The American conductor and violinist, Alan Gilbert, was born in New York City. His father, Michael Gilbert, retired as a violinist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001. His mother, Yoko Takebe still plays violin with New York Philharmonic Orchestra ensembles. He received his early music education, including lessons on the violin and viola, from his parents. Growing up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Gilbert attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, where he was a track star. As a youth, he learned the violin, viola, and piano. In the 1980's he studied music at Harvard University, where he was music director of the Harvard Bach Society Orchestra in 1988-1989. While in Boston, Gilbert also studied with violinist Masuko Ushioda at the New England Conservatory of Music. After obtaining his degree at Harvard University in 1989, Gilbert studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School of Music in New York with Otto-Werner Mueller, receiving his Master of Music degree in music in 1994. In 1994, he won the Georg Solti prize, which garnered him a week's private tutoring with maestro Georg Solti. Also in 1994, Gilbert won first prize at the International Competition for Musical Performance in Geneva.
During 1995-1997, Alan Gilbert was an Assistant Conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1997, he won the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award. In 2000 Gilbert became the Chief Conductor (Music Director) and artistic adviser of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held until 2008. It was in Stockholm that he developed a reputation for venturesome programming, which included festivals devoted to such living composers as Henri Dutilleux, Hans Werner Henze, and John Adams. In addition, with that orchestra he recorded music by Daniel Börtz and Christopher Rouse. During his tenure he also led concert performances of several operas: Klas Torstensson's The Expedition, Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, R. Wagner's Die Walküre Act 1, and Das Rheingold. He is now Conductor Laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2004 Gilbert became the Principal Guest Conductor of the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg. During this period he also conducted a number of other major orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and orchestras in Japan and China. As an orchestra conductor, Gilber is known for programming contemporary music along with the traditional repertoire and for his ability to communicate with and engage audiences.
Alan Gilbert's long association with Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico dates back to 1993, when he served as the orchestra's assistant concert-master. Prior to that, both of Gilbert's parents played in the opera's orchestra, and his father served as concertmaster for a number of years. In 2001, Gilbert conducted his first Santa Fe Opera production, Verdi's Falstaff. In 2003, he became Santa Fe Opera's first Music Director. His initial contract concluded at the end of the 2006 season. In November 2006, it was reported that Gilbert was to be on "official sabbatical from June through August 2007" to spend more time with his family In May 2007, Santa Fe Opera announced that Gilbert had officially concluded his tenure as their Music Director. He made his Metropolitan Opera in New York City conducting debut in November 2008 with John Adams' new opera, Doctor Atomic. Gilbert also conducted at other such major houses as the Los Angeles Opera, Zürich Oper, Wiener Staatsoper and Royal Swedish Opera. He has conducted repertoire including Carmen, Eugene Onegin, Falstaff, and Peter Grimes among other works.
Alan Gilbert first conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001, and he led the orchestra on many subsequent occasions before his appointment in 2007 as the 25th Music Director. When he officially assumed the post two years later, he became, at age 42, one of the youngest music directors in the orchestraís history and the first native New Yorker to hold the position. He made his debut performance as the orchestra's Music Director on September 16, 2009. Gilbert is a conductor who has built much of his reputation conducting contemporary and American music, and his appointment by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra marked somewhat of a shift by the orchestra away from his more conservative predecessors Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, and Zubin Mehta. Gilbert has widened the artistic reach of the 172-year-old institution. For his inaugural 2009-2010 New York Philharmonic Orchestra season, Gilbert introduced a number of new initiatives, including the presence of Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg and Artist-in-Residence Thomas Hampson. Artist-in-Residence in 2014-2015 season are violinist Lisa Batiashvili and pianist Inon Barnatan. Semi-staged productions of Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, Janácek's Cunning Little Vixen, and I. Stravinsky's Petrushka have been presented to critical acclaim and capacity audiences. Gilbert also encouraged the development of two series devoted to contemporary music, CONTACT! devoted to premiering new scores, and the New York Philharmonic Biennial, a curatorial approach to exploring a wide range of contemporary and modern composers, inaugurated in spring of 2014. The tours he has introduced include a major tour of Asia and the Middle East in October 2009, with debuts in Hanoi and Abu Dhabi. Gilbert has led the orchestra in performances of several world, USA, and New York premieres. Gilbert plans to leave the Philharmonic in 2017, ahead of the major renovation planned for Avery Fisher Hall.
Simultaneously to New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Alan Gelbert maintains a major international presence, making regular guest appearances with orchestras including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France., where he served as Music Director for eight years, and this season marks his tenth anniversary as Principal Guest Conductor of the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg.
Alan Gilbert opens the 2014-2015 season with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, where he replaces the orchestraís indisposed Music Director, Riccardo Chailly, in season-opening concerts and on tour at the Lucerne Festival, Musikfest Berlin, and Londonís BBC Proms. Other guest engagements this season include guest weeks with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Münchner Philharmoniker, and the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, as well as returns to the Metropolitan Opera, where he will conduct W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni with Peter Mattei in the title role, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he gives that organizationís first-ever performances of Janácek's Glagolitic Mass.
With the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Alan Gilbert conducts programs including a pairing of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 with the USA. premiere of Unsuk Chinís Clarinet Concerto; La Dolce Vita: Music of Italian Cinema featuring Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, and Josh Groban; Verdiís Requiem; a staging of Arthur Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher featuring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard; and an evening with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. He concludes The Nielsen Project - the multi-year initiative to perform and record the Danish composerís symphonies and concertos, the first release of which was named by the New York Times as among the Best Classical Music Recordings of 2012 - and presides over a tour of major European cities.
Alan Gilbert is also the first person to hold the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at the Juilliard School. The position includes coaching, conducting, and performance master-classes, and Gilbert assumed the post in the fall of 2009. In 2011 he was named director of the schoolís Conducting and Orchestral Studies.
Alan Gilbert's DVD of John Adamsís Doctor Atomic received a Grammy Award. Renée Fleming's recent Decca recording "Poèmes", on which he conducted, received a 2013 Grammy Award. His recordings have also received top honors from the Chicago Tribune and Gramophone Magazine. In May 2010 Gilbert received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music, and in December 2011 Columbia Universityís Ditson Conductorís Award for his ďexceptional commitment to the performance of works by American composers and to contemporary music.Ē In 2014 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
In 2002, Alan Gilbert married Swedish cellist Kajsa William-Olsson, a member of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. They live in New York's Upper West Side with their three children, Lia, Noemi, and Esra.