Andrew Litton, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest Artistic Director since 2003, has a distinguished international reputation and a warm relationship with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and audiences. His spirit of collegiality, inspired programming and superb performances, both on the podium and at the keyboard, have become hallmarks of his Minnesota Orchestra appearances.
Litton holds several additional major posts, including the role of music director for the New York City Ballet, which he assumed in the 2015-16 season. He also serves as principal guest conductor of the Colorado Symphony, conductor laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony and music director laureate of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic, where he recently concluded a 12-year tenure as music director. Litton led the Dallas Symphony as music director from 1994 to 2006. Each season, he guest conducts leading orchestras and opera companies around the globe and adds each year to his discography of more than 120 recordings, which have garnered America’s Grammy Award, France’s Diapason d’Or and other honors.
Litton concluded his music director tenure in Bergen in grand style last season, leading a Gala Concert that celebrated the Orchestra’s 250th Anniversary. Under his leadership, the Bergen Philharmonic gained international recognition through touring, including debuts at London’s BBC Proms and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, as well as appearances at Vienna’s Musikverein, the Philharmonie in Berlin and Carnegie Hall in New York. His work in Bergen brought many tributes, including a knighthood in the Norwegian Royal Order of Merit.
Litton has conducted major opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Australian Opera. In Bergen, he was key to founding the Bergen National Opera, which he has led in critically-acclaimed, sold-out performances of Tosca, Carmen, The Flying Dutchman and La Bohème.
Litton began his New York City Ballet appointment in 2015 conducting holiday performances of The Nutcracker and subsequently opened the Company’s Winter Season with a special performance of ballets he selected, featuring the music of Bernstein, Barber and Gershwin. Litton’s work in ballet began while he was still a Juilliard student, performing onstage as pianist for Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova and Cynthia Gregory.
During the 2016-17 season, in addition to numerous appearances with New York City Ballet and the Colorado Symphony, he conducts the Bergen Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfónica de Galicia, Melbourne Symphony, Netherlands Philharmonic and Singapore Symphony.
An accomplished pianist, Litton often conducts from the keyboard and performs chamber music with colleagues. He is an acknowledged expert on George Gershwin and has performed and recorded Gershwin widely as both pianist and conductor. After leading the Covent Garden debut of Porgy and Bess, he arranged his own concert suite of that work, which is now performed around the world. He has also been asked to join a panel of Gershwin experts in developing a critical edition of that composer’s works. In summer 2014 he released his first solo piano album, A Tribute to Oscar Peterson, testimony to his passion for jazz, particularly the music of that great pianist.
A graduate of the Fieldston School, New York, Litton received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano and conducting from the Juilliard School. The youngest-ever winner of the BBC International Conductors Competition, he served as assistant conductor at Teatro alla Scala and as Exxon/Arts Endowment Assistant Conductor for the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich. His many honors in addition to Norway’s Order of Merit include an honorary doctorate from the University of Bournemouth, Yale University’s Sanford Medal and the Elgar Society Medal. For further information, visit andrewlitton.com.