Hailed for his natural ease and compelling musicianship, James Gaffigan is considered one of the most outstanding American conductors working today. He has attracted international attention for his prowess both as a conductor of symphony orchestras and opera.
Gaffigan is the newly appointed music director of Komische Oper Berlin, a post that begins in the 2023-24 season for four years. He is in his inaugural season as music director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia. He additionally serves as principal guest conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra & Opera, principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and music director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra. In June 2021, he finished his tenure as chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 10 years, raising the orchestra’s international profile with highly successful recordings and tours.
Gaffigan is in high demand with leading orchestras and opera companies throughout North America and Europe. In the 2021-22 season, he leads productions of Manon at Opéra National de Paris, Eugene Onegin and Le nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, Wozzeck at Valencia’s Les Arts, Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre at Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Tristan und Isolde at Santa Fe Opera. In the symphonic realm, he appears with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.
Recent symphonic highlights include appearances with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Tokyo Metropolitan and Seoul Philharmonic.
In North America, Gaffigan works with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
A regular at the Metropolitan Opera and Bavarian State Opera, Gaffigan is equally at home in the opera house and conducts at the Zürich Opera, Vienna State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera.
Gaffigan was the first-prize winner of the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition. In 2009, he completed a three-year tenure as associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, a post created for him by Michael Tilson Thomas. Before that, he was assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, where he worked with Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.
Passionate about music education and a product of New York City public schools, Gaffigan grew up on Staten Island and studied at the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art before pursuing his conducting studies.