Music Director

Alasdair Neale, Music Director: Celebrating 30 years of world-class, passionate performances in Sun Valley

“Both on and off-stage, the Sun Valley Music Festival feels like a family that comes together once a year.

There’s also a wonderful connection between the audience and the musicians—anyone who comes here feels cherished by the whole community, whether they meet them at a concert or at the grocery store. It’s an extraordinarily satisfying and joyful thing to be a part of.”


2024 marks Alasdair Neale’s 30th year as Music Director of the Sun Valley Music Festival. His artistry, vision, and commitment to the Sun Valley community have raised the profile of what is now the largest privately funded freeadmission classical music festival in the United States. His tenure has seen the Festival welcome celebrated artists like Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Daniil Trifonov, Gil Shaham, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

This season Mr. Neale will complete a five-year tenure as Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. His appointment came after an extensive international search and marked for him a return to the city where he lived, studied and began his professional career more than 30 years ago. 

“I want to give our audiences an inspirational experience that will enrich and improve their lives. I believe music has the power and eloquence to transform people.”

Last season, Alasdair Neale celebrated his 22nd and final year as Music Director of the Marin Symphony. Since he assumed the post in 2001, Mr. Neale was hailed for invigorating the orchestra and establishing it as one of the finest in the Bay Area. Under Mr. Neale’s direction, the Marin Symphony was chosen as one of several distinguished orchestras to participate in Magnum Opus, a groundbreaking, decade-long commissioning project bringing new music to the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Osvaldo Golijov, Kevin Puts, Kenji Bunch, David Carlson, and Avner Dorman were among the composers represented in the project. 

Mr. Neale’s appointment with the Marin Symphony followed 12 years as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. During that time he conducted both orchestras in hundreds of critically acclaimed concerts both here and abroad. Under Mr. Neale’s direction, the Youth Orchestra became one of the finest young ensembles in the world, receiving consistent rave reviews for performances in San Francisco, as well as on tour in Amsterdam, Leipzig, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Vienna. 

From 2001 to 2011, Mr. Neale served as Principal Guest Conductor of the New World Symphony. From 2001 to 2014, he served on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has guest conducted numerous orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Seattle Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Honolulu Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Nashville Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Sydney Symphony, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, l’Orchestre Métropolitan du Grand-Montréal, Radio Sinfonie Orchester Stuttgart, Auckland Philharmonia, Orchestra of St. Gallen (Switzerland), MDR Leipzig, NDR Hannover, Trondheim Symphony, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, and at the Aspen Music Festival. In March 2002, he collaborated with director Peter Sellars and composer John Adams to open the Adelaide Festival with a production of the oratorio El Niño. 

Mr. Neale’s discography includes a recording of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Colored Field with the San Francisco Symphony, featuring English horn player Julie Ann Giacobassi which won France’s Diapason d’or award following its release.  He may also be heard on New World Records conducting the ensemble Solisti New York in a recording of new flute concertos. Alasdair Neale appears on the Bay Brass recording Sound the Bells, released in March 2011 on the Harmonia Mundi label and nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Small Ensemble Performance. 

“I want to keep a fresh eye on what an evening of musical performance can look like, and keep surprising our audiences with creativity and ingenuity.”

Alasdair Neale holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University and a Master’s from Yale University, where his principal teacher was Otto-Werner Mueller. He lives in Paris.