Hailed for the natural ease of his conducting and the compelling insight of his musicianship, James Gaffigan continues to attract international attention and is considered by many to be the most outstanding young American conductor working today. In January 2010 he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and he recently concluded his tenure as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne.
In addition to these titled positions, Mr. Gaffigan is in high demand to work with the leading orchestras and opera houses throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In the United States Mr. Gaffigan has guest conducted the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, National, Dallas, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore and Milwaukee symphonies, among others. His U.S. festival engagements include appearances at the Blossom, Grand Teton and Grant Park festivals as well as at the Hollywood Bowl.
Mr. Gaffigan’s international career was launched when he was named a first prize winner at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, Germany. Since then he has appeared with prestigious orchestras such as the Munich, London and Rotterdam Philharmonics, London Symphony, Dresden Staatskappelle, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Vienna Symphony, London and Czech Philharmonics, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Sydney Symphony, among others.
Highlights of his 2016-17 season include re-engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as with the San Francisco, Detroit, Houston, New World, Vancouver and San Diego symphonies and return appearances at the Aspen Music Festival and Music Academy of the West. Internationally, in addition to his work with the Lucerne Symphony and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, he guest conducts the Oslo Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony in London.
Equally at home in the opera house, James Gaffigan made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2011-12 conducting La bohème, was immediately invited back to conduct Don Giovanni the following season, and returned once again in the fall of 2015 for performances of The Marriage of Figaro. He made his professional opera debut at the Zurich Opera in June 2005 conducting La bohème. In the summers of 2009 and 2010 he conducted performances of Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival, and he made his debut at Glyndebourne sharing a production of Cosi fan tutti with the late Sir Charles Mackerras. Since then he has returned to Glyndebourne leading performances of Falstaff as well as a new production of La Cenerentola, and he led performances of Don Giovanni at the Bavarian State Opera, The Marriage of Figaro with the Houston Grand Opera, Salome with the Hamburg Opera, Rigoletto and Rusalka with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and La traviata with the Norwegian Opera. He made his debut with the Washington National Opera in September 2016 conducting a production of The Marriage of Figaro and future opera projects include his debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Santa Fe Opera.
Mr. Gaffigan’s first recording with the Lucerne Symphony for Harmonia Mundi, an all-Wolfgang Rihm disc, received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, as did his second recording with Lucerne of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 and the America Suite, also for Harmonia Mundi. He is in the process of recording the complete Prokofiev symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, and his most recent recording is the first Tchaikovsky and second Prokofiev piano concertos with Kirill Gerstein and the DSO Berlin for the Myrios label.
Born in New York City in 1979, James Gaffigan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, where he earned his Masters of Music in conducting. He was also chosen to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School and was a conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. In 2009 Mr. Gaffigan completed a three year tenure as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony where he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas, led subscription concerts and was Artistic Director of the orchestra’s Summer in the City festival. Prior to that appointment, he was the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra where he worked under Music Director Franz Welser-Möst from 2003 through 2006.