New York Philharmonic’s Gilbert on being a music director in difficult times

Posted on: February 9, 2012

On the eve of the New York Philharmonic’s visit to the U.K., Ivan Hewett writes in Thursday’s (2/9) Daily Telegraph (London), “Conductor Alan Gilbert, music director since 2009, remembers the moment the invitation came. ‘I was in a hotel room in Tokyo with my wife, and we’d just managed to get our two kids off to sleep. Then the phone rang, and it was executive director Zarin Mehta offering me the post. It was an offer you hardly dare dream of, but what I actually said was, ‘It’s a really bad moment, can we speak later?’ ’ That story suggests a man with his feet on the ground. … He is the first music director to be New York born and bred, and even has family connections with the Philharmonic: his father used to play with the orchestra, and his mother still does. … The temptation in difficult times is to play safe, and one senses that voices within the orchestra’s management are pressing Gilbert to do just that. But he’s resisting. ‘People want to back a winner, and to become one you have to be bold. … In this city we’re faced with so many competitors for people’s time and money, and we have to project a feeling of belief in what we do. And that means taking risks.’ ”

Posted February 9, 2012