Alasdair Neale

Alasdair Neale
Music Director
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Alasdair Neale

Alasdair Neale began his tenure as Music Director of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in 1995. He also holds the positions of Music Director of the Marin Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

In his twenty years as Music Director of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, 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. During that time he conducted both orchestras in hundreds of critically acclaimed concerts both here and abroad. In 1999, he substituted for an ailing Michael Tilson Thomas, conducting the San Francisco Symphony in widely praised performances of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in Germany. 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.

In February 2007, he replaced an indisposed Carlos Kalmar to lead the San Francisco Symphony in successful subscription performances. In March 2002, to enthusiastically positive reviews, he collaborated with director Peter Sellars and composer John Adams to open the Adelaide Festival with a production of the opera El Niño.

From 2001 to 2011, Mr. Neale served as Principal Guest Conductor of the New World Symphony.  He has guest conducted with numerous orchestras here and abroad, including: the New York Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Dallas Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Nashville Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Florida West Coast Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, Princeton 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 April 1994, Mr. Neale conducted the San Francisco Symphony in the world premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Colored Field, featuring English horn player Julie Ann Giacobassi. Following those performances, Alasdair Neale, Ms. Giacobassi, and the San Francisco Symphony recorded Colored Field for Argo/Decca; the recording was released in February 1996 and was honored with the Diapason d’or award, conferred by the French music publication Diapason harmonie. In addition to his San Francisco Symphony recording, he can also be heard on New World Records conducting the ensemble Solisti New York in a recording of new flute concertos. During his years with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra he made a number of recordings, including Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony and Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.  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.