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Music Director

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Delta David Gier has been called a dynamic voice on the American music scene, recognized widely for his penetrating interpretations of the standard repertoire and his passionate commitment to exploring new music and engaging new audiences.

Gier made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2000 with an acclaimed performance including Stravinsky’s Firebird (1945) that further solidified his long-standing relationship with the orchestra. Chosen by Maestro Kurt Masur as an assistant conductor in 1994, Gier also worked under Lorin Maazel and went on to conduct over 20 performances with the New York Philharmonic, including two complete seasons of Young People’s Concerts, the first conductor to do so in over 50 years.

This year Music Director Gier made his Cleveland Orchestra debut as well as returned to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra. Other recent U.S. engagements have included the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Columbus Symphony and the American Composers Orchestra. He also conducted over 60 performances of Carmen with San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater. Abroad, some of the orchestras Gier has performed with include the Bergen Philharmonic (Norway), the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra de Cámara de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Polish National Radio Symphony, Bucharest Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and the Orchestra Sinfonica della Provincia di Bari, Italy. Maestro Gier has performed with many of the world’s finest soloists, including Midori, Lang Lang and Sarah Chang.

As Music Director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra since 2004, Gier has taken a bold approach to programming that has broadened the orchestra’s repertoire and positioned it on the national forefront of new orchestral music. Under his direction, the SDSO has won the coveted ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for seven seasons, in part due to a series of concerts featuring works of Pulitzer Prize-winning composers – a program heralded by the Wall Street Journal as “an unprecedented programming innovation.” Pulitzer prize-winning composers Jennifer Higdon, Paul Moravec, Steven Stucky and Zhou Long have had residencies with the SDSO. Gier himself has served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prize twice, once as Chairman, and for the ASCAP Rudolph Nissim Composition Prize. His balanced vision for the orchestra has also given rise to a popular annual Mahler celebration and highly successful operatic performances.

The impact of Gier’s innovative work in community engagement has been felt throughout the Midwest, including circles sometimes disenfranchised from orchestral music. Designed to promote cross-cultural understanding, the Lakota Music Project brought together the SDSO and Native American musicians in a one-of-a-kind collaboration exploring the depth of both musical traditions and inspiring other orchestras to launch similar programs. During Maestro Gier’s tenure, the SDSO has also led the way with programs aimed at assimilating immigrant cultures, including African refugees and the Middle Eastern community. His perceptive approach to new music can be heard in his recording of American composer Carson Kievman’s Symphony No. 2 (42) with the Polish National Radio Symphony. Released under the New Albion label, the performance was lauded by the Denver Post as “the kind of performance composers live for”. The SDSO premiered a new composition by Kievman in 2008.

A gifted and energetic teacher, Gier has taught and conducted for many highly regarded music schools, including the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the Yale School of Music, the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, the San Francisco Conservatory, and SUNY Stony Brook. As a Fulbright Scholar (1988-90), Gier led a series of critically acclaimed performances throughout Eastern Europe, introducing audiences to such American masterworks as Barber’s Violin Concerto and Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Gier earned a Master of Music degree in conducting from The University of Michigan under Gustav Meier who praised his ability to “bring the composer to the center of the stage”. As a student at Tanglewood and Aspen, Gier also studied with Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur, Erich Leinsdorf, and Seiji Ozawa, and was invited by Riccardo Muti to spend a year as an apprentice at the Philadelphia Orchestra. He participated in the National Conductor Preview, a highly selective showcase for young conductors, at the invitation of the League of American Orchestras. The 2013-2014 season marks Maestro Gier’s 10th season as the SDSO Music Director.