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 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 Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, National, Atlanta, Houston, Baltimore, Vancouver, Milwaukee and New World symphonies among others. His US festival engagements include appearances at the Blossom, Aspen, Grand Teton and Grant Park festivals, as well as at the Hollywood Bowl and the Music Academy of the West.
James 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, Vienna Symphony, London and Czech Philharmonics, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tonhalle Orchestra and the Camerata Salzburg among others.
Highlights of his 15/16 season include his debut with the New York Philharmonic; and re-engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, both downtown and at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as with the Toronto, National, Dallas and New World symphonies. Internationally, in addition to his work with the Lucerne Symphony and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, he guest conducts the London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra National de France, Sydney Symphony and Sau Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
Equally at home in the opera house, James Gaffigan made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2011/12 conducting La Boheme, was immediately invited back to conduct Don Giovanni the following season, and returns 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 Boheme. In the summers of 2009 and 2010 he conducted performances of Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival and 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 and a new production of La Cenerentola and led performances of The Marriage of Figaro with the Houston Grand Opera, Salome with the Hamburg Opera, Rigoletto with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and La Traviata with the Norwegian Opera. Future opera project include his debuts with the Bavarian State Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Washington National Opera 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 Dvorak’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, Mr. 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-Moest from 2003 through 2006.
James Gaffigan resides in Lucerne with his wife and their children, Sofia and Liam.