Alasdair Neale is the Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and also holds the Music Director positions of the Sun Valley Music Festival (SVMF).
Neale began his appointment with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 2019-2020 season. His appointment came after an extensive international search and marked for him a return to the city where he lived, studied and began his professional career more than 30 years ago.
Neale’s tenure as music director began with a year-long “listening tour” in New Haven, opening the conversation to what an orchestra for New Haven in the 21st Century could be. His first concert with the orchestra was a free program on the New Haven Green in June 2019 with guest artists from St. Luke’s Steel Band and Tiempo Libre.
Although his first season was cut short by the Covid-19 surge, he was instrumental in facilitating the pivot of artistic and financial resources to create an extensive array of virtual education programs used by tens of thousands of students worldwide during the pandemic. Without access to traditional concert venues, he helped the orchestra program and perform concerts for free at outdoor locations across the city, including parks, storefronts, and the tremendously popular Concerts at Canal Dock Boathouse series.
This past summer, Mr. Neale celebrated twenty-five years at the helm of the Sun Valley Music Festival (formerly Sun Valley Summer Symphony). As Music Director of the SVMF, Mr. Neale has propelled this festival to national status: it is now the largest privately funded free admission symphony in America. Among the many celebrated guest artists that Mr. Neale has brought to this festival are: Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
As Music Director of the Marin Symphony since 2001, Mr. Neale has been hailed for invigorating the orchestra and establishing it as one of the finest in the Bay Area. Under Mr. Neale’s direction, the Marin Symphony was chosen as one of several distinguished orchestras to participate in Magnum Opus, a groundbreaking, decade-long commissioning project bringing new music to the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Osvaldo Golijov, Kevin Puts, Kenji Bunch, David Carlson, and Avner Dorman were among the composers represented in the project.
Mr. Neale’s appointment with the Marin Symphony followed 12 years as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. During that time he conducted both orchestras in hundreds of critically acclaimed concerts both here and abroad. Under Mr. Neale’s direction, the Youth Orchestra became one of the finest young ensembles in the world, receiving consistent rave reviews for performances in San Francisco, as well as on tour in Amsterdam, Leipzig, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Vienna.
From 2001 to 2011, Mr. Neale served as Principal Guest Conductor of the New World Symphony. From 2001 to 2014, he served on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has guest conducted numerous orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Seattle Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Honolulu Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Nashville Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Florida Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Sydney Symphony, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, l’Orchestre Métropolitan du Grand-Montréal, Radio Sinfonie Orchester Stuttgart, Auckland Philharmonia, Orchestra of St. Gallen (Switzerland), MDR Leipzig, NDR Hannover, Trondheim Symphony, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, and at the Aspen Music Festival. In March 2002, he collaborated with director Peter Sellars and composer John Adams to open the Adelaide Festival with a production of the oratorio El Niño.
Mr. Neale’s discography includes a recording of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Colored Field with the San Francisco Symphony, featuring English horn player Julie Ann Giacobassi which won France’s Diapason d’or award following its release. He may also be heard on New World Records conducting the ensemble Solisti New York in a recording of new flute concertos. Alasdair Neale appears on the Bay Brass recording “Sound the Bells”, released in March 2011 on the Harmonia Mundi label and nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Small Ensemble Performance.
Alasdair Neale holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University and a Master’s from Yale University, where his principal teacher was Otto-Werner Mueller. He lives in San Francisco and New Haven.
As a sought after guest conductor, Chelsea has appeared with numerous major orchestras in the U.S., including Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Houston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Jersey, Nashville, Hilton Head, and San Antonio, as well as the Brooklyn, Louisiana, and Rochester Philharmonics, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana (Palermo) among others. During the summer of 2011 he was part of an extensive European tour with pop artist Sting that took him to 15 countries and to work with 19 different European orchestras. He prepared the orchestras for the concerts and performed with Sting in concert in the Canary Islands, Granada, and Cap Roig Spain. Chelsea recently conducted the Sphinx Competition Showcase gala concert at Carnegie Hall, which was the culmination of a ten city tour with that orchestra. He was a last minute replacement for Robert Spano to conduct an all-Gershwin season finale with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The New York Times applauded Tipton for “leading sweeping and vibrant performances” of Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.