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Alan Gilbert To Step Down as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in 2017

Posted February 06, 2015

Today we announced that Alan Gilbert has decided to step down as the Philharmonic’s Music Director at the end of the summer 2017. “Making music with the New York Philharmonic is a great joy for me,” he said. “I am very proud of the musical journey we are taking together.”

The timing of his decision was partly prompted by his desire to ensure a strong transition for the institution in light of the planned renovation of Avery Fisher Hall, anticipated to begin in 2019. He explained, “After eight years in such an all-consuming job, the time will be right to hand off the responsibility for taking the New York Philharmonic through its next great chapter leading to the reopening of the hall.”

He will leave after eight years of leadership, in which he has introduced both new artistic initiatives and ongoing collaborations, resulting in a significant transformation of the Philharmonic. This leadership will continue to bear fruit in the form of the many exciting concerts over the next two-and-a-half seasons. “I am also extremely gratified by the response that both the Orchestra and our audiences have had to even my most ambitious ideas. With the invaluable support of Matthew VanBesien and the Board of Directors, I think we have succeeded in showing that a large musical institution can successfully take risks and break new ground. As a result the Orchestra is in a great position to continue on a path of artistic adventure, discovery, and relevance.” 

Alan Gilbert will continue to have a significant Philharmonic presence in the 2017–18 season and beyond, including co-curating one of the Orchestra’s signature successes, the NY PHIL BIENNIAL; conducting subscription programs celebrating the centennial of Leonard Bernstein; and participating in the Orchestra’s 175th anniversary celebration. And guest conducting appearances and special projects are being planned for future seasons. 

The Philharmonic’s leadership expressed gratitude for all of the Music Director’s contributions. “Alan has been exactly the leader the New York Philharmonic needed, and the mark he has made will be long-lasting,” said Chairman Oscar Schafer. “Alan’s artistic vision and sense of how to move this institution forward have resulted in changes in everything from how we present concerts to how we think of ourselves as an institution in this century, and his ideas will continue to imbue all that we do. As we head into this crucial period in the planned renovation of Avery Fisher Hall, Alan’s decision will allow the Philharmonic to ensure a strong transition. I know Alan and Matthew VanBesien will continue to work together to provide forward-thinking leadership during this pivotal time. Alan will always have a home at the Philharmonic and we look forward to having him back often for concerts and projects.”

President Matthew VanBesien echoed this enthusiasm: “Alan’s work here has truly changed the DNA of the Philharmonic. We will continue the drive to think innovatively as we move into this important next phase. From Alan’s unique partnership with our Orchestra, which has led to the very highest level performances week after week, to his innovations in concert programming and artistic collaborations, which have transformed and electrified this great institution, his mark on the Philharmonic will be enduring. We look forward to Alan’s continued presence in New York and having him as a valued member of the Philharmonic family.” 

“Alan Gilbert is a great conductor and colleague, a tireless advocate for the New York Philharmonic, and genuinely committed to producing the highest level of performance at every concert,” said Fiona Simon, Chairperson of the Orchestra Committee. “He has had a huge impact on the Orchestra and the way we musicians think about what’s possible. Each of Alan’s many new initiatives, such as the staged opera Le Grand Macabre and the Philharmonic 360 project with Park Avenue Armory, expanded our repertoire, range, and flexibility as an ensemble. Alan’s artistic conviction and how we think about our musical mission will have a lasting impact.”

Although this is the beginning of a departure, many exciting concerts await over Alan’s remaining two-and-half seasons, and we look forward to sharing them with you.