At the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Conductor Emeritus Zubin Mehta, current Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, and Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen at an October 2019 rehearsal. Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times.

In Wednesday’s (12/20) Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed writes, “This time last year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with remarkable post-COVID robustness, boasted the biggest budget of all orchestras. It was the most venturesome and inventive, with unusually diverse programming and audiences…. Then in early February the fretting began. Gustavo Dudamel announced that when his contract with the L.A. Phil expires in 2026, he will become music director of the New York Philharmonic. Three months later, the orchestra’s ambitious CEO, Chad Smith, accepted an offer to head the Boston Symphony…. How the board is progressing in its search for a new administrative head and music director, nobody is saying…. Yet …. the L.A. Phil just finished the most exceptionally led fall season … in memory. Eight of those 10 weeks featured Dudamel, conductor laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen and conductor emeritus Zubin Mehta. By the time Dudamel steps down in three years, the three conductors will have represented a full half-century of L.A. Phil leadership … They neatly span three generations, the 87-year-old Mehta being 22 years older than Salonen, who is 23 years older than Dudamel…. Each gets a distinctive and immediately identifiable sound from the orchestra…. In L.A. the baton has been passed on to successors who, for all their individuality, nevertheless built upon all that had gone before.”