Press Room

Alan Gilbert & NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra Explore “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey” & Celebrate Fifth Anniversary of Their Iconic Hamburg Home; Conductor’s Winter Highlights Also Include World Premiere of Löftet at Royal Swedish Opera & Return to Israel Philharmonic

Alan Gilbert (photo: Peter Hundert)

Now in his third season as Chief Conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Alan Gilbert leads the orchestra in concerts celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Elbphilharmonie, its already iconic new home (Jan 11 & 12); two programs at “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey,” a February festival featuring his acclaimed interpretation of Ives’s Fourth Symphony (Feb 11 & 12); and more. Having recently inaugurated his tenure as Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera, Gilbert returns to the Stockholm house for the last two performances of Wagner’s Die Walküre (Jan 6 & 15), and to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day with the world premiere production of Mats Larsson Gothe’s post-World War II-themed opera Löftet (“The Promise”) (Jan 27). Winter also sees the Grammy-winning conductor join the Israel Philharmonic for a collaboration with Leif Ove Andsnes (March 9–13) and reunite with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (Feb 2 & 3) and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony (March 26 & 27), before making his eagerly anticipated return to the U.S. for dates with the Cleveland Orchestra and Boston Symphony next spring (April 7–16).

NDR: Elbphilharmonie anniversary (Jan 11 & 12), Age of Anxiety – An American Journey (Feb 11 & 12) and more

The NDR takes its full name from the Elbphilharmonie, whose Grand Hall was inaugurated five years ago on January 11, 2017. The building represents a major and transformative new addition to the cultural life of Hamburg, a city long dear to Gilbert’s heart. Anchored by his performances there with the orchestra, over the past half-decade the acoustically superior new venue has presented an extraordinary range of concerts and special events, tripling Hamburg’s number of concertgoers and seeing the historic North German city blossom into one of Europe’s most fertile artistic centers.

Representing the centerpiece of a nine-day festival to mark the fifth anniversary of their new home, Gilbert and the NDR celebrate their commitment to contemporary music with a special gala program on the birthday itself, of music by three of today’s foremost living composers. Designed to showcase the Elbphilharmonie’s spatial possibilities and fully immersive surround sound, this comprises two orchestral fanfares by John Adams, Tromba lontana and the high-octane Short Ride in a Fast Machine; Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Wing on Wing; and Thomas Adès’s recent Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, performed with its dedicatee, Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein, as soloist (Jan 11 & 12). Complete with a dazzling drone display from Holland’s DRIFT duo to light up the Hamburg city sky, the January 11 concert will stream live on Europe’s ARTE television network.

As another high point of his winter with the NDR, Gilbert helms two programs during the orchestra’s six-concert February festival “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey” (Feb 11–20). Named for the W. H. Auden poem that inspired Bernstein’s Second Symphony and characterizes the period as a troubled and restless time, the festival explores a wide panorama of 20th-century American music.

Alongside Barber’s Essay for Orchestra and Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, Gilbert’s first festival program showcases his renowned interpretation of Ives’s visionary Fourth Symphony, a work he considers “the big bang of modern American music” (Feb 11). In his previous position as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Gilbert’s account of the symphony was pronounced “stupendous” by the New Yorker’s Alex Ross, who observed: “Emotion surged through the music. This man can conduct.” Likewise, when Gilbert and the New York orchestra subsequently released a performance of the work on disc, their live recording was named fourth among the “Top 25 Classical Albums of 2013” by Rhapsody, which proclaimed it “one of the finest Ives recordings in recent memory.”

To develop this rich cultural portrait of his homeland, the next day Gilbert combines works by European immigrants Stravinsky and Korngold with Copland’s Third Symphony, in which the traditionally Old-World art form meets the composer’s quintessentially American sound (Feb 12). The soloist in Korngold’s Violin Concerto is former Gramophone Artist of the Year Leonidas Kavakos, whose many previous collaborations with the conductor include serving as the New York Philharmonic’s 2016-17 Artist-in-Residence.

Further information about the “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey,” which also features Gilbert’s fellow American conductor Marin Alsop and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing the Bernstein work that helped inspire the festival’s name, is available here.

For his remaining winter dates with the Hamburg orchestra, Gilbert rings in the New Year with a festive collaboration with charismatic Japanese jazz pianist Makoto Ozone (Dec 30–Jan 1) and reunites with celebrated Chinese pianist Yuja Wang for a program of Liszt and Beethoven (Feb 27).

Royal Swedish Opera: last Walküre dates (Jan 6 & 15) and world premiere of Löftet (Jan 27)

A major player on the opera scene, Gilbert recently began his new appointment as Music Director of Stockholm’s Royal Swedish Opera. As a keen and celebrated Wagnerian, for the first operatic production of his tenure he has been leading Die Walküre, prompting the Svenska Dagbladet (“Swedish Daily News”) to marvel: “Gilbert shows in Die Walküre what an outstanding conductor he is.” Starring Iréne Theorin as Brünnhilde, Greer Grimsley as Wotan and Katarina Dalayman as Fricka in a staging by Staffan Valdemar Holm, the production’s final two dates are on January 6 and 15.

Gilbert’s next engagement at the Swedish house is on January 27, the date designated by the United Nations as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, when he helms the world premiere production of Löftet (“The Promise”) by composer Mats Larsson Gothe. Based on a true story from the family history of Hungarian-born playwright and librettist Susanne Marko, this new opera is set in the aftermath of World War II and depicts the plight of Ava, who – finally liberated from the concentration camp where she was separated from her new husband, Teo – clings to the hope of reuniting with him and recapturing their humanity in a traumatized post-war Europe. Gothe, whose earlier operas include the International Opera Award-nominated Blanche and Marie, explains:

“[Löftet] has an explicit Jewish theme, and I studied Jewish music. … I got the chanting of the synagogues in my bloodstream. … Right at the end there is a moving and uncluttered aria … [that] is the most intimate, beautiful and tender music I have ever written.”

Under Gilbert’s leadership, soprano Hanna Husáhr will create the role of Ava opposite the Teo of award-winning baritone Karl-Magnus Fredriksson in the opera’s premiere production, created in collaboration with the composer by film director Stefan Larsson.

Orchestral dates in Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Tokyo, Cleveland and Boston

After making his Israel Philharmonic debut with a ten-day residency two years ago, Gilbert returns to Tel Aviv for a program combining music by French composers Ravel, Roussel and Lili Boulanger with Schumann’s sole Piano Concerto (March 9–13). For the latter, he and the orchestra will be joined by Leif Ove Andsnes, whom Gilbert considers “a thoughtful, deep artist … [who] has a way of playing with simplicity that is informed by very, very deep emotion.” He and the Norwegian pianist have worked together many times, conjuring “pure magic” (Leipziger Volkskrant) in their performance of the same concerto with Germany’s Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Gilbert’s remaining winter dates include collaborations with two of the orchestras with which he shares especially close ties. As Conductor Laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, he conducts Mahler’s Ninth Symphony (Feb 2 & 3) and a program of Brahms, Gershwin and Bernstein (Feb 17 & 19), before returning to Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, where he serves as Principal Guest Conductor, for a pairing of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony with the Japanese premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos (March 26 & 27). Click here to stream Gilbert’s recent account of Bruckner’s Fourth with the NDR.

Meanwhile American audiences can look forward to seeing the conductor again next spring, when he rejoins the Cleveland Orchestra for Chopin, Debussy, Lili Boulanger and Unsuk Chin, with Emanuel Ax as concerto soloist (April 7–10), and the Boston Symphony for concerts featuring Joshua Bell and the world premiere of a new BSO co-commission from Bernard Rands (April 14–16).

Click here for high-resolution photos.

Alan Gilbert: winter engagements

Dec 30 & 31 2021; Jan 1, 2022
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
DVOŘÁK: Carnival Overture
John ADAMS: The Chairman Dances
GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue (version for piano and orchestra; with Makoto Ozone, piano)
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

Jan 6 & 15
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Swedish Opera
WAGNER: Die Walküre

Jan 11 & 12
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
John ADAMS: Tromba lontana (fanfare for orchestra)
John ADAMS: Short Ride in a Fast Machine (fanfare for orchestra)
Thomas ADÈS: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (with Kirill Gerstein, piano)
Esa-Pekka SALONEN: Wing on Wing (with Anu Komsi and Piia Komsi, sopranos)

Jan 27 & 29; Feb 1, 5, 15 & 24; March 5
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Swedish Opera
Mats Larsson GOTHE: Löftet (“The Promise”) (world premiere)

Feb 2 & 3
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic
MAHLER: Symphony No. 9

Feb 11
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Festival: “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey”
BARBER: Essay for Orchestra, Op. 12
COPLAND: Lincoln Portrait
IVES: Symphony No. 4

Feb 12
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Festival: “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey”
STRAVINSKY: Symphony in Three Movements
KORNGOLD: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (with Leonidas Kavakos, violin)
COPLAND: Symphony No. 3

Feb 17 & 19
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D (with Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, violin)
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
GERSHWIN: An American in Paris

Feb 27
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
BEETHOVEN: “Leonore” Overture No. 3
LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Yuja Wang, piano)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5

March 9, 10, 12 & 13
Tel Aviv, Israel
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
L. BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps
SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto (with Leif Ove Andsnes, piano)
RAVEL: Valse nobles et sentimentales
ROUSSEL: Suite No. 2 from Bacchus et Ariane, Op. 43

March 26 & 27
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra
Anna THORVALDSDOTTIR: Metacosmos (Japanese Premiere)
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7

April 7, 9 & 10
Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Orchestra
L. BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Emanuel Ax, piano)
Unsuk CHIN: Rocaná

April 14–16 (plus open rehearsal: April 14 at 10:30am)
Boston, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Bernard RANDS: Symphonic Fantasy (world premiere of BSO co-commission)
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto (with Joshua Bell, violin)

April 28 & 29
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
HAYDN: The Creation
(with NDR vocal ensemble; Christina Landshamer, soprano; Benjamin Appl, baritone)

May 6 & 8
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
DVOŘÁK: Rusalka

May 19 & 22: Hamburg, Germany
May 20 & 21: Kiel, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Marc NEIKRUG: Symphony No. 4 (world premiere of NDR commission)
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Emanuel Ax, piano)

June 4, 7, 10, 13, 15 & 16
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Swedish Opera
PUCCINI: La fanciulla del West

June 24–26
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
STRAUSS: Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64

July 2 & 3
Hamburg Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Igor Levit, piano)
HINDEMITH: The Harmony of the World

# # #

© 21C Media Group, December 2021


Return to Press Room