city’s street posts, Dudamel has widely been recognized as helping to revitalize the organization and being a champion for new music.
Along the way, the conductor cemented his own status in Hollywood, serving as an inspiration for the main character (and making a cameo) in Amazon Studio’s Mozart in the Jungle, conducting soundtracks for Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, lending his voice to an appropriately named “Trollzart” (Troll + Mozart) character in DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour, accompanying Billie Eilish for Disney+’s Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles, and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019.
In a separate statement, L.A. Phil CEO Chad Smith said the orchestra will begin the search for its next music director and looks forward to welcoming Dudamel back as a guest conductor in the future.
At New York, Dudamel will succeed conductor Jaap Van Zweden and will hold the title of music and artistic director beginning in the 2026-27 season for a five-year term. He will initially serve as music director designate for the 2025-26 season.