Hailed for his natural ease and compelling musicianship, James Gaffigan is considered one of the most outstanding American conductors working today. He’s attracted international attention for his prowess as a conductor of both symphony orchestras and opera.
Recently, Mr. Gaffigan became the newly appointed music director of the Komische Oper Berlin, a post he begins in the 2023–24 season. He’s currently in his inaugural season as music director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain, and he also serves as principal guest conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Opera in Norway, principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and music director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra. In June 2021, he finished his 10-year tenure as chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, during which time he raised the orchestra’s international profile with highly successful recordings and tours.
Mr. Gaffigan is in high demand among Europe and North America’s leading orchestras and opera companies. In the 2021–22 season, he leads productions of Massenet’s Manon at Opéra National de Paris, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at The Metropolitan Opera, Berg’s Wozzeck at Valencia’s Les Arts, Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at The Santa Fe Opera. He also makes conducting appearances with the Chicago, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Trondheim symphony orchestras; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
Recent symphonic highlights include appearances with the London, Vienna, Bavarian Radio, and Tokyo Metropolitan symphony orchestras; London, Munich, Rotterdam, and Seoul philharmonic orchestras; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Staatskapelle Dresden; Orchestre de Paris; Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg; and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In North America, Mr. Gaffigan works with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras; and Chicago, San Francisco, National, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Toronto, and Montreal symphony orchestras. A regular at The Metropolitan Opera and Bavarian State Opera, he’s equally at home in the opera house and conducts at the Zurich, Santa Fe, Dutch National, Vienna State, and Hamburg State operas; the Glyndebourne Festival; and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
James Gaffigan grew up in Staten Island and is a product of the New York City public school system. He studied at the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art before pursuing his conducting studies, and he’s passionate about the importance of music education. In 2004, he was the first-prize winner of the 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 then-Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Prior to that, he was assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, where he worked with Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.