Alan Gilbert's tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic is off to a great start. His inaugural night isn't until Wednesday, but today the orchestra announced an extraordinary vote of confidence in Gilbert -- a $10 million gift from Henry R. Kravis that will underwrite a composer-in-residence position at the Philharmonic and establish a $250,000 prize for new music.
The first resident composer (each term will be two years) is Magnus Lindberg, whose "Expo" will receive its world premiere on Wednesday.
In these tough economic times, it's reassuring to know there are still folks around not just with deep pockets, but the willingness to spend it in support of contemporary music. (The new Kravis Prize of $250,000 will be given ever two years, starting in 2011, and will include a New York Philharmonic commission.)
The $10 million gift clearly signals strong support for Gilbert, who is expected to shake things up at the Philharmonic in many ways, following Lorin Maazel's basically conservative tenure. Gilbert's several appearances with the Baltimore Symphony back at the start of the decade revealed considerable talent, which has only intensified over the years. It's going to be an interesting time up there at Lincoln Center, and I hope to catch some of the action soon.