Episode #6

Alan Gilbert

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Monday, December 12, 2016

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert (Chris Lee)

Alan Gilbert believes that conducting an orchestra is a process of “letting go together.” When the energy between a conductor and an orchestra is right, he says, it’s almost impossible to tell who’s leading who. After eight seasons at the helm of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert is ready to step down.

In his wake, he leaves a formidable legacy of experimentation that expanded not just what an orchestra can and will do, but who it’s for. Gilbert and Davis sat down in his office to talk about what he means by serving a community, the moments in performance he lives for, and how maybe he could've benefited from throwing tantrums and showing his stress more.

“You have to set something motion that is so inevitable that it goes that way and you don’t have to continue to do anything in order for it to go that way, because that is the only possible way it could go. And then you just follow. But what you’re doing is that you’re following something that you created. You’ve set it in motion and it’s exactly what you want but you don’t have to look as if you’re making it happen as it happens.” —Alan Gilbert on successful conducting

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Hosted by:

Helga Davis

Produced by:

Julia Alsop


Alex Ambrose


Curtis Macdonald

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

I have many comments about this interview. First, Maestro Gilbert's allowing his Julliard conducting students entrance to his New York Philharmonic rehearsals says a lot about his magnanimity. Second, his program-making is usually very provocative and satisfying, often bringing out subtle connections between disparate works, such as solo(s) and ensemble dialogues as exemplified in his program comprising Ives's "The Unanswered Question" and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, (also oncluding Webern's "Symphony" and Robert Schumann's Second Symphony). For me, his Mahler symphony performances I heard on WQXR are a model of clarity and detail. Likewise was the performance of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis". His choice of when to give explanatory lecture was very apt, I thought, before playing Schoenberg's symphonic poem "Pelleas und Melisande". That was a great help to me in following the score. Two of the works I believe he premiered that I hope stand the test of time are Christopher Rouse's "Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra" and Sebastian Carrier's "Time Machines". Was the idea of Artist-in-Residence and Composer-in-Residence Mr. Gilbert's as I think it was? Finally, his comment that it's important to know when not to conduct is one shared by many of the conductors of my parent's and grandparent's generation who, as evidenced by their commercial as well as air-chec recordings, are and remain my favorites.

Dec. 13 2016 04:21 PM

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