“Alan Gilbert has made an indelible mark on the orchestra’s history and that of the city itself”
Grammy Award-winning conductor Alan Gilbert has been Chief Conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra since fall 2019 and Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera since spring 2021. Having served for more than a decade as Principal Guest Conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg (as the German ensemble was formerly known), he is now taking the orchestra to new artistic heights. Through adventurous programming, thought-provoking festivals and regular online streaming, he has already begun to “put Hamburg on the map as a musical center and lead the orchestra into the first rank” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Gilbert also holds positions as Principal Guest Conductor of Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and Conductor Laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. In 2017, he concluded an eight-year tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic that was widely regarded as transformative. The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he succeeded in “building a legacy that matters and … helping to change the template for what an American orchestra can be” (New York Times).
In addition to his appointments, Gilbert maintains a major international presence, making guest appearances with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has conducted operatic productions for the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich Opera and Santa Fe Opera, where he served as the inaugural Music Director. Recent operatic highlights include his staged debut at Milan’s La Scala, where he led a new production of Porgy and Bess before returning to helm the company premiere of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt; his first appearances at Dresden Semperoper with a new production of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron; and his leadership of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra’s U.S. stage premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin as part of the Lincoln Center–New York Philharmonic Opera Initiative.
In his fourth season as Chief Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Gilbert continues to diversify the ensemble’s programming. Their 2022-23 highlights include the inaugural edition of “Elbphilharmonie Visions,” a biennial ten-day celebration of 21st-century music that sees Gilbert premiere a new commission from Lisa Streich and conduct works by Hans Abrahamsen, Brett Dean and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. Launched with a grand-scale performance of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, Gilbert’s NDR season also features collaborations with Julia Bullock and Alisa Weilerstein; symphonies by Mozart, Schubert, Mahler and Tchaikovsky; and works by Americans including John Adams, Margaret Bonds, Barber and Gershwin, whose Porgy and Bess forms a centerpiece of “Love,” the 2023 Hamburg International Music Festival. To complete his NDR season, the conductor talks to German TV news anchor Michail Paweletz in multiple episodes of the orchestra’s new video podcast series, “About Music,” available on YouTube and elsewhere. Gilbert’s previous NDR highlights include the orchestra’s 75th-anniversary celebrations, extensive Asian and European tours, a festival devoted to the “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey,” world premieres of new commissions from Enno Poppe, Marc Neikrug and Composer-in-Residence Unsuk Chin, and ambitious repertoire ranging from Magnus Lindberg’s Kraft and a semi-staged production of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre to symphonies by Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Bernstein and Bruckner, whose Seventh Symphony they recorded for Sony Classical.
Beyond Hamburg, 2022-23 sees Gilbert lead three productions and a range of concerts in his second season as Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera, which he opens with Katharina Jakhelln Semb’s staging of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. In high demand worldwide, the conductor returns to the podiums of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic, where he conducts works by Barber, Dutilleux and Boris Blacher in the orchestra’s 2023 Biennial. Exploring music of the mid-20th-century, the festival also showcases Gilbert’s violin skills, when he joins Kirill Gerstein and Stefan Dohn for Ligeti’s Horn Trio. In the New Year, the conductor returns to the States to lead the Cleveland Orchestra in Nielsen’s Third Symphony and the world premiere of James Oliverio’s Timpani Concerto before returning to the Boston Symphony for a program of Lili Boulanger, Stenhammar, Dvořák and Justin Dello Joio, the world premiere of whose piano concerto features its dedicatee, Garrick Ohlsson.
In eight years as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Gilbert succeeded in transforming the orchestra, already one of the nation’s most venerable arts institutions, into a leader on the current cultural landscape. He initiated the positions of Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence, Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, and Artist-in-Association. Staged productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen, Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake were presented to critical acclaim and capacity audiences, and he oversaw the development of two series devoted to contemporary music: CONTACT!, introduced in 2009, and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, which was inaugurated in 2014 and returned in 2016 to a fanfare of critical approval. An ardent and longtime champion of Carl Nielsen, Gilbert’s recording of the Danish composer’s Third Symphony, made with the New York Philharmonic for their four-album box set as part of “The Nielsen Project” on Denmark’s Dacapo label, was chosen as Gramophone’s favorite recorded version of the work.
From 2011 to 2018, Alan Gilbert served as Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at the Juilliard School, where he was 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. He also conducts on Renée Fleming’s Grammy Award-winning Decca release, Poèmes, and was nominated for the 2015 and 2016 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction in PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts of two New York Philharmonic productions: the orchestra’s celebrated staging of Sweeney Todd, and its 100th-birthday gala tribute to Frank Sinatra, which featured Christina Aguilera, Bernadette Peters and Sting. Gilbert received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music (2010) and Westminster Choir College (2016), as well as Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award, which recognizes his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music” (2011). 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 during the New York Philharmonic’s European tour, speaking on “Orchestras in the 21st Century – a new paradigm,” and received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Gilbert hosted a popular series of Facebook Live chats with fellow conductors Marin Alsop, Herbert Blomstedt, Karina Canellakis, Daniel Harding, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
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Alan Gilbert has been named Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera, where he looks forward to launching his tenure in spring 2021.
It is with much excitement that EMM is delighted to announce that ALAN GILBERT has been appointed Chief Conductor of the
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester starting 2019/20.
“The Gilbert era…has been the most intellectually lively in the recent history of the orchestra.” – New Yorker In seven years as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert has continued to evolve the role of the modern orchestra; as the New York Times...