Musical Conductor

James Gaffigan

Former Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra


James Gaffigan was principal conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra until June 2021, where he played a key role in shaping the orchestra’s profile over the ten years of his tenure, both at home and through successful tours and recordings abroad.

Hailed for his natural ease and compelling musicianship, James Gaffigan is considered one of the most outstanding American conductors working today. He has attracted international attention for his prowess both as a conductor of symphony orchestras and opera.

James Gaffigan is newly appointed Music Director of Komische Oper Berlin, a post that commences from the 2023/2024 season for four seasons. He is in his inaugural season as Music Director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, and he additionally serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra & Opera, Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra. In June 2021, Gaffigan finished his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, a position he held for 10 years where he raised the orchestra’s international profile with highly successful recordings and tours abroad.

Gaffigan is in high demand working with leading orchestras and opera companies throughout North America and Europe. In the 2021/22 season, he leads productions of Manon at Opéra National de Paris, Eugene Onegin and Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, Wozzeck at Valencia’s Les Arts, Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre at Netherlands Radio, and Tristan und Isolde at Santa Fe Opera. Symphonically, he makes conducting appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin and with the Netherlands Radio and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.

Recent symphonic highlights include appearances with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Tokyo Metropolitan and Seoul Philharmonic.

In North America, Gaffigan works with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Los Angeles Philharmonic.

A regular at the Metropolitan Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper, Gaffigan is equally at home in the opera house and conducts at the Zürich Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Staatsoper Hamburg, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera.

James Gaffigan was First Prize winner of the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. In 2009, he completed a three-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, a position created for him by Michael Tilson Thomas. Prior to that, he was Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, where he worked with Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.

Passionate about music education and a product of the New York City public school system, James Gaffigan grew up in Staten Island and studied at the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art before pursuing his conducting studies.

James Gaffigan - Former Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra

‘Americans’ | James Gaffigan, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester

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