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Alan Gilbert Leads Juilliard Orchestra with 'Humanity' and 'Testosterone'

Posted October 25, 2013

Alan Gilbert conducts the Juilliard Orchestra

"It is a testimony to the conductor Alan Gilbert’s commitment to education that while busy with his work as music director of the New York Philharmonic he is also the director of conducting and orchestral studies at the Juilliard School," wrote The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini October 18, in a listing item for the performance by Gilbert and the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall October 21.

Reviewing the concert for the Times, Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim wrote, "Mr. Gilbert, who conducted the hourlong symphony from memory, shaped a performance that combined deep humanity, especially in the Adagio, with high charges of testosterone in the Scherzo and Finale." She added:

There are experts — I’m not one of them — who can identify an orchestra by its sound. During Monday evening’s concert of the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, I found myself wondering what these people would have heard if they had sat blindfolded through this program of works by Bartok and Bruckner, conducted by Alan Gilbert. As powerful waves of rich brass chords rolled out during the last movement of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, would they have guessed that the players are students, most in their early 20s? When the sound of the violins intensified with the heat and gleam of molten metal, could they have known that the section was almost entirely made up of women?

In any case, such a blind test would have deprived the listener of the visual pleasure of watching this polished and passionate ensemble dig into Bruckner’s music with a palpable thirst for adventure.

(Photo by Peter Schaaf)