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Alan Gilbert Returns to Cleveland Orchestra & Boston Symphony in January, Between Dates with NDR, Berlin Phil & Royal Swedish Opera

Alan Gilbert (photo: Michael Avedon)

(December 2022)— A native New Yorker who served as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic for eight seasons, Grammy-winning conductor Alan Gilbert returns to the States to lead two of America’s foremost orchestras in January. Both collaborations feature the world premieres of major new commissions: he leads the Cleveland Orchestra’s first performances of James Oliverio’s new Timpani Concerto alongside symphonies by Haydn and Nielsen (Jan 5 & 7) before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra to debut a new piano concerto by Justin Dello Joio (Jan 12–14). Now in his fourth season as Chief Conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and his second as Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera, where he has just been named Royal Court Kapellmeister, Gilbert also looks forward to a full winter and spring in Europe. Highlights include the NDR’s televised New Year’s Eve concerts (Dec 30–Jan 1), contemporary music festival (Feb 2–12) and concert performances of Porgy and Bess at the Hamburg International Festival (May 26 & 28); the RSO’s 250th Gala Jubilee (Jan 18–21) and productions of Tosca (March 27 & April 3) and Salome (May 13–June 8); and the conductor’s upcoming returns to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (April 16–27) and Berlin Philharmonic, where he takes part in the orchestra’s 2023 Biennial (Feb 23–25).

January premieres with Cleveland Orchestra and Boston Symphony

Since serving as its Assistant Conductor in the mid-1990s, Gilbert has shared a special rapport with the Cleveland Orchestra that “evince[s] levels of comfort and mutual understanding enjoyed only by the initiated” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer); just last season he led the ensemble in “four resplendent performances, each more brilliant in its way than the last” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer). Now he returns to conduct the orchestra’s world premiere performances of a new Timpani Concerto by Cleveland native James Oliverio, with Principal Timpanist Paul Yancich as soloist. A Cleveland Orchestra commission, the work shares the program with Haydn’s 90th Symphony and Nielsen’s Third, (“Sinfonia espansiva”), of which Gilbert’s New York Philharmonic recording was chosen as Gramophone’s favorite recorded version of the work (Jan 5 & 7).

Next Gilbert rejoins the Boston Symphony for a program of Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps, Stenhammar’s Serenade, Dvořák’s Carnival Overture and the piano concerto Oceans Apart by Justin Dello Joio, a former Classical Recording Foundation “Composer of the Year.” A Boston Symphony commission, the concerto’s world premiere performances will feature its dedicatee, Grammy-winning pianist Garrick Ohlsson, as soloist (Jan 12–14). Gilbert demonstrated his ability to make a convincing case for a new BSO commission at his last collaboration with the orchestra this past April, when he led the first performance of a new work by Bernard Rands. As the Boston Classical Review reported:

“Gilbert drew a vivid musical canvas, drawing out each phrase with a clear vision of what was coming next. The Symphonic Fantasy stands as one of Rands’ most arresting recent achievements, and the audience rewarded its composer with a rousing ovation.”

NDR: New Year’s Eve, Hamburg International Festival & more

Now in his fourth season as Chief Conductor of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Gilbert has already begun to “put Hamburg on the map as a musical center and lead the orchestra into the first rank” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Many of his NDR programs stream live on the orchestra’s app, website and YouTube channel, where their recent performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony was enjoyed live by more than 20 thousand fans around the world. Click here to replay their celebrated performance of Mahler’s Seventh.

Gilbert and the NDR conclude their fall lineup with a festive New Year’s Eve program featuring recent Musical America “Artist of the Year” Julia Bullock, who makes her NDR debut in songs by Gershwin and Margaret Bonds. Also including Gilbert’s leadership of Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin, Ravel’s La valse and Der Rosenkavalier Suite by Richard Strauss, the concert is scheduled not only to stream live on YouTube and the NDR website, but also to air live nationwide in Germany on ARD TV (Dec 30 & 31; Jan 1).

Dedicated to diversifying the NDR’s programming, Gilbert founded “Elbphilharmonie Visions,” the orchestra’s ten-day celebration of 21st-century music. Originally scheduled to debut in 2021, but postponed because of the pandemic, this new biennial festival receives its inaugural edition early next year (Feb 2–12). Gilbert, who curated the festival and looks forward to conducting three of its nine programs, explains:

“Lots of people believe that contemporary music doesn’t speak to them. But the spectrum of contemporary styles is so huge that it’s impossible to make generalizations in this regard. Music is just as rich and diverse as humanity itself.”

His opening-night concert showcases the world premiere of Flügel, a new commission from Sweden’s Lisa Streich, who looks forward to receiving the inaugural Claussen Simon Composition Prize after the performance. Gilbert pairs her work with In This Brief Moment (2020-21) by Grawemeyer Award-winning Australian composer Brett Dean. Featuring soprano Siobhan Stagg, countertenor Patrick Terry, the Hallé Choir and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) Chorus, Dean’s composition is an “evolution cantata” that, as the composer explains, addresses the ways “human life seems to have developed agency over its own future and perhaps even over that of the planet itself” (Feb 2).

Similar environmental concerns inspired Catamorphosis by Iceland’s Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, which Gilbert couples with Let Me Tell You by Denmark’s Hans Abrahamsen for his second appearance in the festival. Chosen by Guardian critics as the finest work of the 21st century, Abrahamsen’s orchestral song cycle will feature soprano Lauren Snouffer (Feb 9). In the festival’s closing concert, Gilbert leads Homunculus by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Scheherazade.2 by John Adams, with Leila Josefowicz as the violin soloist (Feb 12). It was Gilbert who commissioned Adams’s work in his previous role as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, and Josefowicz who joined them for its world premiere, when, as the New York Times reported, she “gave a dazzling and inspired performance, backed by the glittering, rhapsodic and supremely confident playing of the orchestra under Mr. Gilbert.”

The 2023 annual Hamburg International Music Festival brings together some of the world’s leading artists and orchestras in one of its greatest musical cities. This season’s overarching focus is the theme of “Love,” from which both Gilbert’s festival programs draw inspiration. First, he conducts the NDR in Schoenberg’s symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande, a setting of Maeterlinck’s doomed love story, alongside Ligeti’s Apparitions and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, featuring Grammy-winner Augustin Hadelich (May 19 & 20).

Next Gilbert helms the NDR’s two concert performances of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, starring Kevin Short and Adrienne Danrich in the title roles, with Chauncey Packer as Sportin’ Life and Nicole Cabell as Clara (May 26 & 28). Short and Packer both appeared in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent hit production of the opera, while Cabell headlined the English National Opera’s recent staging. As for Gilbert, he and the NDR recently performed in the Lucerne Festival’s first production of the opera. “Playing with bright, exciting bite, the orchestra anchored a performance that took George Gershwin’s ambition seriously,” reported the UK’s Telegraph. “Gilbert … never let the dramatic tension sag yet supported all his singers.” Indeed, the conductor’s leadership of a new Porgy and Bess at La Scala scored a five-star review in the Financial Times, prompting France’s Anaclase to declare: “The great triumphant winner of the evening is Alan Gilbert! His conducting is supple, dancing, tragic, colorful, inventive, lyrical, violent, cheerful, fierce. In a word: alive.”

After a program of Stravinsky, Ravel, Richard Strauss and Lalo, whose Symphonie espagnole will feature young violinist Maria Dueñas (June 23–25) Gilbert and the NDR conclude their season with accounts of Mendelssohn’s beloved oratorio Elijah in Lübeck (July 1 & 2).

Royal Swedish Opera: 250th Jubilee Gala, Tosca, Salome & more

A major player on the opera scene, the conductor is now in his second season as Music Director of the Royal Swedish Opera. Just named Royal Court Kapellmeister, an honorary title conferred by the King of Sweden, Gilbert leads the company in a special anniversary gala, an orchestral program, an opera in concert, and two staged productions later this season.

He and the company launch the new year with a 250th Jubilee Gala to celebrate the two and a half full centuries that have passed since its founding. Showcasing Nina Stemme and other leading Swedish vocalists in arias and ensembles by composers ranging from Beethoven, Verdi and Wagner to contemporary Swedish composers Mats Larsson Gothe and Karin Rehnqvist, the festive event features staged collaborations with the Royal Swedish Ballet and Royal Dramatic Theatre (Jan 18, 20 & 21).

After leading the Royal Swedish Orchestra in a program of Mozart, Dvořák and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir (March 11 & 15), Gilbert helms concert performances of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades starring Grammy-winner Anne Sofie von Otter (March 20–April 6). He then returns for the first of two staged spring productions: Puccini’s Tosca in the late Knut Hendriksen’s acclaimed staging, with Renata Tebaldi International Vocal Competition-winner Christina Nilsson (March 27) and International Opera Award-winner Malin Byström (April 3) taking turns in the title role. Gilbert draws his second RSO season to a close with Richard Strauss’s powerful yet unsettling Salome, starring Elisabet Strid and Łukasz Goliński in the Sofia Jupither production that prompted Sweden’s Expressen to declare: “It doesn’t get any better than this!” (May 13–June 8).

Berlin Philharmonic’s 2023 Biennial

In high demand worldwide, Gilbert also returns to guest conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, whose “musicians have faith in him, letting him unleash his creativity to the fullest” (Berlin Morgenpost). In the orchestra’s 2023 Biennial, which explores the compositional developments of the mid-20th-century, he helms a program of works that engage with music from the past. Boris Blacher takes one of the violin literature’s most famous themes as the point of departure for his jazzy, virtuosic Paganini Variations; Dutilleux reimagines the Baroque concerto grosso in his Second Symphony; and Barber puts an American spin on the Romantic violin concerto in his own contribution to the genre, for which the conductor and orchestra join forces with superstar violinist Joshua Bell (Feb 23–25). An accomplished and dedicated violinist himself, Gilbert completes his Berlin Biennial residency with a late-night performance of Ligeti’s Horn Trio, also featuring Stefan Dohr on French horn and Kirill Gerstein at the piano (Feb 25).

Week of concerts with Royal Stockholm Philharmonic

To complete his 2022-23 lineup, Gilbert leads a week of spring programs with Sweden’s Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, where he serves as Conductor Laureate. They combine Amphitheatre by Australia’s Brett Dean with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements (April 19–21), before performing Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Christina Nilsson, flanked by Unsuk Chin’s Frontispiece and Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony (April 26 & 27). Gilbert also takes up his violin to join members of the orchestra for a chamber program of Beethoven, Louise Farrenc and Brett Dean, with the Australian composer himself on viola (April 16).

Click here for high-resolution photos.

Alan Gilbert: winter and spring engagements

Dec 30 & 31; Jan 1
Hamburg Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
New Year’s Eve concert
GERSHWIN: songs, various (with Julia Bullock, vocalist)
BONDS: songs, various (with Julia Bullock, vocalist)
R. STRAUSS: Der Rosenkavalier Suite
L. BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps
RAVEL: La valse

Jan 5 & 7
Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Orchestra
James OLIVERIO: Timpani Concerto (with Paul Yancich, timpani; world premiere of Cleveland Orchestra commission)
HAYDN: Symphony No. 90
NIELSEN: Symphony No. 3 (“Sinfonia espansiva”)

Jan 12–14
Boston, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra
L. BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps
Justin DELLO JOIO: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Oceans Apart (with Garrick Ohlsson, piano; world premiere of BSO commission)
DVOŘÁK: Carnival Overture

Jan 18, 20 & 21
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Swedish Opera
250th Jubilee Gala
(With Jessica Elevant, Hanna Husáhr & Nina Stemme, sopranos; Ulrika Skarby, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Frank, tenor; Karl-Magnus Fredriksson, baritone; Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal Swedish Orchestra, Royal Swedish Opera Chorus and actors from the Royal Dramatic Theatre)

Feb 2
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Biennial festival: “Elbphilharmonie Visions”
Lisa STREICH: Flügel (world premiere)
Brett DEAN: In This Brief Moment (with Hallé Choir; CBSO Chorus; Siobhan Stagg, soprano; Patrick Terry, countertenor)

Feb 9
Hamburg Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Biennial festival: “Elbphilharmonie Visions”
Anna THORVALDSDÓTTIR: Catamorphosis
Hans ABRAHAMSEN: Let me tell you (with Lauren Snouffer, soprano)

Feb 12
Hamburg Germany
Biennial festival: “Elbphilharmonie Visions”
Esa-Pekka SALONEN: Homunculus
John ADAMS: Scheherazade.2 (with Leila Josefowicz, violin)

Feb 23–25
Berlin, Germany
Berlin Philharmonic
BLACHER: Orchestral variations on a Theme by Paganini
BARBER: Violin Concerto (with Joshua Bell, violin)
DUTILLEUX: Symphony No. 2 (“Le Double”)

Feb 25 (late)
Berlin, Germany
Berlin Philharmonic: “Late Night” chamber concert (on violin)
Ligeti: Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano (with Stefan Dohr, French horn; Kirill Gerstein, piano)

March 11 & 15
Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish Royal Opera
Royal Swedish Orchestra
Anna THORVALDSDÓTTIR: Catamorphosis
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 22 (with Roland Pöntinen, piano)
DVOŘÁK: Symphony 7

March 20, 24, 27 & 30; April 6
Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish Royal Opera
TCHAIKOVSKY: The Queen of Spades (in concert)

March 27 & April 3
Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish Royal Opera

April 16
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra: “Up Close” chamber concert (on violin)
(With Brett Dean, viola; Kajsa William-Olsson, cello; Håkan Ehrén, double bass; Simon Crawford-Phillips, piano)
BEETHOVEN: String Trio No. 5 in C minor, Op. 9, No. 3
Brett DEAN: Imaginary Ballet
FARRENC: Piano Quintet No. 2

April 19–21
     April 19 & 20: Stockholm, Sweden
     April 21: Gothenburg, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Brett DEAN: Amphitheatre
STRAVINSKY: Symphony in Three Movements (except April 19)
BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra

April 26 & 27
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Unsuk CHIN: Frontispiece
R. STRAUSS: Four Last Songs (with Christina Nilsson, soprano)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral’’

May 13, 18 & 31; June 3 & 8
Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Swedish Opera
R. STRAUSS: Salome

May 19 & 20
Hamburg Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Hamburg International Music Festival: “Love”
LIGETI: Apparitions
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto (with Augustin Hadelich, violin)
SCHOENBERG: Pelleas und Melisande

May 26 & 28
Hamburg Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Hamburg International Music Festival: “Love”
GERSHWIN: Porgy and Bess (in concert)

June 23–25
Hamburg Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Open-Air Concerts
R. STRAUSS: Don Juan
LALO: Symphonie espagnole (with Maria Dueñas, violin)
RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso
STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite

July 1 & 2
Lübeck, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra

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© 21C Media Group, December 2022


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