By Tim Page
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The New York Philharmonic, an organization that has been much criticized for its conservatism over the past three decades, is set to shake up the musical world with the appointment of a young American maestro as its next music director at a news conference today.
Alan Gilbert, 40, the son of two Philharmonic musicians, will become the first native New Yorker to take the job in the orchestra's 165-year history, beginning with the 2009-2010 season, the New York Times reported yesterday on its Web site. Riccardo Muti, 65 -- the Philharmonic's original choice for music director -- will become principal guest conductor.
The announcement will be made today at a news conference at Lincoln Center. Gilbert will replace Lorin Maazel, who has been music director since 2002 and who has two years left on his contract.
Gilbert's mother, Yoko Takebe, is a violinist in the orchestra; his father, Michael Gilbert, also a violinist, retired in 2001. Alan Gilbert's contract will run for five years and calls for 12 weeks of concerts a season.
He will be the first American conductor to take on the music directorship in the country's oldest orchestra since Leonard Bernstein was appointed some 50 years ago.
Gilbert has been chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra since 2000. He has a conducting degree from the Juilliard School, having studied there with Otto-Werner Mueller, and has appeared with several major orchestras.
Gilbert made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2001 and has since conducted the orchestra in 31 concerts.
"What I hope to do with the Philharmonic is continue to bank on the amazing abilities of the players," Gilbert told the Times, "but also think about ways of working together, playing together, listening together, having a flexibility that happens in the moment and causes people to really listen in a fresh way."