Alan Gilbert is down to play viola

Life is never easy after the New York Philharmonic.

Next Sunday, the former music director will play an underground viola gig in Leipzig.

He’s lucky to have a second string.

Details here.

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        • It would be hard for that to be true of anyone.
          There are plenty of great doctors, lawyers, scientists, economists, etc. out there. There are NOT very many people in this world capable of conducting a top-class orchestra, at a level that would impress the players and managements sufficiently to be invited back.

          Gilbert is soon to take of the Elbphilharmonie and over the coming year has a healthy list of engagements with A-list orchestras and opera houses.

          The naysaying of people on this blog notwithstanding, apparently the folks who know and work with conductors regularly hold him in high regard.

  • Surely he could find a gig directing a youth orchestra – I’ve always thought he could do a fine job at it……

    • He’s principal conductor of the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg, resident orchestra of the Elbphilharmonie. Quite a good post.

    • Dearest NYMike: Alan was a conducting major at Curtis with OW Mueller. He played violin and viola on occasion (orch and chamber) and even subbed regularly with the Phila Orch including on tour. He was never an official student of either violin or viola at Curtis. Yes, he is an accomplished string player.

      • Dear Robert – I stand corrected. That said, I remember a Weill Recital Hall concert of the Gilbert family “Yoko and Friends” during which Alan played viola very well. Sister Jennifer (now Lyon concertmaster) played 1st, Momma Yoko 2nd, Pop Michael (he and I studied with the same teacher) and Alan on viola and Alan Stepansky on cello.

      • You’re probably right. After all, he’d have to be pretty mediocre to get the gigs he’s gotten (& continues to get).

        He’s probably just building a career on his hair & his stunning good looks….


  • Poor, dear, Jasper, it’s probably better for all concerned that you reconcile yourself to the fact that it’s finished growing.

  • AG is alright, nothing flashy, nothing repulsive neither. At the very least, I didn’t mind hearing him with NYPhil and Philly every now and then.

    I cannot say the same about JvZ. I am yet to feel any desire to hear him @ NYPhil.

  • It is interesting how Alan Gilbert, seemingly a nice fellow and a rather thoughtful conductor, engenders so much vitriol on SD. OK, he probably doesn’t conduct Verdi like Toscanini, Beethoven like Furtwangler, Ravel like Munch, Shostakovich like Mravinsky, Mahler like Walter, Strauss like Kempe, or Wagner like Knappertsbusch, but he made the NY Philharmonic relevant in a way that many seemingly more distinguished conductors failed to do. And many of the world’s top orchestras seem ready to book him.

    And props to him for keeping up his violin/viola chops, which after all was the point of this item.

    • Those top orchestras might be looking to sell tickets to the vast throngs of mediocrity-loving ticket buyers out there, of course.

      I’m not a big AG fan, but just because his performances (the few I’ve seen) don’t usually excite me doesn’t mean he’s mediocre, just maybe not to my taste. The Wiener Philharmoniker hires Eschenbach again and again, even though some of us here don’t like him, and he’s probably not the only conductor who would return their calls… If the musicians and managements who hire such “mediocrities” are satisfied with the results they obtain musically and economically, it is difficult to make a compelling argument they should do otherwise.

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