Press Room

Alan Gilbert, Chief Conductor Designate of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Embarks on Full International Season in Concert Hall and Opera House

With programs featuring ten symphonies and three operas in ten countries across three continents, Alan Gilbert’s full 2018-19 season showcases something of the extraordinary breadth of his range. As Chief Conductor Designate of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, where he looks forward to inaugurating his tenure next season, the Grammy Award-winning conductor leads concerts and a semi-staged production of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre in Germany, and embarks on an extensive Asian tour. Also a highly sought-after guest conductor, he takes the podiums of no fewer than eleven more ensembles. For his sole U.S. appearances of the season, he returns to the Cleveland Orchestra for Haydn and Busoni. Elsewhere, besides making his Israel Philharmonic debut with a ten-day residency, he rejoins the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he serves as Conductor Laureate, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, where he was recently appointed as Principal Guest Conductor; gives his first performances in a decade with the Zurich Tonhalle and Vienna Symphony orchestras; and reunites with some of the other world-class ensembles with which he enjoys strong ties, namely the Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Bavarian Radio Symphony, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Finally, beyond the concert hall, he conducts rarely staged 20th-century operas by two very different Viennese composers, making his Dresden Semperoper debut with a new production of Schoenberg’s Moses and Aaron and returning to Milan’s La Scala for Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt.

At home and on tour in Asia with Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra

Earlier this year, Gilbert scored a fifth Grammy nomination for his new Shostakovich recording with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, where, even before launching his new tenure, he has already been hailed as one of “the most important bearers of hope on Hamburg’s cultural scene” (Abendblatt).

In fall concerts in Lübeck and at the Elbphilharmonie, the orchestra’s state-of-the-art new home, Gilbert leads programs anchored by Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony and Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto (Oct 11-14). Their soloist is Inon Barnatan, “one of the most admired pianists of his generation” (New York Times), with whom Gilbert recently recorded the same concerto for a soon-to-be-issued complete Beethoven cycle with London’s Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Together with Brahms’s Fourth, Bruckner’s Seventh is one of the two symphonies with which Gilbert undertakes his first tour as Chief Conductor Designate of the Hamburg orchestra. At concerts in Shanghai, Tokyo, Kyoto, Kamakura, and Nagoya, he directs programs built around each of the two, with pianist Hélène Grimaud as soloist in concertos by Beethoven and Ravel (Oct 28–Nov 8).

Named “Best Classical Performance of 2010” by New York magazine and dubbed an “instant [New York] Philharmonic milestone” by the New York Times, Gilbert’s leadership of György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre was widely acclaimed as a landmark of his eight-year tenure with the orchestra. Now, again in collaboration with visionary director Doug Fitch, he reprises the surrealist opera in semi-staged performances that conclude his NDR Elbphilharmonie season (May 10-13).

Guest engagements in USA, Germany, France, Israel, Japan, and more

Marking his only U.S. appearances of the season, Gilbert returns to the Cleveland Orchestra for Haydn’s “Military” Symphony and Busoni’s Piano Concerto, a monumental rarity that will feature Garrick Ohlsson and a male choir (Feb 7 & 9). Since serving as its Assistant Conductor in the mid-1990s, Gilbert has shared a rapport with the orchestra that “evince[s] levels of comfort and mutual understanding enjoyed only by the initiated” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer).

In Europe, after demonstrating “incredible chemistry” (Sächsische Zeitung Dresden) with the Staatskapelle Dresden last season, he returns to lead Mahler’s First Symphony, the world premiere of a new work by Péter Eötvös, and Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto in season-launching concerts at the orchestra’s home and on tour in Italy and Austria, with Lisa Batiashvili as soloist (Aug 29–Sep 8). He also rejoins a number of the other leading German orchestras with which he has established the most meaningful ties. At the Berlin Philharmonic, whose “musicians have faith in him, letting him unleash his creativity to the fullest” (Berlin Morgenpost), he reunites with Batiashvili for a program pairing the Prokofiev with the European premiere of Metacosmos by award-winning Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir (Jan 24-26). With the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, with which he memorably “blew not just our socks but everything else off” (Independent, UK) at London’s BBC Proms, Gilbert conducts all-Czech programs of Smetana and Dvořák, besides playing viola in the latter’s “American” String Quintet (Nov 15-25). And at Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, he takes the podium for Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony with soprano soloist Renée Fleming, with whom he previously collaborated on the Grammy Award-winning Decca album Poème (July 13).

Other guest engagements see Gilbert give his first performances with the Israel Philharmonic over seven concerts in Tel Aviv and Haifa, for which they are joined by concerto soloists Batiashvili and Barnatan, now playing Rachmaninov’s Second. Other program highlights include Anders Hillborg’s Exquisite Corpse, of which Gilbert is the dedicatee, and Nielsen’s Third Symphony, “Sinfonia espansiva” (Feb 17-27), which is also the vehicle for his upcoming return to Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra (March 30 & 31). The symphony is one that he recorded with the New York Philharmonic; named one of the “Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012” (New York Times), this formed part of “The Nielsen Project,” a long-term initiative recognized as one of the greatest successes of his New York tenure.

Returning to the Vienna Symphony for the first time in ten years, Gilbert leads three all-Czech programs featuring Martinů’s Fourth Symphony and Dvořák’s Piano Concerto with Stephen Hough as soloist (Jan 11-16). With Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, he leads works by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Strauss, Bizet, and Rimsky-Korsakov in concerts bookending a chamber recital of Brahms’s string sextets, for which he once again plays viola (Dec 10-19). At Sweden’s Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he was Music Director for eight years, he conducts an all-French pairing of Debussy and Lili Boulanger (April 3 & 4), and as a regular and favored guest of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, he leads a Hungarian 20th-century program, interspersing works by Ligeti with those of Bartók (March 16).

In the opera house: Dresden and La Scala

Gilbert rounds out his full season with a pair of operas. This fall, he makes his Dresden Semperoper debut leading a new production of Schoenberg’s Moses and Aaron by Calixto Bieito, which stars Sir John Tomlinson and Lance Ryan in the title roles (Sep 29–Oct 15). Then next spring he returns to Milan’s La Scala for a staging of Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt by Graham Vick (May 28–June 17). Already a major player on the opera scene, Gilbert served as music director of Santa Fe Opera, before making his Metropolitan Opera debut with a production of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic that, when released on DVD, scored him his first Grammy Award. His leadership of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin at the Mostly Mozart Festival was chosen as one of the best of 2015 by both New York and the New York Times, which praised the “surging and nuanced performance” he drew from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Last fall, his leadership of a new production of Porgy and Bess at La Scala scored a five-star review in the Financial Times, which marveled: “Has La Scala ever witnessed a conductor having so much fun?

2017-18 highlights

It was last season that Gilbert made his first appearances as Chief Conductor Designate of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, offering “a close-up portrait” of Mahler’s epic Third Symphony that revealed his skills as “a mediator between notes and orchestra” (Abendblatt). Besides touring China with the Staatskapelle Dresden, he returned to the podiums of the Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de Lyon, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, where his leadership of Beethoven’s Ninth prompted the Leipzig Volkgezeit to marvel at “the creativity and technical craft of this great conductor,” for whom “the greatness of human existence manifests itself above all in beauty.” And at the Royal Swedish Opera, he conducted “a ravishing account” (Opera Critic) of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.

Back in the States, he enjoyed a “stellar reunion” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer) with the Cleveland Orchestra; led John Adams’s Scheherazade.2 with Leila Josefowicz and the Boston Symphony, which “played superbly for him” (Boston Globe); and reunited with the New York Philharmonic, both for a Bernstein tribute in which his “magnificent performanceshowed why he’s going to be missed” (New York Times), and for the orchestra’s 175th birthday concert, which he concluded with a traversal of Beethoven’s Fifth that proved “the most spellbinding account of the all-too-familiar masterpiece that this listener ha[d] ever heard” (New York Classical Review).

For high-resolution photos, click here.


Alan Gilbert: 2018-19 engagements

Aug 29–Sep 8: Italian and Austrian tour with Staatskapelle Dresden
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 (with Lisa Batiashvili, violin)
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D
Péter Eötvös: For Luciano Berio (world premiere)
Aug 29 & 30: Dresden, Germany
Sep 4: Merano, Italy
Sep 6: Verona, Italy
Sep 8: Grafenegg, Austria 

Sep 29; Oct 3, 6, 10 & 15
Dresden, Germany
Semperoper Dresden
Schoenberg: Moses und Aron

Oct 11-14: German concerts with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Wagner: Prelude to Act 1 from Lohengrin
Mahler: Adagio from Symphony No. 10
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 (with Inon Barnatan, piano)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 in E
Oct 11: Hamburg, Germany (Beethoven, Bruckner)
Oct 13: Lübeck, Germany (Wagner, Mahler, Bruckner)
Oct 14: Hamburg, Germany (Wagner, Mahler, Bruckner) 

Oct 28–Nov 8: Asian tour with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Wagner: Prelude to Act 1 from Lohengrin
Mahler: Adagio from Symphony No. 10
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58 (with Hélène Grimaud, piano)
Ravel: Concerto in G for Piano and Orchestra (Hélène Grimaud, piano)
Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 in E
Oct 28: Shanghai, China (Beethoven, Bruckner)
Oct 29: Shanghai, China (Beethoven, Brahms)
Nov 1: Kyoto, Japan (Wagner, Beethoven, Brahms)
Nov 2: Tokyo, Japan (Beethoven, Bruckner)
Nov 3: Kamakura, Japan (Wagner, Mahler, Brahms)
Nov 4: Tokyo, Japan (Wagner, Mahler, Brahms)
Nov 5: Tokyo, Japan (Ravel, Bruckner)
Nov 7: Nagoya, Japan (Beethoven, Brahms)
Nov 8: Tokyo, Japan (Wagner, Ravel, Brahms)

Nov 15-25: Concerts with Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Leipzig, Germany
   Nov 15, 16 & 17:
      Dvořák: The Noon Witch, Op. 108
Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 (with Truls Mørk, cello)
Dvořák: Symphony No. 6 in D Op. 60
Nov 22, 23 & 24:
Smetana: Má Vlast, J.B. 1:112
Nov 25:
      Dvořák: String Quintet No. 3 in E-flat, “American” (on second viola)

Dec 10-19: Concerts with Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra
Tokyo, Japan
   Dec 10 & 11:
Mendelssohn: The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)
      Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 38 (“Spring”)
Dec 14:
Brahms: String Sextets Nos. 1 & 2 (on viola)
Dec 18 & 19:
Strauss: Don Quixote, Op. 35
Bizet: Carmen Suite
      Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34

Jan 11-16: Concerts with Vienna Symphony
Vienna, Austria
   Jan 11 & 13:
Dvořák: The Golden Spinning Wheel, Op. 109
Dvořák: Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33 (with Stephen Hough, piano)
Martinů: Symphony No. 4 (Jan 11 only)
Jan 15 & 16:
      Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 (with Gautier Capuçon, cello)
Dvořák: The Noon Witch, Op. 108
Janáček: Sinfonietta

Jan 24-26
Berlin, Germany
Berlin Philharmonic
Anna Thorvaldsdottir: Metacosmos (European Premiere)
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 (with Lisa Batiashvili, violin)
R. Strauss: Sinfonia Domestica

Feb 7 & 9
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Orchestra
Haydn: Symphony No. 100 in G, “Military”
Busoni: Piano Concerto (with Garrick Ohlsson, piano) 

Feb 17-27: Israeli concerts with Israel Philharmonic (debut)
Anders Hillborg: Exquisite Corpse
Weber: “Oberon” Overture
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Inon Barnatan, pianist)
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 (with Lisa Batiashvili, violin)
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9, “New World”
Nielsen: Symphony No. 3, “Sinfonia espansiva,” (with Anastasia Klevan, soprano; Oded Reich, baritone)
Feb 17 & 19: Tel Aviv (Hillborg, Rachmaninov, Nielsen)
Feb 21: Tel Aviv (Weber, Rachmaninov, Dvořák)
Feb 23-24: Tel Aviv (Weber, Prokofiev, Nielsen)
Feb 26: Haifa (Weber, Prokofiev, Nielsen)
Feb 27: Tel Aviv (Weber, Prokofiev, Dvořák)

March 16
Paris, France
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Choir of Radio France
Ligeti: Atmospheres
Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Vikingur Olafsson, piano)
Ligeti: Lux Aeterna
Bartók: Music for strings, celesta and percussion

March 30 & 31
Zurich, Switzerland
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich
Thomas Adès: Three Studies from Couperin
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58 (with Inon Barnatan, piano)
Nielsen: Symphony No. 3 in D minor, Op. 27, “Sinfonia espansiva” (with Christina Landshamer, soprano; Benjamin Appl, baritone)

April 3 & 4
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Debussy: Images
Lili Boulanger: Faust et Hélène

May 10, 12 & 13
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Ligeti: Le Grand Macabre 

May 28–June 17
Milan, Italy
La Scala
Korngold: Die tote Stadt, Op. 12

July 13
Munich, Germany
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Program with Renée Fleming; includes Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 


#          #          #

© 21C Media Group, August 2018

Return to Press Room