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Music Director


Delta David Gier has been called a dynamic voice on the American music scene, recognized widely for his penetrating interpretations of the standard symphonic repertoire, passionate commitment to new music, and significant community engagement.

Music Director Delta David Gier is nationally recognized for his championship of living composers and his ability to deepen an orchestra’s impact in its community. Gier is the 2022 recipient of Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award, which called him “the model of an engaged conductor,” a sentiment echoed by writer Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker, “…his group is the model of an engaged orchestra,” adding that “the South Dakota Symphony is bolder and savvier in its programming than all but a handful of American ensembles.”

The New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra are among the U.S. orchestras that Gier has conducted. In Europe, engagements include the Bergen Philharmonic (Norway), the Polish National Radio Symphony (with which he has made several recordings), and the Bucharest Philharmonic, along with many other orchestras in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey. In Central and South America he has had a long relationship with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and has conducted several orchestras in Mexico and Brazil.  In Asia, Gier continues to enjoy a longstanding relationship with the Thailand Philharmonic and has conducted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, as well as the orchestras of Qingdao and Hebei in China.

Maestro Gier has been Music Director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) since 2004. Under his direction, the orchestra has been lauded for its programming (including seven ASCAP awards). His series based on the Pulitzer Prize was called “an unprecedented programming innovation” by the Wall Street Journal and has included residencies with composers Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Steven Stucky, Zhou Long, John Luther Adams, and Paul Moravec. During his tenure the SDSO has expanded its offerings with a complete cycle of Mahler symphonies, numerous world premieres, and semi-staged operas.

The Lakota Music Project (LMP) was developed under Gier’s direction to address racial tensions between Native Americans and non-Natives in the region the SDSO serves. Now in its thirteenth year, the LMP is a side-by-side program with the SDSO and Lakota/Dakota musicians which explores the role music plays in their respective cultures, seeking to engender understanding and healing between estranged peoples. This program traveled to Washington, D.C. in October 2019 for performances at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and the National Cathedral. A recording of the music commissioned for the LMP will be released this season on the Innova label.

Over the last decade the Lakota Music Project has expanded into Bridging Cultures, a broader program which has included projects with several communities in South Dakota including South Asian (tabla player Zakir Hussain; composer Reena Esmail), Arab (with oud artist Simon Shaheen and composer Malek Jandali), Persian (with composers Behzad Ranjbaran and Nilofar Iravani), Chinese (with composers Chen Yi and Zhou Long), and Sudanese/Somali refugees (with the Bernard Woma Ensemble).

For 15 seasons, Delta David Gier served as an Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He studied at the University of Michigan under the renowned conducting teacher Gustav Meier, as well as at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival. He was a Fulbright scholar in Eastern Europe from 1988-90. As an educator, Mr. Gier has served as guest faculty at the Curtis Institute, Yale School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory, and SUNY Stony Brook. He has chaired the music jury of the Pulitzer Prize and is a frequent panelist for the League of American Orchestras.

Keep up to date with Maestro Gier by visiting his website at www.deltadavidgier.com/