Hailed for the natural ease of his conducting and the compelling insight of his musicianship, James Gaffigan continues to attract international attention and is one of the most outstanding American conductors working today. He is currently chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra (where he will conclude his tenure in 2021) and principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (a post recently extended for the third time). Since joining the Lucerne Symphony, Mr. Gaffigan has made a very significant impact on the orchestra’s profile, both nationally and internationally, through a number of highly successful tours and recordings. Passionate about music education, he was recently appointed music director designate of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra, effective 2021.
Mr. Gaffigan is in high demand with leading orchestras and opera houses throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia. The 2019–20 season features re-invitations to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre national de France, and Czech Philharmonic, as well as debuts with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He undertakes three major opera productions in the United States: Rossini’s La Cenerentola at The Metropolitan Opera, Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at Santa Fe Opera.
Recent symphonic highlights include appearances with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Staatskapelle, Vienna Symphony, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. In North America he has worked with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Toronto symphony orchestras, among others. Opera highlights include conducting at the Bavarian Staatsoper, Dutch National Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Festival, Hamburg Opera, and Opernhaus Zürich.
In 2004 James Gaffigan was named First Prize winner of the Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. In 2009, he completed a three-year tenure as associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, a position specially created for him by Michael Tilson Thomas. Prior to that appointment, Mr. Gaffigan served as assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra under music director Franz Welser Möst.
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