Biography


Alexander Platt

Link to short version bio

ALEXANDER PLATT is in constant demand as an American conductor and music director, holding four concurrent posts in the Hudson River Valley and the Upper Midwest. He is Music Director of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marion Philharmonic in Indiana, where he shall retire in the spring of 2017 after 21 years in the post. He spends his summers in Woodstock, New York as Music Director of the Maverick Concerts, which just celebrated its centenary as the oldest summer chamber-music festival in America.

Building on his bedrock experience as Apprentice Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Minnesota Opera (1991-93), Alexander served for 12 years (1993-2005) as Music Director of the Racine Symphony Orchestra, which he transformed from a struggling community orchestra into an artistically and financially thriving institution. During this time he undertook conducting assignments at the Skylight Opera Theatre (including a memorable production of the John Mortimer version of DIE FLEDERMAUS) and the Minnesota Opera (Colin Graham’s admired production of MADAMA BUTTERFLY), and also spent five years directing the Plymouth Chorale of Milwaukee, whom he led in a complete cycle of the late Haydn Masses.

Alexander Platt made his debut with Chicago Opera Theater in 1997, conducting Charles Newell’s production of DON GIOVANNI, and then served as the company’s Resident Conductor and Music Advisor from 2001 to 2012. During this historic era for COT, he led the Chicago premieres of Britten’s DEATH IN VENICE, John Adams’ NIXON IN CHINA, the Peter Brook LA TRAGEDIE DE CARMEN, and Britten’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM; the world premiere of the Tony Kushner/Maurice Sendak version of Hans Krasa’s BRUNDIBAR, and of his own version for young people of Tchaikovsky’s IOLANTA; the double-bill of Bartok’s BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE and the Schoenberg ERWARTUNG, with Nancy Gustafson and Samuel Ramey; and the world-premiere recording of Kurka’s THE GOOD SOLDIER SCHWEIK -- all to high acclaim in Opera News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and both the great Chicago papers. During this time he also made his debut at the Banff Festival, leading the co-premiere in conjunction with Calgary Opera of John Estacio’s FROBISHER, to accolades in Opera Canada magazine. In 2012, Alexander concluded his tenure at COT leading the Chicago premiere of the Shostakovich MOSCOW PARADISE, to unanimous critical praise.

At the same time, Alexander also spent five valuable years as Music Director of the Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra (2010-15), two years as Music Director of the Minnesota Philharmonic (2014-16), and ten years as a frequent conductor of the Boca Raton Symphonia -- serving first as Principal Conductor (2007-10) and leading the ensemble (in the opinion of The Palm Beach Post) into being the finest of the orchestras to emerge from the collapse of the Florida Philharmonic, and subsequently sharing the podium with Philippe Entremont, James Judd and Gerard Schwarz as a regular guest conductor, in which guise he became both a musician and audience favorite.

Having made his professional debut at England’s legendary Aldeburgh Festival, Alexander Platt has also guest-conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Freiburg Philharmonic in Germany, and for three seasons the Aalborg Symphony in Denmark -- along with Camerata Chicago, the Illinois, Riverside California and Hudson Valley Philharmonics, and the Houston, Charlotte and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras, among others. In 2007 Alexander made his New York debut with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in Central Park, the first of several innovative, successful appearances with that orchestra. In 2013 he made his debut at the Ravinia Festival, leading soloists from the Lyric Opera of Chicago in two American masterworks commissioned for the Bicentennial: Elliott Carter’s modernist landmark A MIRROR ON WHICH TO DWELL, and the premiere of his own version of Leonard Bernstein’s SONGFEST, both to high praise in The Chicago Tribune.

Devoted to regional orchestras and their communities, Alexander Platt has led all of his ensembles to continuing success in today’s uncertain climate for orchestras. Under his direction since 2010, the La Crosse Symphony has undergone a complete revival -- with sold-out houses, added performances, hitherto-unknown artistic standards, new collaborations with both the city’s dance companies as well as the La Crosse Youth Symphony, and the establishment of over $1 million in endowment funds. Under his direction since 1997, the Wisconsin Philharmonic has rebounded and thrives, having recently made a triumphant debut at Milwaukee’s summer festival Gathering on the Green, and streaming its annual Holiday concert live on Milwaukee Public Television; last March, it served as the orchestra for Milwaukee’s renowned Florentine Opera company. Under his direction since 2003, the Maverick Concerts, one of Woodstock’s historic institutions, just celebrated its centenary in an unprecedented era of artistic and financial success, having been transformed over the last 14 years into an eclectic 12-week festival of world, folk, jazz and international classical-music performances.

Through all these years, Alexander Platt has also been devoted to the music of our time, having conducted the US premieres of works by Britten, Shostakovich, Ned Rorem, Colin Matthews, Daron Hagen, Joseph Schwantner, John Corigliano, Harold Meltzer, Libby Larsen, Joan Tower, Judith Weir, William Neil, and Simon Holt -- as well as those of his brother Russell Platt, the classical-music editor at The New Yorker magazine. A signal success in this regard was the 2007 premiere of Alexander’s new version for chamber orchestra of David Del Tredici’s masterpiece, Final Alice (1976), under a major grant from the New York State Music Fund, with The New York Times praising Mr. Platt’s traversal of Del Tredici’s notoriously difficult score.

A research scholar for the National Endowment for the Humanities before he entered college, Alexander Platt was educated at Yale College, where on graduation he won the University’s most prestigious undergraduate arts prize; as a British Marshall Scholar at King’s College Cambridge, where he was the one student member of the College’s building committee; and as a conducting fellow at both Aspen and Tanglewood, where he studied with Murry Sidlin, Gustav Meier, Leon Fleisher, Oliver Knussen, Seiji Ozawa and Simon Rattle. At Cambridge he was the first American to hold the coveted post of Assistant Conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and as Conductor of the Cambridge University Opera Society his revival of Britten’s neglected OWEN WINGRAVE earned high praise in the London press. During this time he made his London debut at the Wigmore Hall under the auspices of the Benjamin Britten Estate, conducting the premiere of his own reconstruction of the lost Vienna chamber version of the Mahler Fourth Symphony (1993), which has since gone on to become a classic of the repertoire with many commercial recordings. In addition to his having recorded for Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, the South-West German Radio and the BBC, his recording for Cedille Records of the Max Bruch Scottish Fantasy, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Rachel Barton Pine, is still heard frequently on radio stations across North America.

Autumn 2016