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Alan Gilbert Extends Contract as Chief Conductor of NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra Through 2029

Alan Gilbert & NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra (photo: Peter Hundert)

(February 2023)— Now in his fourth season as Chief Conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Alan Gilbert has extended his contract with the ensemble through summer 2029. This sets the course for his future with the NDR where, through adventurous programming, outstanding music-making, thought-provoking new festivals and regular online streaming, the Grammy-winning conductor has already begun to “put Hamburg on the map as a musical center and lead the orchestra into the first rank” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

At the prospect of prolonging the collaboration, NDR Director Joachim Knuth comments:

“Alan Gilbert is an extraordinary ambassador and driving force for music. Over the past several years, he has proactively supported the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and wowed audiences with his artistic and programming ideas, his true professionalism, and his friendly leadership style. He will be with us until 2029. This is fantastic news!”

The key to the successful collaboration between Gilbert and the NDR musicians is a special rapport built on mutual trust and a shared musical understanding. Gilbert says:

“It is with great joy that I announce the extension of my partnership with the brilliant musicians of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra until 2029. Making music with this incredible group has been an important part of my musical life since 2001. After more than 20 years together, our relationship is better than ever, and it feels as if we are just getting started!”

His enthusiasm is shared by the members of the orchestra themselves. Speaking for himself and his fellow musicians, board member Torsten Frank explains:

“We musicians at the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra are really looking forward to the next five years with our Chief Conductor Alan Gilbert. We are absolutely convinced that the trust that has grown between us over the years and our mutual understanding of music will help us to achieve even more artistic feats.”

Achim Dobschall, Head of Orchestra, Choir and Concerts at the NDR, agrees:

“This alliance is a success story that, following more than 20 years of close partnership, promises lots of exciting chapters to come. As Chief Conductor, Alan Gilbert plays a crucial and pioneering role in influencing the orchestra’s artistic development. With this long-term commitment until 2029, we can already start referring to the ‘Gilbert era’, as we do to the tenures of [previous incumbents] Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt or Günter Wand.”

NDR Program Director Katja Marx notes:

“An exceptional energy vibrates between Alan Gilbert and his Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. You can hear, see and feel it from the very first note. The chemistry is just right. The ensemble has a unique closeness to its Chief Conductor, which creates a huge sense of confidence. Together they scale new artistic heights.”

Christoph Lieben-Seutter, General Director of Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle and Elbphilharmonie venues, highlights the importance of the German city as a cultural center. He says:

“Alan Gilbert and his orchestra play an important role in shaping the Elbphilharmonie’s artistic profile. Alan’s signature can be clearly recognized: in the programming, in our large-scale joint projects, and especially in the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra’s artistic development. I am really excited about his long-term commitment to our resident orchestra and the continuance of our partnership, which is beneficial for all sides.”

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Alan Gilbert enjoys long and close ties with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, where he served as principal guest conductor from 2004 to 2015, before accepting the position of Chief Conductor in 2019. His continued partnership with the orchestra not only testifies to the level of trust between them, but also to their common goals: like Gilbert, the NDR has its sights set firmly on the future.

To inaugurate his tenure in 2019, Gilbert demonstrated his versatility and breadth in the “Sounds Like Gilbert” festival. During the pandemic lockdowns that followed, he managed to keep a spirit of optimism alive through a wide range of well-received radio, television and streaming projects for German broadcaster NDR, including a concert to celebrate the orchestra’s 75th anniversary. In subsequent seasons he has continued to make his mark. Highlights include semi-staged productions of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, Dvořák’s Rusalka and Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, as well as the introduction of such innovative new festivals as “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey” – a celebration of 20th-century American music rarely programmed in Germany – and “Elbphilharmonie Visions,” a ten-day biennial immersion in today’s new music. Also passionate about supporting up-and-coming musicians, Gilbert has introduced new Associate Artist and Conductor Fellow roles at the NDR.

The conductor previously served from 2009 to 2017 as music director of the New York Philharmonic. A leading exponent of repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music, he is in high demand as a guest of such preeminent international orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and Boston Symphony. He also holds positions as honorary conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he spent eight years as chief conductor, and principal guest conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony.

Gilbert’s work with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra has been documented in numerous live recordings at the Elbphilharmonie. Videos are available on the orchestra’s app, website ( and YouTube channel, where their recent New Year’s Eve concert with Julia Bullock was enjoyed by more than 28 thousand fans around the world.

Click here for high-resolution photos.

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© 21C Media Group, February 2023


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