New York Philharmonic seeks new conductor

New York Philharmonic seeks new conductor


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2015

Alan Gilbert will step down in mid-2017, after eight years in the job. The official release says he has timed his departure to coincide with the renovation of Lincoln Center, allowing the next chief to start in 2019 with a clean sheet.

Gilbert has brightened up the NY Phil’s repertoire, maintained high playing standards and formed strong relationships across the music world, especially in China. Critics fault him for a lack of sparkling finish – for the gloss that only great charisma can bring. But he was by no means  lacklustre, and he will be remembered more fondly than one or two of his recent predecessors. Matthew Van Besien, the orch’s president, has told leading supporters that ‘Alan has changed the orchestra’s DNA’.

A bold claim, but who’s next?

Berlin will expect to claim the most desirable conducting scalp in May. Will that leave New York scrabbling for seconds?


So who’s next? Click here.


  • Michael Schaffer says:

    I have seen him conduct live only once, in NY at Avery Fisher Hall (unfortunately) with the NYP in Scheherazade and it was an excellent performance. Gilbert led the orchestra through a very engaged and musically detailed performance. Maybe he as a person may lack “charisma”, but I don’t really care about that when I am listening to a performance on that level…

  • shenyeh says:

    “Critics fault him for a lack of sparkling finish – for the gloss that only great charisma can bring”. Who are these shallow critics? Give me a break.

    • Daniel Farber says:

      I believe that phrase was NL’s “gloss” on what he thinks the critics have said. At least It is not anything I have read in the NY Times. Gilbert has been highly praised for his innovative repertory, for his espousal of living composers, and for the top-of-the-line performing standards of the orchestra. He has been faulted to some extent for a lack of clear commitment to interpretive choices when he conducts works of the 19th-century “standard repertory”. The overall assessment–including the overall positive takeaway–is,to my ears, warranted. I will miss him. The NY Philharmonic management is to be commended for taking a chance on someone who was not a “brand-name”, but if they go with golden-boy Dudamel now I, for one, will be very disappointed.

  • Martin Bernheimer says:

    Gilbert is a splendid conductor. Period.

  • Herrera says:

    Gilbert is fine. He’s just not spectacular. NY expects spectacular. NY needs spectacular. NY deserves spectacular. Everyone knows he got the job because Muti said no, and Barenboim said no.

  • MacroV says:

    I understand where Gilbert is coming from, but I always thought he’d be the ideal person to lead the Philharmonic through the transition to a new hall, when they’ll be out of Fisher Hall for two years and most likely have to play other New York venues (and maybe tour a lot more?). His innovative opera productions, and the Armory concerts, etc., represented the kind of creative thinking that we need in the music world. In all those respects, he has been the epitome of of what a modern music director should be. If he’s not as compelling an interpreter of Mahler as Riccardo Chailly or of Bruckner as Herbert Bloomstedt, give him another 25 years and he’ll be there.

  • Mrs. Etherington says:

    Alan Gilbert has been terrific. I for one will make the most of these next 18 or so months to listen to and experience as much as I can of him conducting the NYP before he steps down. ‘Daunting’ is how I imagine his job, filling the shoes of Bernstein and others; daunting x 10 is what that job with the added objective of leading NYP through ‘the transition.’ On the topic of transition, disruptive technology has disrupted all of our jobs and it hurts to see the effect on a classy, historic and classical organization like NYP, particularly the extremely shortened attention span and cultural loss of discipline. Mr. Gilbert has done and continues to do a wonderful job. I will happily follow him wherever he goes online.