Within the last week there’s been both sad news and happy news from the world of American classical music.
The sad news is also tinged with an element of shock. Earlier this week, tenor Jerry Hadley died in a hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY. You can find out more about it here.
Part of what makes this untimely loss both tragic and upsetting is that Hadley died from injuries caused by his own hand. His final years were plagued by a series of personal and professional disappointments which stood in stark contrast to the sunny vitality of his much admired voice.
But even as one figure passes from the musical stage, another enters with the promise of a wonderful career. The New York Philharmonic announced the successor to music director Loren Maazel. It’ll be 40 year old Alan Gilbert. You can learn about Gilbert’s background .
He has a lot going for him, including the fact that both of his parents were orchestra members at one time, and that he was born and raised in the city. Despite its standing as an international institution, the New York Philharmonic is the Big Apple’s own orchestra, and it means a lot to music lovers in the city that this will be the Philharmonic’s first hometown music director. It’s also exciting to see the wave of youthful, American conductors taking up the baton – literally and figuratively – passed by a generation of aging Europeans. It’s an all too rare sign of hope and optimism in a field too often brought down by predictions of doom and gloom.
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Alan Gilbert was a former Cleveland Orchestra assistant, hired by Christoph von Dohnanyi.
Gilbert will also be principal guest conductor of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg where Dohnanyi is principal conductor.
Gilbert’s commanding leadership were evident as he served as assistant at Severance Hall. He returned twice as guest conductor, in 2004 and 2006, to lead authoritative performances.