Today, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced that Gustavo Dudamel has extended his contract as music director through the 2018-19 season. When the Cleveland Orchestra nailed down its young music director, Franz Welser-Möst, to a similarly long contract, it was as a half-defiant gesture of support for a conductor not everyone thought was the best leader for the ensemble. When the Los Angeles Philharmonic board decided to extend Dudamel's contract (which originally ran through 2014), it was to keep other orchestras from courting him. Probably no other conductor these days is so hotly watched. He's only in his second season, though, and it is still a question how he will continue to mature -- but now, Los Angeles will be the first to know.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Riccardo Muti is giving further cause for concern. Having cut short his triumphant inaugural period in October as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's new music director and flown back to Italy due to exhaustion, the 69-year-old conductor returned this week for the winter season -- and fainted at rehearsal. He suffered only "superficial facial injuries," but had to be hospitalized and cancel this week's performances: Mitsuko Uchida led the orchestra on Thursday, and Leonard Slatkin is stepping in on Friday.
Slatkin, of course, has had less conducting work than he anticipated this season since the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hasn't played a single concert. It has now reached the 4-month mark of a bitter strike; management is making a new contract offer this week, which some have referred to as the final offer.
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