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Alan Gilbert 'Hits Ground Running' in London Symphony Orchestra Debut

 NY Philharmonic Alan Gilbert

Last week Music Director Alan Gilbert made his debut conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in two programs at the Barbican Centre.

In a review of the April 4 concert, headlined "New York maestro hands audience an adrenaline rush," The Guardian hailed the performance as "exciting." The Times of London said: "The swaggering brilliance brought to Nielsen’s Masquerade overture seemed especially American, underlined by gestures and podium moves that suggested Gilbert had been struck by lightning. ... [In Sibelius's Third Symphony] Gilbert’s incisive way with dynamic shifts brought positive results, and I still came home humming lilting morsels from the second movement.”

The Evening Standard summed it up: "It’s taken a long time for the London Symphony Orchestra to book New York-based conductor Alan Gilbert, but to judge from his debut concert, a long-term relationship seems likely."

“This concert began with the pop of a champagne cork ... with a buoyant rendition of Carl Nielsen’s flamboyant Masquerade overture. Gilbert struck a fine balance between Mozartian grace and Straussian fun (both Johann and Richard!) in this fleet and exuberant performance,” said Seen and Heard International.

“Gilbert’s interpretation of Sibelius 3 was impressive," said Classical Source. "Absolute clarity of inner parts, tremendous force at climaxes and wonderfully soft pianissimos, the LSO very responsive.”

The April 7 concert featured Nielsen's Symphony No. 4, Inextinguishable. Classical Source said: “Gilbert ... ensured an explosive opening, emotions laid bare, and there was no doubting that [the first movement] brought a heightened sense of conflict, momentarily relieved by the pastoral second movement that is scored mostly for woodwinds, and here played beguilingly. ... Alan Gilbert seems to have hit the ground running in his first engagements with the LSO."

More Sibelius, the Symphony No. 7, is on offer when Gilbert returns to the David Geffen Hall podium next week. See you there!

Alec Baldwin Presents Alan Gilbert with New York Youth Symphony Award

Congrats, Alan!

On Tuesday night Music Director Alan Gilbert received the New York Youth Symphony's (NYYS) Theodore L. Kesselman Award for the Arts at the NYYS 53rd Annual Benefit Gala, at Tribeca Rooftop. Philharmonic Board Member and Radio Host Alec Baldwin presented the award.

The Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education was established in 1995 to recognize significant dedication by an individual or institution making outstanding contributions in nurturing young people in the arts. 

New York Philharmonic Assistant Conductor Joshua Gersen, NYYS's music director, led the NYYS orchestra in the gala entertainment.

Alan Gilbert Conducts Messiaen at Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Alan Gilbert Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Fresh off the Philharmonic’s busy summer — from Shanghai to Vail to California — and an acclaimed stint leading the U.S. Stage Premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Music Director Alan Gilbert has just completed another celebrated run of concerts, this time as artist-in-residence of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. The Denver Post says it best:

Landmark events are rare for festivals that have been around a long time, but this performance, conducted by New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert, is a big moment, indeed, for this heralded music series. The main event: Messiaen’s majestic “From the Canyons to the Stars,” inspired by the Western terrain - which is sorta perfect.

Check out the Santa Fe New Mexican’s insightful interview with Alan Gilbert on his Santa Fe roots, Messiaen, and Mozart.

And mark your calendars for the Philharmonic’s Messiaen Week in March 2016, which includes Alan playing violin in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time alongside Philharmonic principals and Artist-in-Association Inon Barnatan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur.

Photo: Alan Gilbert conducting Schoenberg at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 2013

Alan Gilbert Gets Ready To Conduct Written on Skin at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival

NY Philharmonic Alan Gilbert Written on Skin Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival Opera News

After conducting the New York Philharmonic at Bravo! Vail and Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West, Alan Gilbert will head back to Lincoln Center to conduct the U.S. Premiere of George Benjamin’s highly acclaimed Written on Skin — called “the best opera written in twenty years” (Le Monde), “the work of a genius unleashed” (The New Yorker), “psychologically gripping, emotionally heart-pounding and viscerally satisfying drama” (The New York Times) — with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at the David H. Koch Theater in a Philharmonic–Mostly Mozart Festival co-presentation, August 11–15.

It’s the inaugural project resulting from the Lincoln Center–New York Philharmonic Opera Initiative, created to present fully staged productions of significant modern operas never before seen in New York. It also builds on Alan Gilbert’s run of acclaimed stagings with the Philharmonic, from Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre (2010) to Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake (2015).

Learn more about the production, as well as Alan Gilbert’s thoughts, in this informative Opera News story.

Alan Gilbert Receives Foreign Policy Association Medal

Foreign Policy Association Medal Alan Gilbert

Last night Music Director Alan Gilbert was recognized by The Foreign Policy Association (FPA), the principal public forum in New York City for foreign policy addresses, for his role in “demonstrating responsible internationalism and working to expand public knowledge of international affairs.” 

At its Annual Dinner last night, Alan was presented with the Foreign Policy Association Medal, along with Louis Bacon, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Moore Capital Management, LP and President, The Moore Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University. Speakers included former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.

When he was presented with his medal, Alan Gilbert spoke movingly of the power of music to unite people from seemingly opposed countries and cultures. 

“I am in a very fortunate position. As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, on a daily basis I am able, indeed compelled, to consider the wider ramifications of what we do. For music has a unique power as a driving cultural force, one that has been abused by dictators as well as harnessed by great democracies.”

After recalling the actions that the Philharmonic and other orchestras have taken in this belief — including the Philharmonic’s visits to the USSR in 1959 and Pyongyang in 2008, as well as our immersive, long-term partnerships in Shanghai and London — Gilbert concluded: “I view this award as a recognition, not of any personal achievement I have made, but rather of Music itself, and of its power to bridge divides and to bring people together. Being a musician is a privilege I treasure every day.”

After Friday's Final Don Giovanni, Alan Gilbert Returns to Conduct Salonen, Adams, and Stravinsky

Alan Gilbert NY Philharmonic

This Friday, March 5, is the final performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni led by Music Director Alan Gilbert at The Metropolitan Opera before returning to the Philharmonic for two enticing and varied programs: music by R. Strauss, Debussy, Ravel (featuring Artist-in-Association Inon Barnatan), and Esa-Pekka Salonen on March 19–24; and, on March 26–28, the World Premiere of John Adams's Scheherazade.2 – Dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra (with Leila Josefowicz) alongside Stravinsky's Petrushka.

The production of Don Giovanni builds on Gilbert's expertise in opera, which Philharmonic audiences have experienced in Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre (2010), Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen (2011), and HK Gruber's Gloria – A Pig Tale (part of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, in 2014). The New York Times Chief Music Critic Anthony Tommasini wrote: "Alan Gilbert, in his second appearance with the Met, conducts a vividly detailed, urgent and elegant performance…. He conveyed the arc of Mozart's score. … The orchestra played superbly."

Look for Alan’s next opera gig in New York City when he crosses the Plaza again to lead George Benjamin’s acclaimed opera Written on Skin, August 11–15, 2015, in a Lincoln Center–New York Philharmonic collaboration.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

A Very Beethoven Birthday, Alan: Check Out WQXR's Carnegie Hall Live

Alan Gilbert WQXR NY Philharmonic

How will Alan Gilbert be celebrating his birthday Monday night? As co-host for WQXR’s Carnegie Hall Live broadcast of that evening’s performance of three Beethoven Piano Concertos by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra with his friend Leif Ove Andsnes as soloist.

The pianist will lead Beethoven’s Second, Third, and Fourth Piano Concertos from the keyboard, as Alan and WQXR host Jeff Spurgeon discuss Leif Ove’s extended musical adventure through the five piano concertos he has called “The Beethoven Journey” — what it means to dive into the great composer’s work so thoroughly, and his discovery of how and why audiences connect with this music.

Grab a slice of birthday cake and tune in to WQXR at 8:00 p.m. on February 23, 2015.

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

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.