James Gaffigan is Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Born in New York, he was named first prize winner of the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. He went on to become assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, where he worked under Music Director Franz Welser Möst. From 2006 to 2009, he was associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, a position specially created for him by Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Gaffigan returns to the SFS next season to lead a program of works by Dvořák, Jessie Montgomery, and Wynton Marsalis with violinist Nicola Benedetti.
The 2018-19 season sees his debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, BBC Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, and Melbourne Symphony. He also makes debuts at the Metropolitan Opera leading La Bohème and Dutch National Opera with Porgy and Bess, and he returns to Bavarian State Opera for productions of La Fanciulla del West and Don Giovanni, and to San Francisco Opera for Carmen.
Highlights of previous seasons include his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; and return engagements to the orchestras of New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, and Cincinnati; Finnish Radio Symphony; Munich Philharmonic; and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. He also undertook a tour of Asia with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Gaffigan regularly conducts at major opera houses around the world, with recent appearances leading La Bohème, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, and Le nozze di Figaro at Vienna State Opera; Così fan tutte, La Cenerentola, and Falstaff at the Glyndebourne Festival; La Traviata for Norwegian Opera; Salome for Hamburg Opera; and La Bohème for the Zurich Opera House. He has also recently made debuts at Chicago Lyric Opera for Così fan tutte and at Santa Fe Opera for Ariadne auf Naxos.
Mr. Gaffigan works internationally with many leading orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig and Stuttgart radio orchestras, Vienna Symphony, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle, Czech Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. In North America he has worked with the symphony orchestras of Saint Louis, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Toronto, among others.