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The Big Entrance
New York Magazine | 15 December 2008

When Alan Gilbert, the New York Philharmonic's music-director-in-waiting, led a free concert in Central Park last summer, he mentioned to the audience that his mother was a member of the violin section. Then, turning back to the orchestra with a little wave, he said, "Hi, Mom," eliciting 60,000 guffaws. (He didn't add that his dad, now retired, had also been a Philharmonic violinist.) Gilbert doesn't take over the Philharmonic until September, but he's already starting to feel like a member of the family. He's been a regular on New York's podiums, leading the Philharmonic, the Met (in Doctor Atomic), the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Juilliard and Curtis student ensembles. He's also lobbed out a few plans for the Phil: a new-music ensemble, a renegotiated balance between contemporary music and traditional repertoire, and the world premiere of a work by composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg; Messiaen's Poèmes pour mi, sung by Renée Fleming; and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. That is not just music for a televised party but a calling card for a conductor with strong tastes and a talent for bringing clarity to sprawling, complex scores.