Alexander Platt has built a unique career in the worlds of symphony, chamber music, and opera. In the Upper Midwest he is the Music Director of both the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Philharmonic, and spends his summers in Woodstock, New York as the Music Director of the Maverick Concerts, which recently celebrated its centenary as the oldest summer chamber-music festival in America. Having recently stepped down as Music Director of the Marion, Indiana Philharmonic, after 22 years of service to that community which were marked especially by many memorable performances of the large-scale choral literature, he now takes on the post of artistic director for music at the Westport Arts Center, in the historic artistic community of Westport, Connecticut. This summer, he makes his debut hosting a live webcast of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
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 success in today’s uncertain climate for orchestras. Under his direction since 2010, the La Crosse Symphony has enjoyed a complete revival — with sold-out houses, added programs and 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 $1.3 million in endowment funds. He has similarly led the Wisconsin Philharmonic since 1997, taking an active role in education and fund-raising and overseeing new performance collaborations with the Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Public Television, GermanFest, Gathering On The Green, Delafield Summerstage, and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center’s Starry Nights series. Under his direction since 2003, the Maverick Concerts has nearly doubled its activities since that time, and is now an eclectic, thriving and financially secure festival of world, folk, jazz and international classical music performances in the Hudson River Valley. And in his brief tenure as music director of the Minnesota Philharmonic, the orchestra of the Twin Cities’ LGBT community, Mr. Platt effectively staked his claim as a traditionalist, serving as an advocate for women composers and leading the orchestra in masterworks by Britten, Copland, Falla, Tchaikovsky and Schubert.
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.