Gustavo Dudamel Conducting the LA Phil | Photo by Vera Evans
The LA Phil announced details of its 2019-20 season earlier this week. While the orchestra’s 101st season doesn’t have the monumental scope of its centennial counterpart, the year ahead at the LA Phil is nevertheless ambitious. The orchestra’s commitment to diversity deepens in 2019-20. Of the LA Phil’s 22 commissions in the upcoming season, half are by women. 27% are by non-white composers. In addition, half of the guest artists will be women. (Ratios at all other major American orchestra skew male.)
The season begins with a gala taking place on the actual date of the 100th anniversary of the first LA Phil performance, October 24, 2019. For the occasion, the orchestra commissioned Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason to write a work in three movements. Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen, and former Music Director Zubin Mehta will each conduct one movement.
Elsewhere in the season, Gustavo Dudamel will conduct 17 weeks of concerts, including a series pairing the symphonies of American composer Charles Ives with the last three symphonies by Antonín Dvořák. Dudamel and Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock will co-curate a festival in March 2020, celebrating activism and social justice in music called Power to the People! In May, Dudamel will conduct a fully-staged performance of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George.
Among the commissions in 2019-20 are two new cello concertos–one by Julia Adolphe and another by Andrew Norman–both of whom had works premiered to great acclaim in the current LA Phil season. Also, a unique double concerto for flute and bass by the Mexican composer Felipe Lara, featuring soloists Claire Chase and Esperanza Spalding, led by the LA Phil’s principal guest conductor Susanna Mälkki. There’ll also be an evening of new music by recent Pulitzer Prize winner Du Yun on a program that she is curating. You can also expect premieres by composer and USC Thornton School of Music faculty member Veronika Krausas plus new works by Kaija Saariaho and Julia Wolfe and Rajna Swaminathan and Mazz Swift and Esteban Benzecry and the list goes on and on.
Julia Adolphe | Photo by Stephen Busken
Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Weimar Republic project is coming back to the LA Phil after having been postponed this season. Gustavo Dudamel will close the season by conducting Arnold Schoenberg’s blazing Gurrelieder. Conductors Karina Canellakis, Karen Kamensek, and Nathalie Stutzmann will all make their debuts with the LA Phil next season.
And, from a radio standpoint, the most exciting thing of all might be the fact that the LA Phil has signed a new recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. 28 (!) concert recordings will be released, including Andrew Norman’s Sustain, which Classical KUSC broadcast earlier this season. Plus, a new 100th anniversary 32-disc LA Phil box set of historic recordings will be released alongside a new recording of Gustavo Dudamel conducting the music of his close friend, John Williams. That means lots more LA Phil on your radio (and elsewhere). Find all the details of the LA Phil’s 2019-20 season here.