Athlone Artists Welcomes Gil Rose, American Opera’s Busiest Conductor

Athlone Artists is delighted to welcome trailblazing conductor Gil Rose to its roster. Praised as “amazingly versatile” (The Boston Globe) with “a sense of style and sophistication” (Opera News), Gil is a global leader in American contemporary music; a scholar known for unearthing and resurrecting worthy works in the orchestral and operatic literature. Gil founded the performing and recording ensemble the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), who “bring an endlessly curious and almost archaeological mind to programming…with each concert, each recording, an essential step in a better direction” (The New York Times); as well as Odyssey Opera, described by The New York Times as “bold and intriguing” and “one of the East Coast’s most interesting opera companies.” Beyond Boston, Gil Rose enjoys a busy schedule as a guest conductor, and his record label, the GRAMMY® award winning BMOP/sound, has released over 90 recordings since its founding in 2008.Gil was profiled in the latest issue of Opera News, where Elinor Hitt wrote of him, “Rose has transformed Boston into a home for the operatic avant-garde. He is a scrupulous and eccentric curator, a risk-taker and a leader in contemporary opera and classical music in America.”  Miguel Rodríguez, President and Founder of Athlone Artists, has known Gil since his early days in Boston, where the young conductor moved in 1994. The two worked with Opera Boston and have maintained a close connection ever since. Miguel has seen Gil amass an impressive list of musical accomplishments, from establishing a successful orchestra, opera company, and record label; to working as an educator and performing as a guest conductor on the global stage with companies like the Tanglewood Opera Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra, the National Symphony of Ukraine, the Matsumoto Festival of Japan, the New York City Opera, and the Juilliard Symphony. “When you’re doing American Opera,” says Miguel, “Gil Rose is the person you want on the podium.”Gil began his musical studies as a clarinetist and went to school to study music and art history before training as a conductor. After school, life took him to Switzerland, and then to Boston where he has made his home for the last three decades. There, he discovered his calling.
“I have a musicological bent that wants to preserve and document art,” says Gil when asked about creating the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) just two years after he arrived in Boston. “Part of it was trying to build a business model that gave us a niche – we were looking for a way to corner a market.” The ensemble has become the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The “unique and invaluable” (The New York Times) orchestra has won seventeen ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, been selected as Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year in 2016, and in 2021 was awarded a Gramophone Magazine Special Achievement Award in recognition of extraordinary service to American music of the modern era.“BMOP played its first concert in April of 1996,” says Gil. “Within two seasons, we were starting to record. We were putting together concerts and programs for major record labels – we were conceiving the idea, raising the money, executing the recording sessions, doing the cover art. And I realized that all we needed was a UPC code and we could do this ourselves.” In fall of 2002, BMOP/sound was born. In the intervening years, the label has released over 90 recordings of contemporary music by today’s most innovative composers, including world premieres by John Cage, Lukas Foss, Chen Yi, Anthony Davis, Lisa Bielawa, Steven Mackey, Eric Nathan, and many others. In September, Pentatone will release BMOP’s recording of composer John Corigliano’s The Lord of Cries.Tobias Picker’s Awakenings is out later this fall on BMOP/sound.Part of Gil’s inspiration for BMOP/sound was Louisville Orchestra’s First Edition Records, which began in 1950 and annually commissioned and recorded up to 52 new compositions from established and student composers worldwide, ultimately creating nearly 150 vinyl recordings (LPs) of more than 450 works by living 20th Century composers that were released globally by subscription in more than 48 countries. “Their list of accomplishments was amazing,” says Gil.
Gil had also been working with Opera Boston – conducting works like the Pulitzer Prize-winning Madame White Snake (music by Zhou Long) – before the organization closed its doors in 2011. And once again Gil noted the need to fill an empty corner of the artistic market. “The real unique thing I bring to opera,” he says, “is the knowledge of what American Opera was between World War I and now. There are great works out there – I want to find out how we work to give them a second life.” Gil launched the newly minted Odyssey Opera in 2013. In their second season, they gave the Boston premiere of Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox as a co-production with BMOP: In 2020 the work won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Opera Recording.While creating thematic seasons, Gil pours through manuscripts at places like the NY Public Library, “doing a deep dive” into the archives to make connections and find works that deserve a renaissance. When Gil discovered composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s setting of The Importance of Being Earnest, he says, “I nearly fell off my chair!” Odyssey Opera performed and recorded the work for eight singers, two pianos and percussion for release on their eponymous label in 2020. Rose also has resurrected works like Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Adams’ Nixon in China before they were picked up by larger houses. Odyssey and BMOP also presented Anthony Davis’ X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X in 2021 as the first in their ongoing five-part series, “As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage.”Gil is proud of the niche he’s carved out for himself as a standard bearer in the art of American classical music, with over 125 operatic and orchestral album releases in his career thus far. “I wear it like a badge of honor,” he says. “I have a passion for this repertoire.”Gil recently conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a sold out program of opera favorites at Artpark in Lewiston, NY, where he has just accepted a leadership staff position as Director of Opera and Sonic Exploration – the first of its kind at the 50-year-old institution intent on growing its Opera and New Music programming encouraged by the recent successes and with partial support of the Jean Hackenheimer bequest.“There are so many great operas. I’d like to do all of them before I go!”