credit David Finlayson
New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009, and is the first native New Yorker to be appointed to that post. He simultaneously maintains a major international presence, making regular guest appearances with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Gilbert is Conductor Laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he served as Music Director for eight years, and was Principal Guest Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra (formerly known as NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg) for more than a decade. He has led operatic productions for the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, where he served as the first appointed Music Director and conducted repertoire including Carmen, Eugene Onegin, Falstaff, and Peter Grimes among other works. In August 2015 he led the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in the U.S. stage premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, a special co-production of the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center.
At the New York Philharmonic, Gilbert has widened the artistic reach of the 174-year-old institution. He initiated annual residencies for composers (with Magnus Lindberg the first appointment, and Esa-Pekka Salonen this season) and leading performing artists (this season, bass-baritone Eric Owens and pianist Inon Barnatan). Staged productions of Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Janácek's Cunning Little Vixen, Stravinsky's Petrushka and Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake have been presented to critical acclaim and capacity audiences. Gilbert also encouraged the development of two series devoted to contemporary music: CONTACT!, introduced in 2009, and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers, which was inaugurated in 2014 and returns in 2016.
Among Gilbert’s highlights this season with the New York Philharmonic are performances of Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben to welcome newly appointed Concertmaster Frank Huang; Carnegie Hall’s opening night gala; world premieres by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Magnus Lindberg, Franck Krawczyk, William Bolcolm, and Marc Neikrug; Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde; works by Sibelius to celebrate his 150th anniversary; music by Wagner, featuring Eric Owens; and an all-Mozart program including the Gran Partita. Gilbert also co-curates the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL, during which he will conduct the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Trombone Concerto, the Salonen premiere, and a work by Per Nørgård. Gilbert also swaps his baton for a violin, joining the Philharmonic’s Artist-in-Association pianist Inon Barnatan, Principal Cello Carter Brey and Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill for Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time as part of the orchestra’s “Messiaen Week.”
This season, Gilbert makes debuts with four great European orchestras: Milan’s La Scala, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony, and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; he also returns to podiums in Hamburg (NDR Symphony, where he has been Principal Guest Conductor for more than a decade), Tokyo (Metropolitan SO), Paris (Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France), Leipzig (Gewandhausorchester), and Cleveland. The LSO and Cleveland Orchestra programs include works by Carl Nielsen, a composer Gilbert has championed ardently. Last season’s release of Nielsen’s three concertos (for violin, flute and clarinet respectively) completed Gilbert’s “Nielsen Project” with the New York Philharmonic: four albums representing the complete symphonies and concertos on Denmark’s Dacapo label that celebrated the Dane’s 150th birthday. A Gramophone survey of best recordings of Nielsen’s Third Symphony named Gilbert/NY Phil’s as its top choice.
In September 2011 Alan Gilbert became Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at the Juilliard School, where he is also the first holder of Juilliard’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008, leading a production of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic that, when released on DVD, went on to win a Grammy Award. Gilbert also conducts on Renée Fleming’s Grammy Award-winning Decca release, Poèmes, and was nominated for the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction in PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center broadcast of the New York Philharmonic’s celebrated staging of Sweeney Todd. He received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in 2010, and Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award, which recognizes his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music,” the following year. Elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2014, he has now also been named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He gave the 2015 lecture for London’s Royal Philharmonic Society, speaking on “Orchestras in the 21st Century – a new paradigm,” and received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy.