Music director, cultural leader, teacher
Music director, cultural leader, teacher
Chief Conductor – NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Hamburg
Music Director – Royal Swedish Opera
Conductor Laureate – Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Principal Guest Conductor – Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra
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. After serving for more than a decade as Principal Guest Conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, as the German ensemble was formerly known, now Gilbert is set to “put Hamburg on the map as a musical center and lead the orchestra into the first rank” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). He 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 not only in making “an indelible mark on the orchestra’s history and that of the city itself” (New Yorker), but also 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 these 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. Gilbert has also 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 2021-22 Gilbert looks forward to his first uninterrupted season as Chief Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. After an Opening Night program featuring Yo-Yo Ma and the world premiere of a new NDR co-commission from Mark-Anthony Turnage, this autumn Gilbert and the orchestra look forward to collaborations with Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming and Kirill Gerstein; symphonies by Beethoven, Schumann and Bruckner; and an extensive European tour. In winter/spring 2022, the conductor showcases his adventurous programming in “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey,” a festival featuring his celebrated interpretation of Ives’s Fourth Symphony; and reunites with such favorite soloists as Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang. It is Gilbert’s leadership of Haydn’s oratorio The Creation that opens the sixth annual Hamburg International Music Festival, a four-week spring immersion in nature-inspired music and debates about the environment and climate change, which also sees him conduct Dvořák’s Rusalka and the world premiere of Marc Neikrug’s NDR-commissioned Fourth Symphony. Gilbert’s previous NDR highlights include a four-week festival to inaugurate his tenure with the orchestra, its 75th-anniversary celebrations, an extensive Asian tour, world premieres of new commissions by Enno Poppe 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, Bruckner and Bernstein.
In his first season as Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera, Gilbert conducts Brahms’s German Requiem at Stockholm’s Gustav Vasa Church to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and helms a November production of Wagner’s Die Walküre that marks the first appearances of his tenure in the company’s home opera house. In addition to fall concerts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and Bucharest, the 2021-22 season also sees Gilbert return to guest conduct Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Gilbert led livestreamed concerts with the Swedish Radio Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Royal Swedish Opera and 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, besides being featured in “Mahler’s New York: A Digital Festival,” a streaming event by the New York Philharmonic. The 2019-20 season also saw the release of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, which Gilbert recorded with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra for Sony Classical, as well as both volumes of the complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle he recorded for Pentatone with Inon Barnatan and London’s Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
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 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, an exploration of today’s music by a wide range of contemporary and modern composers, which was inaugurated in 2014 and returned in 2016 to a fanfare of critical approval. An ardent and longtime champion of Carl Nielsen, his 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.