New Haven Symphony Orchestra Extends Music Director Alasdair Neale Contract Through 2023-24 Season

Wednesday • September 15, 2021

The New Haven Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Alasdair Neale has accepted their invitation to renew his contract as the Symphony’s music director. With this contract extension comes the bittersweet news that Neale will be leaving his post with the NHSO following the 2023-24 Season.

NHSO Board of Directors President Dr. Keith Churchwell says, “Alasdair’s talent as both a conductor and community leader has impacted every element of this orchestra since day one of his tenure. He has made significant commitment to artistic excellence and has shown a sincere devotion to creating art for and with New Haven residents. His impact in New Haven has been profound. We are excited to have him as part of the NHSO family for our next 3 seasons.”

Alasdair Neale says, “Returning to New Haven had long been a dream of mine as I have loved this City since my time as a student at Yale. Being the NHSO’s music director has fulfilled a long-time dream and it has been more rewarding than I even imagined.  However, the pandemic has shifted my goals and dreams, as it has for so many this past year. My husband and I have done a lot of soul-searching and imagining what the next chapter of our lives will be, and together we have decided to move to Paris to be closer to my European side of the family and to experience new adventures beginning in 2024.”

The NHSO Board of Directors will be assembling a new music director search committee and will share their plans in the coming months. Neale also will be stepping down from his 20-year music director role at the Marin Symphony in California at the end of the 2022-23 Season. He will continue as Music Director of the Sun Valley Music Festival, which performs each summer in Sun Valley, Idaho.

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.

The Symphony will return to full orchestra concerts this Fall with Neale at the helm. The season will open October 3 at the Shubert Theatre with music by Beethoven, Price, Stravinsky, and Coleman.

Neale says, “Although my time in New Haven will be shorter than I originally imagined, I am excited to roll up my sleeves for the next three years and expand upon the momentum we have created so far. The last two years have proven how adaptable this organization can be, and I think we have a lot of excitement coming our way as we return to orchestra concerts.”

About Alasdair Neale

Alasdair Neale is Music Director of the Sun Valley Music Festival (Idaho) and Music Director of the Marin Symphony (California). In his twenty-six years as Music Director of Sun Valley, Mr. Neale has propelled this festival to national status: it is now the largest privately funded free admission symphony in America. 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. Previous posts have included principal guest conductor of the New World Symphony, conductor for the Juilliard pre-college orchestra, and Music Director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Neale is a 1985 graduate of the Yale University School of Music.

About the NHSO

The fourth-oldest orchestra in America, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s exceptional and accessible performances and education programs reach more than 40,000 audience members and 20,000 students each year. Innovative programming and a dedication to the commission of new works inspires deeper audience engagement and meaningful artistic and educational collaborations. Through the Harmony Fellowship for Underrepresented Musicians, as well as numerous award-winning education and community engagement programs, the Symphony strives to be a leader for racial equity in the arts. To learn more about the NHSO, visit

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