Music Director


Alasdair Neale

Alasdair Neale is Music Director of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and Music Director of the Marin Symphony.  In his twenty-four 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.  Among the many celebrated guest artists that Mr. Neale has brought to this festival are: Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

As Music Director of the Marin Symphony since 2001, Mr. Neale has been hailed for invigorating the orchestra and establishing it as one of the finest in the Bay Area.  Under Mr. Neale’s direction, the Marin Symphony was chosen as one of several distinguished orchestras to participate in Magnum Opus, a groundbreaking, decade-long commissioning project bringing new music to the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Osvaldo Golijov, Kevin Puts, Kenji Bunch, David Carlson, and Avner Dorman were among the composers represented in the project.

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.

Highlights of Mr. Neale’s 2017-2018 season include return engagements with the New Haven Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, and his operatic debut with Opera Idaho where he will conduct André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

From 2001 to 2011, Mr. Neale served as Principal Guest Conductor of the New World Symphony.  From 2001 to 2014, he served on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  He has guest conducted numerous orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Seattle Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Honolulu Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Nashville Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Florida Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, Phoenix 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 March 2002, he collaborated with director Peter Sellars and composer John Adams to open the Adelaide Festival with a production of the oratorio El Niño.

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.