James Gaffigan to head Lucerne Symphony Orchestra

Martin Cullingford8th Feb 2010
James Gaffigan, moving to Lucerne (photo: Margaretta K. Mitchell)James Gaffigan, moving to Lucerne (photo: Margaretta K. Mitchell)

James Gaffigan is to take up the role of chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra from the 2011/12 season.

The 30-year-old New York-born musician first conducted Switzerland’s oldest symphony orchestra in 2008, and it was following his return in June last year that the offer was made. He states his aim is to increase the orchestra’s international profile, citing Mariss Jansons’s achievements with the Oslo Philharmonic or Neeme Järvi’s with the Gothenburg Symphony as models to aspire to.

As for repertoire, Gaffigan says: “My overall artistic strategy here will be to provide the essential vitamins that every orchestra needs, in the form of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert as well as developing the orchestra’s core repertoire of Beethoven and Brahms. My initial focus is not going to be on Mahler symphonies or The Rite of Spring; rather, I want to concentrate on creating the versatility of styles required to perform everything from Mozart to Debussy.” Previous chief conductors of the Lucerne Symphony include John Axelrod, Marcello Viotti and Jonathan Nott.

Gaffigan won first prize at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, and recently spent three years as associate conductor with the San Francisco Symphony, where he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas and was artistic director of the orchestra’s Summer in the City festival.

Gaffigan has also recently been named principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, where he will work for four weeks per season, from August 2011.

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