“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 begin in summer 2011.
Mr. Gaffigan recently completed a three year tenure as Associate Conductor with 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. From 2005 to 2010 Mr Gaffigan was Music Director of CityMusic Cleveland, and is currently its Artistic Advisor. He received The Helen Thompson Award from The League of American Symphonies for his work with CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.
In the United States, Mr. Gaffigan has guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Houston and Baltimore symphonies and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra among others. During the 2009/10 season, he returns to conduct the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom as well as the Toronto, Indianapolis and New World symphonies and makes debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra and the National, Dallas and Detroit symphonies.
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 worked with the Munich Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra in Berlin, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, the Stuttgart and Leipzig Radio Orchestras and the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra among others. During the 2009/10 season, he returns to work with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg and the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne.
Increasingly active as an opera conductor, James Gaffigan made his professional opera debut at the Zurich Opera in June 2005 conducting La Boheme and returned for revival performances of the same production in May 2006. In the summer of 2009 he conducted performances of Don Giovanni at the Aspen Music Festival and during the fall of 2009 he led a production of Falstaff for Glyndebourne on Tour. He returns to Glyndebourne in the summer of 2010 to share a production of Cosi fan tutti with Sir Charles Mackerras as well as to Aspen to lead performances of Marriage of Figaro.
Born in New York City in 1979, Mr. Gaffigan studied at the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Juilliard School Preparatory Division. A graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, he earned his Masters of Music in conducting at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, where he worked with Larry Rachleff.
In the summer of 2000, Mr. Gaffigan was one of eight young conductors chosen by David Zinman to participate as an Academy Conductor in the inaugural year of the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. Two years later he received the Academy's first Robert Harth Conducting Award and the following summer he was selected as one of two conducting fellows to study at the Tanglewood Music Center.
James Gaffigan resides in Brooklyn with his wife, the writer Lee Taylor Gaffigan.