New York Philharmonic Extends Contract of Alan Gilbert as Music Director Through 2016-17 Season
Tenure So Far of Gilbert, Who Holds Yoko Nagae Ceschina Chair,
Characterized by Strong Collaboration with Orchestra, Bold Artistic Initiatives, Philharmonic Milestones & Evolutionary Vision
New York Philharmonic Chairman Gary W. Parr and Executive Director Matthew VanBesien announced yesterday the extension of Alan Gilbert’s contract as Music Director through the 2016–17 season. Gilbert began his tenure as Music Director on September 16, 2009, and has just started his fourth season.
Representing one of the first actions of New York Philharmonic Executive Director Matthew VanBesien, who officially assumed his position on September 1, 2012, the three-year contract extension reflects the strong chemistry between the Music Director, the orchestra, and the organization. It broadens the horizon for the powerful partnership of the Music Director and the Executive Director, providing them with a new five years to continue to define and evolve their vision for the New York Philharmonic.
Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic musicians share a rare synergy that infuses every concert, and they have traversed the repertoire from Bach and Mozart through Mahler and Stravinsky to music of the present day. Their performances together have garnered critical acclaim on the three continents they have visited together, on tours whose highlights have included the Philharmonic’s Vietnam debut, the inaugural International Associates residency at London’s Barbican Centre, and a spotlight role in the San Francisco Symphony’s centennial celebrations. At home, the Philharmonic’s presentations have consistently been included in media round-ups of the year’s best cultural events, most notably the sold-out milestone productions of Ligeti’s Le grand macabre, Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, and Philharmonic 360 at the Park Avenue Armory, the acclaimed spatial-music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen. Alan Gilbert has transformed the Philharmonic with his all-embracing and multifaceted approach to programming and through the implementation of several new initiatives: the introduction of two new positions, The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence; an annual multi-week festival focused on a single composer or musical family; and CONTACT!, the new-music series. The Music Director’s 2012–13 Philharmonic season builds on this momentum with more premieres and canonical masterpieces, a fifth European tour, and A Dancer’s Dream: Two Works by Stravinsky — a fusion of symphony, theater, and ballet. In his leadership roles at both the Philharmonic and the Juilliard School, Alan Gilbert has become a leading New York City cultural figure.
“Alan Gilbert is an innovative and visionary leader for the New York Philharmonic,” said Chairman Gary W. Parr. “He has brought a thoughtful and intelligent revolution that has advanced this storied institution at home in New York and in its role as cultural ambassador abroad. Every concert has an energy that is contagious. I know that our audiences and musicians alike have been thrilled with the journey Alan has taken them on. He has the total and enthusiastic support of the Board of Directors and our management team, and we look forward to continuing this great musical adventure with Alan for years to come.”
“I came to the New York Philharmonic not only because of the wonderful tradition here at this orchestra, but also to have the opportunity to forge the strongest of partnerships with Alan,” said Matthew VanBesien, Executive Director. “Working closely with him, our musicians, and the entire organization, we are charting a new path for the Philharmonic, emanating from, and in full support of, Alan’s artistic vision. His initiatives and accomplishments are already transforming the institution; his programming is fresh and exciting, juxtaposing works from every era and musical language, and his bold, creative ideas about how we should lead the musical dialogue are having a serious impact on the larger artistic conversation in America. We share a passion in the belief that the New York Philharmonic is not only a truly magnificent orchestra, but also an incredible resource, one that we can expand and develop even further in the years to come. To find myself at the beginning of a five-year working canvas in partnership with him is a thrilling prospect.”
“When I first became Music Director I said that this was the dream I hadn’t dared to dream,” Alan Gilbert commented. “After these three amazing seasons, I can say it’s been a spectacular adventure. My relationship with these extraordinary musicians grows and deepens every day, and it infuses every concert with an intangible magic. Together, we’ve had a string of successes here at home and around the world, and I am particularly gratified to see that we’ve begun to stake a central place in the cultural life of New York. After concerts, people stop me on the street to say thank you, although it is I who would like to thank our audience for their enthusiasm and dedication. In fact, I’ve felt incredible support from every quarter — from the musicians, the Board, the dedicated staff, and now Matthew, with whom I look forward to writing the next chapter of the Philharmonic’s story. I’m profoundly grateful to all, and I would like to thank our donors for making so much possible. We are on an amazing journey.”
“This is a very positive step for the New York Philharmonic,” said Fiona Simon, Chairperson of the Orchestra Committee. “Alan’s total commitment to the organization is evidenced behind the scenes as well as when he is on the podium. Generous of spirit, enthusiastic, and collegial, he has become a youthful symbol of the New York music scene. Alan’s innovative and enthusiastic approach to contemporary music is placing the Philharmonic at the vanguard of this genre. We look forward to music-making of a very high level over the coming years.”
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New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, The Yoko Nagae Ceschina Chair, began his tenure in September 2009, launching what New York magazine called “a fresh future for the Philharmonic.” The first native New Yorker to hold the post, he has sought to make the orchestra a point of civic pride for the city and country. “The Philharmonic is once again part of any conversation about the liveliness of the arts: a goal that Mr. Gilbert announced on arrival, then wasted no time in achieving,” the New York Times declared.
Gilbert’s creative approach to programming combines works in fresh and innovative ways. He has also forged artistic partnerships, introducing the positions of The Marie- Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence and The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in- Residence, held in the 2012–13 season by Christopher Rouse and pianist Emanuel Ax, respectively; an annual, multi-week festival, which this season is The Bach Variations in collaboration with the 92nd Street Y; and CONTACT!, the new-music series in which Philharmonic musicians perform works by today’s leading and emerging composers in New York’s more intimate venues.
In the 2012–13 season Alan Gilbert conducts world premieres by Anders Hillborg, Steven Stucky, and Christopher Rouse; he presides over a cycle of Brahms’s complete symphonies and concertos; he continues The Nielsen Project, his multi-year initiative performing and recording the Danish composer’s six symphonies and three concertos; he conducts Bach’s Mass in B minor and an all-American program that includes Ives’s Fourth Symphony; and he leads the orchestra on the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour. The season concludes with June Journey: Gilbert’s Playlist, four programs showcasing themes and ideas that Alan Gilbert has introduced since becoming Music Director. The season finale is a theatrical reimagining of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and The Fairy’s Kiss in collaboration with director/designer Doug Fitch that features New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Sara Mearns.
Last season’s highlights included performances of three Mahler symphonies, including the Second, “Resurrection”, on A Concert for New York on September 10; the orchestra’s first International Associates residency at London’s Barbican Centre as part of its EUROPE / WINTER 2012 tour; the CALIFORNIA / SPRING 2012 tour; and Philharmonic 360, the Philharmonic and Park Avenue Armory’s acclaimed spatial music program featuring Stockhausen’s Gruppen, about which the New York Times said: “Those who think classical music needs some shaking up routinely challenge music directors at major orchestras to think outside the box. That is precisely what Alan Gilbert did.” High points of Mr. Gilbert’s first two Philharmonic seasons included the acclaimed performance of Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, hailed by the Washington Post as “another victory,” and 2010’s wildly successful staging of Ligeti’s Le grand macabre, which the New York Times called “an instant Philharmonic milestone”; world premieres of works by Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, and composers featured on CONTACT!; Gilbert’s Philharmonic debut as violin soloist in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; four concerts at Carnegie Hall; and four tours to Europe, as well as the Asia Horizons tour, which included the Philharmonic’s Vietnam debut at the historic Hanoi Opera House.
In September 2011 Alan Gilbert became Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at the Juilliard School, where he is also the first holder of Juilliard’s William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies. Conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, he regularly conducts leading orchestras nationally and internationally, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic. His 2012–13 season engagements include appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, NDR Symphony Orchestra, and Berlin Staatskapelle.
Alan Gilbert made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 leading John Adams’s Doctor Atomic; the DVD and Blu-ray of this production received the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Earlier releases garnered Grammy Award nominations and top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone magazine. Alan Gilbert studied at Harvard University, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Juilliard, and he was assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra (1995–97). In May 2010 he received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Curtis, and in December 2011 he received Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award for his “exceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music.”
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© 21C Media Group, October 2012
Published: October 25, 2012