Alan Gilbert (conductor)

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert, 2016
Born (1967-02-23) February 23, 1967
Upper West Side, Manhattan
Occupation Conductor

Alan Gilbert (born February 23, 1967) is an American conductor and violinist. He is currently the music director of the New York Philharmonic, making his debut performance as the orchestra's music director on September 16, 2009. He lives in New York's Upper West Side with his Swedish wife Kajsa and their three children, Lia, Noemi, and Esra. Gilbert plans to leave the Philharmonic in 2017, ahead of the major renovation planned for David Geffen Hall.[1]

Early years

Alan Gilbert was born in New York City[2][3] His father, Michael Gilbert, retired as a violinist with the Philharmonic in 2001. His mother, Yoko Takebe still plays violin with philharmonic ensembles.[4] Growing up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Gilbert attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, where he was a top student. As a youth, he learned the violin, viola, and piano.

In the 1980s Gilbert studied music at Harvard University, where he was music director of the Harvard Bach Society Orchestra in 1988–89.[5] While in Boston, Gilbert also studied with violinist Masuko Ushioda at the New England Conservatory of Music. After obtaining his degree at Harvard, Gilbert studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller. In 1994, he won the Georg Solti prize, which garnered him a week's private tutoring with maestro Solti. Also in 1994, Gilbert won first prize at the International Competition for Musical Performance in Geneva.

Conducting career

From 1995 to 1997, Gilbert was an assistant conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1997, he won the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award.[6]

Santa Fe Opera

Gilbert's long association with Santa Fe Opera dates back to 1993, when he served as the orchestra's assistant concertmaster. Prior to that, both of Gilbert's parents played in the opera's orchestra, and his father served as concertmaster for a number of years. In 2001, Gilbert conducted his first Santa Fe Opera production, Verdi's Falstaff. In 2003, he became Santa Fe Opera's first music director. His initial contract concluded at the end of the 2006 season. In November 2006, it was reported that Gilbert was to be on "official sabbatical from June through August 2007" to spend more time with his family.[7] In May 2007, Santa Fe Opera announced that Gilbert had officially concluded his tenure as their music director.[8][9]

New York Philharmonic

Gilbert is a conductor who has built much of his reputation conducting contemporary and American music, and his appointment by the Philharmonic marked somewhat of a shift by the orchestra away from his more conservative predecessors Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, and Zubin Mehta.[10] For his inaugural 2009/10 Philharmonic season, Gilbert introduced a number of new initiatives, including the presence of Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg and Artist-in-Residence Thomas Hampson. The festivals and tours he has introduced include CONTACT – the Philharmonic's new-music series; and a major tour of Asia and the Middle East in October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi. Gilbert has led the orchestra in performances of several world, U.S., and New York premieres. He has announced that he will step down as music director in 2017.[1]

Additional work

Gilbert was Music Director of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000 to 2008. During his tenure he led concert performances of several operas: Klas Torstensson's The Expedition, Oedipus rex, Die Walküre act 1, and Das Rheingold.[11] Beginning in 2004 he has been principal guest conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra. He made his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut in November 2008 with John Adams' opera, Doctor Atomic.

Gilbert is the first person to hold the William Schuman chair in Musical Studies at the Juilliard School. The position includes coaching, conducting, and performance master classes, and Gilbert assumed the post in the fall of 2009.

Personal life

In 2002, Gilbert married Swedish cellist Kajsa William-Olsson, a member of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. They have three children.[12]


  1. 1 2 Cooper, Michael (2015-02-06). "Alan Gilbert to Leave New York Philharmonic in 2017". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
  2. Daniel J. Wakin (2007-07-19). "A Son of the Orchestra Returns as Music Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  3. Anthony Tommasini (2007-07-19). "Philharmonic Opts for Generation Next". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
  4. Yoko Takebe, New York Philharmonic. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  5. Harvard Bach Society Orchestra (2009). "Past Music Directors". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  6. Allan Kozinn (1997-10-23). "An Award Liberates Two More Conductors". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  7. "Q&A: Conductor Alan Gilbert, Caught Between Opera and Symphonic Work (And Loving It)". Playbill Arts. 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  8. Matthew Westphal (2007-05-08). "Alan Gilbert Steps Down as Music Director of Santa Fe Opera". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  9. Anne Constable, "Santa Fe Opera music director steps down". The New Mexican, 2007-05-07.
  10. Tim Page (2007-07-19). "Alan Gilbert to Lead New York Philharmonic". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  11. "Erster Gastdirigent: Alan Gilbert". NDR Symphony Orchestra. Archived from the original on 2015-01-22. Retrieved 2015-01-22.
  12. "Bagels and Books (and a Few Scores)" by Alex Vadukul, The New York Times, July 16, 2010

External links

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Andrew Davis and Paavo Järvi
Principal Conductor, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Sakari Oramo
Preceded by
(no prior Music Director)
Music Director, Santa Fe Opera
Succeeded by
Kenneth Montgomery (interim music director)
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