Robertson to Head Juilliard Conducting

Monday, Feb 26, 2018
Juilliard Journal
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Conductor David Robertson
David Robertson conducting the Juilliard Orchestra in 2015

In February Juilliard announced that David Robertson will become director of conducting studies and a distinguished visiting faculty member. While his new role will begin in the fall, Robertson will be here this spring to audition prospective conducting students and, as previously scheduled, conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in its April 2 Carnegie Hall concert.

As part of his new role, Robertson will be the principal teacher for all conducting degree students—three or four per year—and will also teach private lessons and a regular studio class in addition to working with the Lab Orchestra. He’ll also select students to accompany him and assist at some of his major orchestral engagements.

Robertson had previously announced that he will step down next year as conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a position he’s held since 1999; he’s also the artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. A champion of contemporary music, he’s collaborated closely with composers including Pierre Boulez (faculty 1972–75), Luciano Berio (faculty 1965–71), John Adams (honorary degree ’11), and Steve Reich (’61, composition). Robertson, who’s married to pianist Orli Shaham (Pre-College ’93; BCJE ’97) maintains an active global conducting schedule. Later this month he’ll lead the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

In announcing the appointment, Joseph W. Polisi, Juilliard’s president, cited Robertson’s “professional experience and expertise” and said Juilliard will “benefit enormously from his artistry.” He also extolled Robertson’s commitment to educating young musicians, noting that he has worked at the Paris Conservatoire; the Aspen, Tanglewood, and Lucerne festivals; and with the National Youth Orchestra, among many others.

Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean, described Robertson as “one of the most thoughtful, probing, and adventurous musicians in the world” and said Juilliard students would “benefit enormously from his immensely engaging musical curiosity and insight.”

Robertson succeeds Alan Gilbert (Pre-College ’85; MM ’94, orchestral conducting) as head of Juilliard’s conducting program; Gilbert has held the post since September 2011, when he became music director of the New York Philharmonic. Gilbert was recently appointed chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and is now based in Europe, but will return here as his schedule allows, including conducting the Juilliard Orchestra on April 16 in David Geffen Hall. Polisi and Guzelimian both lauded Gilbert’s exceptional work transforming Juilliard’s program and shaping the next generation of eminent conductors.