Recognized for his natural ease and extraordinary collaborative spirit, American conductor James Gaffigan has attracted international attention for his equitable prowess as both a conductor of symphony orchestras and opera. The mutual trust he builds with artists empowers them to cultivate the highest art possible.
Gaffigan is uniquely poised in his music directorships at two international opera houses. He is the newly appointed general music director of Komische Oper Berlin, a post that commences in the 2023–24 season, and is in his second season as music director of Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, where his production of Berg’s Wozzeck was widely acclaimed. He serves as principal guest conductor of both the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, where he is in his ninth and final season, and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Opera. He also serves as music director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra, where he champions the education of promising young musicians. In June 2021 Gaffigan finished his tenure as chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for ten years, where he raised the orchestra’s international profile with recordings and tours abroad.
In high demand with leading orchestras and opera companies throughout North America and Europe, in the 2022–23 season Gaffigan leads productions of Puccini’s La bohème and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at Valencia’s Les Arts, La bohème at The Metropolitan Opera, and Tristan und Isolde at Santa Fe Opera. His orchestral appearances include returns to the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, DC) leading two programs: Bernstein’s Mass in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of The Kennedy Center, and subscription performances later in the season. He also conducts the Orchestre de Paris, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Orchestra of Teatro di San Carlo; reunites with the Lucerne Symphony; and leads the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, where he conducts a special concert with soprano Lise Davidsen culminating his tenure as principal guest conductor.
Passionate about music education and a product of the New York City public school system, James Gaffigan believes access to music education is the method by which America’s concert halls will finally begin to reflect our community and shrink the racial and gender gaps that exist in performing arts today.