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. Both positions began in summer 2011. As of the start of the 2012/13 season, Gaffigan becomes the first ever Guest Conductor of the Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra. In addition to yearly concerts, this newly created position with the venerable Cologne orchestra will include CD recording projects and opera productions with the Oper Köln.
In the United States, Mr. Gaffigan has guest conducted the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, National, Atlanta, Houston, Baltimore, Vancouver, Milwaukee and New World symphonies among others. During the 2012/2013 season, he returns to the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival, the Toronto, Detroit, New World and Vancouver symphonies, the Juilliard Orchestra and the Grand Teton Music Festival; and makes first appearances at the Grant Park Music Festival in downtown Chicago and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
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 become a sought-after guest conductor throughout Europe, working with prestigious orchestras such as the Munich and Rotterdam Philharmonics, Dresden Staatskappelle, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra Berlin, London and Czech Philharmonics, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tonhalle Orchestra and the Camerata Salzburg among others. He made a highly successful debut with the Sydney Symphony in 2011 and returns to lead that orchestra for two weeks in 2013. Highlights of Mr. Gaffigan's 2012/2013 international season include return visits to the Rotterdam and Munich Philharmonics, first appearances with the RSO Berlin and BBC Symphony and a recording project of the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
James Gaffigan 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 Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival and made his debut at Glyndebourne sharing a production of Cosi fan tutti with Sir Charles Mackerras in spring 2010. He led performances of Marriage of Figaro at the Houston Grand Opera in spring 2011, made his debut at the Vienna State Opera later that year conducting La Boheme and returned to Glyndebourne in spring 2012 for a production of La Cenerentola. In October 2012, he returns to the Vienna State Opera for performances of Don Giovanni.
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, the writer Lee Taylor Gaffigan, and their daughter, Sofia.