Recognized worldwide for his natural ease and extraordinary collaborative spirit, American conductor James Gaffigan has attracted international attention for his equitable prowess as both a conductor of symphony orchestras and opera. The mutual trust he builds with artists empowers them to cultivate the highest art possible.
Gaffigan is uniquely positioned with music directorships at two international opera houses. He is the general music director of Komische Oper Berlin, a post that commences in 2023-2024, and is in his third season as music director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, where he led widely acclaimed productions of Wozzeck, La Bohème and Tristan und Isolde. He additionally serves as music director of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra, where he champions the education of promising young musicians.
The 2022-23 season marked Gaffigan’s final one as principal guest conductor of both the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra & Opera. In 2021, Gaffigan finished his tenure as chief conductor of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, a position he held for 10 years, where he raised the orchestra’s international profile with highly successful recordings and tours abroad
Gaffigan is in high demand with leading orchestras and opera companies throughout North America and Europe. In 2023-24, he returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony, where he leads a concert production of Cavalleria rusticana. In summer 2023, Gaffigan leads the Metropolitan Opera in its production of La Bohème, as well as the Orchestra de Paris with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra.
In his first season as general music director of the Komische Oper Berlin, Gaffigan will lead productions of Eugene Onegin, The Golden Cockerel, Der Fliegende Holländer and Le Nozze di Figaro. Committed to building and investing in young audiences, and presenting unflinchingly relevant and inclusive programming, Gaffigan will also lead Komische Oper in special programming for children throughout the season.
Passionate about music education and a product of the New York City public school system, Gaffigan believes that access to music education is the method by which America’s concert halls will finally begin to reflect our community and shrink the racial and gender gaps that currently exist in performing arts today.
Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.