“The evening is likely to go down as the most exciting conducting debut in the orchestra’s history,” wrote the Tagesspiegel after the Waldbühne concert in 2008, which was Gustavo Dudamel’s first time conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker. The then 27-year-old conductor, a graduate of the Venezuelan music education programme “El Sistema” and winner of the International Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, embarked on a meteoric career that led him to the major international orchestras and opera houses. He is currently music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and musical director of the Paris Opera, as well as chief conductor designate of the New York Philharmonic. He has also led the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela since the age of 18. The Venezuelan musician has a close artistic friendship with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Over the past 15 years, Dudamel has come regularly to Berlin, often conducting two programmes per season and displaying a wide artistic range in his repertoire: whether works by Russian or French composers, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler or new music – he has always impressed with his electrifying, energetic style of music-making. Time and again, the orchestra has also invited him to perform at concert events with media impact: his Waldbühne appearance in 2008 was followed by the New Year’s Eve Concert in 2010, the Europakonzert in Vienna in 2012, and two more Waldbühne concerts in 2014 and 2017. He also accompanied the orchestra on its major tour of Asia in 2018 – further proof of their great mutual appreciation.