Press Room

Alan Gilbert’s 2009-10 season

Alan Gilbert begins his
tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in the 2009–10 season,
which launches on Wednesday, September 16 with a concert from Avery Fisher Hall
that will be televised on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center. The program features a new work, EXPO, by the Philharmonic’s new Composer-in-Residence Magnus
Lindberg, commissioned by the Philharmonic for the occasion; superstar soprano
Renée Fleming singing Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi; and Gilbert conducting Berlioz’s Symphonie
.  The opening-night concert will also be
projected live onto Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza, and the public is
invited to a free open rehearsal of the evening’s program conducted by Alan
Gilbert that morning.   Most of Gilbert’s concerts this season
will be with the New York Philharmonic, but he will also return to Europe to
continue his relationship with Hamburg’s NDR Symphony Orchestra, where he has
been principal guest conductor since 2004. He will also be heard this fall on a
new recording from the BIS label conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. 
The recording was made in June 2008 and captures Gilbert’s final
performances as the orchestra’s chief conductor and artistic advisor; at the
time he was also named the orchestra’s conductor laureate.

As well as being one of the
New York Philharmonic’s youngest music directors, the Manhattan-born Gilbert is
the first native New Yorker to hold the post. For his inaugural season he has
introduced a number of new initiatives, including creating a new position of Artist-in-Residence,
to which Thomas Hampson has been appointed this year, as well as naming the new
Composer-in-Residence, Magnus Lindberg. 
An annual three-week festival – this season focusing on the music of
Stravinsky – has also been introduced, as well as CONTACT, the New York Philharmonic’s
new-music series. In other highlights of the 2009-10 season, Gilbert leads the orchestra on Asian Horizons, a major tour of Asia in
October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi; on a European tour in January/February
2010; and in performances of world, U.S., and New York premieres – notably
including a spring performance of Ligeti’s seminal opera Le Grand Macabre, which has never been performed complete in New York.  This season Gilbert also becomes
the first person to hold the newly created William Schuman Chair in Musical
Studies at the Juilliard School, a position that will include coaching,
conducting, and performance master classes.

Highlights of
Gilbert’s 2008–09 season with the New York Philharmonic included the November
14 Bernstein anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall, and a performance with the
Juilliard Orchestra, presented by the Philharmonic, featuring Bernstein’s
Symphony No. 3, Kaddish. In spring 2009 Gilbert conducted the world premiere of Peter
Lieberson’s The World in Flower, a New York Philharmonic commission, and Mahler’s First
Symphony.  Writing about the latter
for the New York Times,
critic Anthony Tommasini observed, “it was a thrill to hear the work performed
with such precision and daring by the Philharmonic under Mr. Gilbert,
conducting from memory. During the blazing episodes in the finale, he drove the
orchestra to frenzied outbursts, all the more terrifying for being executed
with such cool command. The tremendous ovation bodes well for his coming tenure
as the orchestra’s music director.” 
In July 2009 Gilbert led the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
and Free Indoor Concerts and four concerts at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music
Festival in Colorado.  He also
discussed his upcoming season with the orchestra in a July cover story for Gramophone magazine that ran with the headline,
“Alan Gilbert Takes New York”.

Also last
season, Gilbert made his Metropolitan Opera debut, conducting John Adams’s Doctor
– the first time
the company had presented an opera by the great American composer.  New York magazine named the production the top
classical music event of 2008, with critic Justin Davidson observing, “the real
star was the Met orchestra, which under Alan Gilbert sounded like one great
inhaling—the upbeat to the nuclear age.”  In February, Gilbert led the Boston Symphony Orchestra in an
acclaimed performance of Ives’s visionary Fourth Symphony.  Jeremy Eichler reported on the occasion
for the Boston Globe,
noting, “Gilbert chose a spacious pacing
and found clarity and structure within the chaos. He drew a beautifully rich
tone from the strings in the third movement fugue, and traced the broadest of
arcs in the spiritually searching finale. At the very end, the music created
just the desired effect: it seemed to evaporate into a clear night sky.”

In April, Gilbert returned
to the podium of Berlin’s famed Philharmonie, where he led the Berlin
Philharmonic in a program of Dvorak and Martinu.  Berlin’s Morgenpost called Gilbert’s return “a triumph,” with Klaus Geitel, the dean
of Germany’s music critics, giving special praise to Gilbert for his revelatory
performance of Martinu’s Fourth Symphony: “[Gilbert] ripped Bohuslav
Martinu from the perpetual twilight that has been so negligently inflicted upon
him, and with an enlightened performance of the Fourth Symphony demonstrated
the gravitas, greatness and originality of this master.”


Alan Gilbert discusses his
first two programs of the 2009-2010 season in a Q & A posted at his web site:

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© 21C Media Group,
August 2009

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