It was announced today that Alan Gilbert – now concluding a truly transformative tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic – has been named as the next Chief Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra (formerly known as the NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg). He assumes the role of Chief Conductor designate this fall, and will inaugurate his tenure in the 2019-20 season, succeeding Thomas Hengelbrock as head of the Elbphilharmonie’s orchestra-in-residence.
Lutz Marmor, Director of the NDR, says: “Alan Gilbert stands for the highest quality in music, together with a major zeal for innovation and creativity. We are delighted to have the commitment of a conductor with such a vast international reputation. NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra is well acquainted with Alan Gilbert and has regarded him highly since collaborating with him in the past. Alan Gilbert and the Elbphilharmonie – a perfect fit.”
Alan Gilbert says: “As I wrap up my time at the New York Philharmonic, very little would have tempted me to take on the challenge of a new position so soon. But the perfect confluence of circumstances seems to have come together with the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. First of all, this is a group of musicians that I already know so well and love dearly. The musicians and I have shared a very special rapport and musical chemistry for many years. Furthermore, the environment surrounding the orchestra is uniquely exciting. The Elbphilharmonie is the perfect and already iconic physical space in which to play and present music, and the management team, headed by Achim Dobschall and Sonja Epping of the orchestra and Christoph Lieben-Seutter at the Elbphilharmonie, is the most inspired, ambitious, and forward-looking in the world of music. How rare it is to find a situation in which it is not only possible to imagine pushing the paradigm of orchestras in the 21st century forward, but one in which all constituent groups are demanding that this progress happen. I’m thrilled to have found such a place.”
Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture for the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, says: “In Alan Gilbert, the NDR has appointed someone who is not only a fantastic conductor, but also has an outstanding knowledge of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. Alan Gilbert is a real gain for Hamburg as a musical city. I am positive that he will help to further cement Hamburg’s cultural reputation at home and abroad.”
Joachim Knuth, NDR Radio’s program director, says: “Alan Gilbert is a brilliant musician and ideal Chief Conductor designate. During his successful New York tenure he proved that he can make his artistic and programming impulses and ideas work, even in a highly competitive situation. We worked hard to ensure that his journey would – after eleven years as Principal Guest Conductor – lead him to Hamburg more permanently, and are glad that the road from Hamburg to New York can be travelled in reverse by an artist of his caliber. We at North German Radio have been wishing for this appointment because it promises something great – for NDR and this concert house.”
Achim Dobschall, Manager of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, says: “By comparison with almost every other conductor of our times, Alan Gilbert’s repertoire is unmatched in terms of its scope and stylistic spectrum. He is a fantastic interpreter of the core symphonic repertoire, having at the same time distinguished himself with outstanding 20th-century music projects. When it comes to future collaborations, we are certain to profit enormously from his experiences with other first-rate international orchestras. We are proud to have won Alan Gilbert as Chief Conductor designate for our orchestra. He was not only our candidate of choice but also the orchestra’s favorite candidate to succeed Thomas Hengelbrock.”
Christoph Lieben-Seutter, General and Artistic Director of the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle, says: “In appointing Alan Gilbert as the future Chief Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, NDR has made an outstanding choice. In his time with the New York Philharmonic he designed a number of exciting programs and implemented many great projects. His vision for a 21st-century orchestra is a perfect fit for the Elbphilharmonie and I look forward to witnessing the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra help to shape the hall’s profile under his direction.”
NDR has agreed to a five-year contract with Alan Gilbert, who has had close ties with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra for many years, serving as its Principal Guest Conductor from 2004 to 2015. From 2009 to June 2017, he served as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. During his New York tenure he launched a number of widely acclaimed artistic and programming initiatives and successfully introduced new formats to the stage.
Formerly known as the NDR Symphony Orchestra, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra took its new name to celebrate the opening of the new Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, where it took up residence in January of this year. Already a beloved and defining feature of Hamburg’s skyline, and one of the most acoustically advanced venues in the world, the hall has hosted more than 100,000 concertgoers to date. Gilbert’s next concerts there will be in April 2018, when he looks forward to leading the orchestra in Mahler’s Third Symphony.
Born in New York in 1967, Gilbert has established a reputation as a world-class interpreter with a wide repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music. He is highly sought after as a guest conductor, having appeared with leading international orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He is also the founder of Musicians for Unity, which, with the endorsement and guidance of the United Nations, will bring together musicians from around the world to perform music at critical times in support of peace, development, and human rights, celebrating the power of music to build bridges and unite people across borders.