L.A. Philharmonic conductor passes baton

LOS ANGELES /*Salonen*/ will hold concerts for two weekends mid-April before stepping down from the job he has held since 1992. Next season, /*Gustavo Dudamel*/ will hold the baton.

In Salonen's youthful 20s, he guest-conducted the orchestra in 1984 and began his official tenure eight years later.

"It was just a very good match -- I felt -- from the very beginning," said Salonen.

During a rehearsal break, Salonen spoke about the Los Angeles orchestra.

"L.A. is a place that is very exciting for a musician because it's so open," said Salonen. "There are no preconceived opinions of how things should be."

For one of his final concerts, Salonen composed a violin concerto for /*Leila Josefowicz*/, a violinist. The final concert series, during the weekend of April 16-19, will feature the music of famed composer /*Igor Stravinsky*/, one of Salonen's inspirations.

/*Los Angeles Philharmonic*/ Association President Deborah Borda calls Salonen her partner in bringing the orchestra into the 21st century.

"As we look back at a 17-year tenure, this simply doesn't happen anymore," said Borda. "He hired 54 members of the orchestra. He stuck with the project of Walt Disney Concert Hall and stayed with us afterwards."

The /*Walt Disney Concert Hall*/ opened in 2003 and is Salonen's lasting source of achievement.

"Music is elusive in its nature. When the concert is over, the concert is over. The notes have sounded and it's gone, whereas the building is here to stay," said Salonen.

After Salonen steps down, he will return to visit both onstage and in the audience. But he will first compose and conduct in Europe.

During Salonen's he has participated it 23 tours, 120 premieres and has led the orchestra more than 970 times. It may be no wonder that his final concert will be sold out.

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