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James Gaffigan (conductor)

James Gaffigan (born 1979, New York City) is an American conductor. His father, Dennis Gaffigan, was a salesman for Procter & Gamble, and his mother, Cheryl Gaffigan, was a school secretary.[1][2] Gaffigan was a student at the LaGuardia High School and the Juilliard School Preparatory Division.[3]

Gaffigan studied music at the New England Conservatory of Music and subsequently at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, where his teachers included Larry Rachleff. He earned a Master's degree from the Shepherd School in 2003.[4] He subsequently developed an interest in conducting, and studied at the American Academy of Conducting of the Aspen Music Festival and School, where his teachers included David Zinman and Murry Sidlin. He was a conducting fellow at Tanglewood in 2003. In 2004, he was a first-prize recipient at the Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition in Germany.

Gaffigan was assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra from 2003 to 2006. During this period in Cleveland, he also served as music director of the CityMusic Cleveland chamber orchestra from 2005-2010.[5] He then was associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony from 2006 to 2009, during which time he served as artistic director of the orchestra's 'Summer in the City' festival.

In Europe, Gaffigan first guest-conducted the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in 2008. He returned for a second guest-conducting appearance in June 2009. In January 2010, the orchestra named him its next chief conductor, effective with the 2011-2012 season.[6] In June 2015, his Lucerne contract was extended through the 2021-2022 season.[7] With the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Gaffigan has commercially recorded music of Antonín Dvořák and of Wolfgang Rihm for harmonia mundi.[8][9] In parallel with the announcement of his Lucerne appointment, Gaffigan was named principal guest conductor of the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (RFO), with a contract for 4 weeks of concerts per season, effective August 2011. In September 2013, he became principal guest conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, the first principal guest conductor in the orchestra’s history. In August 2019, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra announced that Gaffigan is to conclude his chief conductorship of the orchestra at the close of the 2020-2021 season,[10] following Gaffigan's decision to vacate the Lucerne post one year earlier than the time of his most recent contract announcement.


  1. ^ "Lee Taylor, James Gaffigan". New York Times. 2008-06-15. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  2. ^ Tom Strini (2012-04-05). "This Week At The MSO: Conductor James Gaffigan". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  3. ^ Tom Keogh (2010-03-10). "Guest conductor James Gaffigan is much-traveled, much in demand". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  4. ^ Steven Brown (2014-02-21). "James Gaffigan strives for balanced approach". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  5. ^ Joshua Kosman (2005-11-02). "New associate conductor for Symphony". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  6. ^ Martin Cullingford (2010-02-08). "James Gaffigan to head Lucerne Symphony Orchestra". Gramophone. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  7. ^ "LSO verlängert den Vertrag mit Chefdirigenten". Neue Luzerner Zeitung. 2015-06-19. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  8. ^ Andrew Clements (2013-04-25). "Rihm: Symphonie Nähe Fern – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  9. ^ Fiona Maddocks (2014-10-04). "Dvorák: Symphony No 6, American Suite Op 96b CD review – warm, subtle, pin-sharp". The Observer. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  10. ^ Urs Mattenberger (13 August 2019). "Gaffigan gibt Dirigentenstab des Luzerner Sinfonieorchesters ab". Luzerner Zeitung. Retrieved 2019-11-24.

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