2011-2012 Concert SeasonSupport the Eroica EnsembleAbout the Eroica Ensemble
About the Eroica Ensemble

Each year the Eroica Ensemble presents a series of concerts in the communities of West Tennessee featuring spirited, wholehearted performances of the masterworks of the Classical music repertoire. Along with these concerts, the organization offers training workshops that attract aspiring and professional musicians from across the region and the country. Through these programs the Eroica Ensemble enhances the cultural life of West Tennessee by providing encouragement, performance opportunities, and artistic sustenance for students, teachers, and professional performers as well as an ongoing series of free, accessible, and high level performances for audiences. In all of our activities, we seek to celebrate the distinctive value of Classical music in contemporary society.

Michael Gilbert, conductor

Michael Gilbert is Music Director of the Eroica Ensemble and Music Director of the Music Masters Course Japan. Born in Memphis, Mr. Gilbert received early musical training from his father before moving to New York to study at the Juilliard School. His principal violin teachers were Ivan Galamian, Dorothy Delay and Samuel Kissel.

Mr. Gilbert served as concertmaster of both the San Antonio Symphony and the Santa Fe Opera before being appointed concertmaster of the American Symphony Orchestra in 1967 by Leopold Stokowski. In 1970, Mr. Gilbert joined the New York Philharmonic. He played with the orchestra for thirty seasons through the tenures of Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, and Kurt Masur. During these years, the orchestra toured extensively throughout the world and made dozens of celebrated recordings. Mr. Gilbert has also performed with legendary conductors Jean Morel, Erich Leinsdorf, Klaus Tennstedt, Herbert van Karajan and Pablo Casals.

Mr. Gilbert made his debut as a conductor with the Kyoto Symphony in Japan in 2004 performing Mahler Symphony No.1 and returned the following year with Bruckner Symphony No.4. Since 2007, he has led the Eroica Ensemble, presenting an annual series of free concerts in the communities of West Tennessee.

Mr. Gilbert also shares his passion for music through teaching. He has been a member of the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School and has served as a mentor to a number of successful conductors and violinists. Since 2001, Mr. Gilbert has been the Music Director of the Music Masters Course Japan, a summer festival and music school whose professors and students come together from Europe, Asia and the United States to study and perform chamber and orchestral music. Mr. Gilbert has also devoted much time to working with student orchestras: he has coached and conducted at summer festivals and orchestral seminars around the world, including the National Orchestral Institute at The University of Maryland, Las Vegas Music Festival, the National Youth Orchestra of Spain, the Youth Orchestra of Galicia, the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, and El Systema, the national music program in Venezuela. This past summer, Mr. Gilbert led a workshop on the Saito Conducting Method at The University of Memphis.

Mr. Gilbert is married to Yoko Takebe, a violinist in the New York Philharmonic. Their son, Alan Gilbert, is the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and their daughter, Jennifer Gilbert, is Concertmaster of the Orchestre National de Lyon.

Descended from a family of Tennessee musicians, Mr. Gilbert gained valuable professional experience playing music in Memphis as a young man. Working with his father, Noel Gilbert, a prominent Memphis musician, Michael played various styles of music in venues across the city, including dances, musicals, and the summer concert series at the Overton Park Shell. He can be heard playing violin with his father and his sister, Joan, on Carla Thomas’ 1960 hit, Gee Whiz - the very first chart-topping single for Memphis' famed Stax Records label.