NHSO Celebrates Music Director Alasdair Neale in Finale Performance of Mahler & Price

Friday • April 26, 2024

Conductor Alasdair Neale will perform his final concert as music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Woolsey Hall. (Click here to buy tickets.) The first half of the program will feature Ethiopia’s Shadow in America and Andante Moderato for Strings by Florence Price, a trailblazing American composer whose music Neale featured several times over the course of his tenure. After intermission, the orchestra and audience will embark on German composer Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, an epic work appropriately nicknamed the “Titan” for its enormous ensemble – 90 players! – and emotional exploration of fate, love, mortality, and eternity.

NHSO Board President Keith B. Churchwell, M.D. 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 and lasting commitment to artistic excellence and has shown a sincere devotion to creating art for and with New Haven residents.” Churchwell continued, “As anyone who has attended our concerts in the past few years can tell you, there has been a tangible, positive shift at the New Haven Symphony and Alasdair’s flexible and thoughtful leadership has been at the core of that change.”

Neale began his appointment with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in 2019, following an extensive international search. Having lived and studied in New Haven 30 years prior as a graduate student at Yale University, he started his role as Music Director 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, Neale 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.

After returning to a pre-pandemic concert schedule in 2021, the orchestra now has an expanded footprint in New Haven, with regular performances at Southern CT State University and Yale University, as well as the New Haven Green, public and private schools, restaurants, stores, libraries, parks, churches, and beyond. Under Neale’s baton, the orchestra has commissioned or premiered works by Joel Thompson, Jessie Montgomery, Helen Hagan, and Michael Brown and performed with such internationally-renowned guest artists as Michelle Cann, Time for Three, Jennifer Koh, Joyce Yang, and Jeffrey Zeigler.

Neale says, “It’s been a sincere pleasure and privilege to be at the helm of such a magnificent group, and I’m forever indebted to my colleagues for the passion, commitment and joy they bring to the music.” Neale is moving full-time to Europe to be closer to family and will continue to serve as Music Director of the Sun Valley Music Festival, which performs each summer in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The orchestra’s next music director, Perry So, will conduct at “Celebrate New Haven” on June 15 as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and his first season will officially begin at the NHSO’s Opening Night in September.

Tickets: Tickets start at $15. Tickets for youth 17 and under are free with the purchase of an adult ticket. To purchase tickets, visit NewHavenSymphony.org or call (203) 693-1486 Monday-Friday from 12-5pm.

Alasdair’s Finale is sponsored by Oracle, Guilford Savings Bank, WSHU, Frontier, and the New Haven Register.

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