Grant Gershon, Master Conductor
Conductor Grant Gershon, currently in his 12th season as music director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, is equally at home with choral and symphonic music, opera and musical theater. In 2001, he was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, which the Los Angeles Times has proclaimed “the most exciting chorus in the country under Gershon’s leadership.” Composer John Adams declares, “Grant Gershon is one of those rarities we call ‘the complete musician.’ My respect for his musicality—for his conducting, his extraordinary musical intuition and his formidable ear—knows no bounds.” In addition to his post with the Chorale, Mr. Gershon is currently the Resident Conductor of the LA Opera.
An ardent champion of new music, Mr. Gershon, who has led nearly 100 performances with the Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall, has given numerous world premiere performances, including such major works as You Are (Variations) by Steve Reich; Requiem by Christopher Rouse; City of Dis by Louis Andriessen; Los Cantores de las Montañas (“The Singing Mountaineers”) by Gabriela Lena Frank; Sang by Eve Beglarian; A Map of Los Angeles by David O; Spiral XII by Chinary Ung; Dream Variations by Andrea Clearfield; Voici le soir by Morten Lauridsen; Messages and Brief Eternity by Bobby McFerrin and Roger Treece; Broken Charms by Donald Crockett; and Rezos (Prayers) by Tania León. He has also premiered works by John Adams, Ricky Ian Gordon, Billy Childs and Don Davis; and given American premieres of works by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Thomas Jennefelt, James MacMillan, Sofia Gubaidulina and Mark Anthony Turnage, among others.
In 2008, Mr. Gershon made his highly acclaimed LA Opera debut leading eight performances of Verdi’s La Traviata, about which the Los Angeles Times declared, “Grant Gershon, best known as the music director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, proved an exacting, sensitive, deeply involving Verdi conductor. Indeed, I could have been tricked into thinking that one of the world’s top orchestras was in the pit, so well did the LA Opera orchestra play.” In September 2010, Mr. Gershon led the world premiere performances at LA Opera of Daniel Catán’s highly anticipated Il Postino, featuring Plácido Domingo, which was subsequently broadcast on the PBS Great Performances series, and which he also conducted in Santiago, Chile in July 2012. In May 2011 he conducted “L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato” in a co-production with LA Opera and Gloria Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center featuring the Mark Morris Dance Group, and in 2011 he made his Santa Fe Opera debut, conducting Peter Sellars’ new production of Vivaldi’s Griselda. Mr. Gershon also conducted six performances of LA Opera’s production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in November and December 2012.
Throughout his career, Gershon has worked closely with many leading conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle and Esa-Pekka Salonen, among others. Mr. Gershon has also appeared as guest conductor with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Utah Opera, Swedish Royal Opera, Juilliard Opera Theatre, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Finnish chamber orchestra Avanti! among others. He has also led performances at many of the world’s most prestigious festivals, including the Ravinia, Edinburgh, Vienna, Aspen and Helsinki festivals as well as the Roma-Europa Festival and the Festival Otonno in Madrid. Many of these appearances have been as music director for projects by famed director Peter Sellars, with whom Mr. Gershon has enjoyed a long and fruitful artistic relationship.
Mr. Gershon’s discography includes the cast recording of the opera The Grapes of Wrath (PS Classics) along with two Grammy Award-nominated recordings: Sweeney Todd (New York Philharmonic Special Editions) and Ligeti’s Grand Macabre (Sony Classical). He has also recorded five CDs with the Chorale, including A Good Understanding, an all-Nico Muhly disc recorded at Disney Hall and released by Decca in September 2010; Daniel Variations by Steve Reich, released in 2008 on Nonesuch Records and described by UK’s Guardian as “a searching, serious piece… one of Reich’s major statements”; You Are (Variations) by Steve Reich, released in 2005 on Nonesuch Records and honored with the WQXR Gramophone America Award in 2006 and selected by The New York Times, Washington Post and Newsday, among others, as one the top ten classical recordings of the year; and an RCM recording featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen’s first choral work,Two Songs to Poems of Ann Jäderlund, and Philip Glass’ Itaipu. A fifth CD Gershon recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in June 2012 and currently in production will feature three works by Polish composer Henryk Górecki, including his rapturous 1981 composition Miserere, a once-radical plea for peace written in support of Poland’s then-budding Solidarity Movement, and Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), for chorus and glockenspiel, and Pieśni Maryjne (Marian Songs) which has never been commercially recorded.
Prior to joining the Chorale, Mr. Gershon served as Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1994 to 1997, during which time he led performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Hollywood Bowl. He also served as Assistant Conductor/Principal Pianist with LA Opera from 1988 to 1994, where he participated in over 40 productions and garnered a reputation as one of the country’s exceptional vocal coaches.
Mr. Gershon formerly served as Assistant Conductor at the Salzburg Festival, the Berlin Staatsoper and the Festival Aix-En-Provence, working with conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniel Barenboim and Claudio Abbado respectively. He has also prepared choruses for Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel, Simon Rattle and Zubin Mehta. As a pianist, Mr. Gershon has accompanied such leading singers as Peter Schreier, Rod Gilfry and Audra McDonald, as well as Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras in separate appearances on “The Tonight Show.” In addition, he has conducted choral recording sessions for the motion picture sound tracks of I Am Legend, Charlie Wilson’s War, Lady in the Water, Click and License to Wed, and recorded as countertenor soloist for The Green Lantern, and The X Files: I Want To Believe. On screen, Mr. Gershon appeared as a pianist in two episodes of the hit television series “Cheers.”
He received his bachelor of music degree cum laude in piano performance from USC, and was named USC Thornton School of Music Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in May 2002. He currently serves on the USC Thornton Board of Advisors and the Board of Directors of Chorus America.