Alec Baldwin talks with New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert… (© 2011 Chris Lee )
“He crushed it.”
Of all the people I spoke to about Alan Gilbert, the 45-year-old conductor who’s leading the New York Philharmonic on a West Coast Tour this week, that line stood out as the most emphatic endorsement. It came from actor Alec Baldwin, who has long been a fan and patron of the 170-year-old orchestra.
In an article for Sunday’s Arts & Books section, I spoke with Gilbert and a number of members of the orchestra, but after my deadline and following a performance of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony on Wednesday night, Baldwin (an avowed Mahlerian) spoke candidly about Gilbert’s tenure.
“Look, any conductor who plays with these guys, it’s going to be good. People will be appreciative and respectful. But that doesn’t mean it always catches fire,” Baldwin said. “What make this current thing fizzy is that it’s a battery of two: the orchestra and Alan, and Alan with them. That’s what people are excited about.”
Baldwin, who in addition to his film and television work is the host of the New York Philharmonic’s Radio Broadcasts, recounted: “After Alan’s first year, I think people were content. Remember, it was a bold choice to choose him; he was relatively young. So after his first season, there were some great concerts and they did some nice stuff in the park. People were content. But it was at the opening night concert of his second season, he came in and man, he crushed it.
"It was like, OK, this is Alan’s house now.”
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