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 at the beginning of the 12/13 season, Gaffigan was named the first ever Guest Conductor of Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra.
In the United States, Mr. Gaffigan has guest conducted the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Toronto, 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 become a sought-after guest conductor throughout Europe, working with prestigious orchestras such as the Munich 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 14/15 season include a debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony; return engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Detroit, Dallas, Oregon and Vancouver symphonies; a tour to South American with the Lucerne Symphony; and conducting productions of Carmen at the Music Academy of the West and La Traviata at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo.
James 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, while the second recording for Harmonia Mundi will be an all-Dvorak disc featuring Symphony No. 6 and the American Suite. He is also in the process of recording the complete Prokofiev symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the nine Beethoven symphonies with the Qatar Philharmonic for Naxos and the first Tchaikovsky and second Prokofiev piano concertos with Kirill Gerstein and the DSO Berlin for the Myrios label.
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. 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, returned the following year to conduct performances of Don Giovanni and returned to Glyndebourne in spring 2012 for a new production of La Cenerentola.
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 children, Sofia and Liam.